Chris Butcher takes a look at Viz’s upcoming release of Kazuo Umezu’s Cat-Eyed Boy and uses it as a jumping-off point to talk about cover design and the problems in attempting to market manga like Umezu’s to Western audiences:
Looking at it from a North American publisher’s perspective, there are some problems. Having a naked little boy on a book cover doesn’t fly in North America, for the most part (even if he’s got creepy claw feet). The book also looks a little young… Though its original audience is likely that same “Shonen Sunday” crowd as Drifting Classroom, in North America these are quite clearly going to be intended for an adult audience that is equally as likely to appreciate these works as viscerally enjoy them. (Though I feel it’s important to note that these re-releases were probably intended for an adult audience in Japan, likely the same adults who bought the stories as children originally). I’d love to own these two book covers, and chances are I’ll just pick them up next time I’m in Japan, either that or a nice Umezu art book maybe? But on North American shelves, they’d be pretty unlikely at best.
He also interviews Viz VP Alvin Lu about the release and Lu’s comments are well worth taking the time to read.