By Julie Opipari
DC Comics announced that they are shuttering CMX, effective July 1, 2010. What awful news! CMX was one of my favorite publishers, and they offered a wonderful variety of titles. Some of my favorite series are CMX titles. Nari Kusakawa is a must buy artist, and now I sob at the thought of the premature end to all of the CMX books that I have come to love. They will never receive the ending they deserve here, and that makes me very unhappy. More importantly, I am very sorry about the lost jobs that this announcement brings. CMX employees were always so wonderful to work with, and I wish them luck in the future. My heart goes out to them.
This news has really got me down. First, Viz eliminated 40% of their work force last week. Now DC Comics is completely shuttering the CMX offices. I am terribly worried about the future of manga. So many companies have closed up shop, and each is a loss to the industry that I love. With fewer companies publishing manga, there are fewer choices on bookstore shelves, and publishers will be very, very hesitant to license anything remotely chancy. All of the little gems that don’t get much buzz will remain buried, like undiscovered treasure. Last week I was looking for a silver lining. Today I am looking for my tissues, to blot away my tears. This is a bitter pill to swallow, and I wonder where it will end?
With CMX out of the picture, the manga landscape looks pretty bleak. Sure, Viz releases many series that I enjoy, but they are, for the most part, just variations on the same theme. We have the fighting manga and the high school romance manga, and until Viz gathered up a little courage and started giving us the Viz Signature and Ikki imprints, that was about it. I love Bleach and Vampire Knight, but there are times that I want to read something a little more cutting edge or intended for an older audience. Something that I can relate to, something that speaks to me.
Now here’s the scary thing – what other publishers are in a hurt box, and weighing the same decision. To keep trying to make a buck in this challenging economic environment, or to call it quits and give up. CMX had DC’s might behind them, but they have always been treated like the red-headed step-child in that house. Not much effort went into trumpeting their books. Worse, book store availability has always been an issue. I personally have never had an issue buying their titles, but I purchase 99.9% of my books online. It takes a raging fire to get me into the not-so-local Borders, and the disorganization of the shelves always sets my teeth on edge.
So, Dark Horse, DMP, Vertical, TOKYOPOP, and Yen Press, what are you doing to make sure you aren’t the next victim in the manga publisher bloodbath? DMP has slowed output way down, and has tried to shift their focus more to online offerings. If Apple and Adobe were friends and my iPad ran Flash, I would be all over DMP’s eManga.com website. Dark Horse and Vertical seem very cautious with licensing decisions, and they only release a few choice selections every month. TOKYOPOP discovered the danger of flooding the market with too many releases each month; there are only so many dollars to go around, and when a company is sniping it’s own sales, life gets difficult very quickly. Yen Press has an interesting catalog, and they aren’t afraid to adapt some high profile titles into a graphic novel format. They did axe Yen Plus magazine. And I wonder how profitable the Twilight GN really was for them.
So here we are, and I am feeling more pessimistic about the future of manga in the US than I have in a long, long time. Like every other hobby, strained leisure spending is taking its toll on an industry that was flying high just a few short years ago. Or was that all smoke and mirrors, much like the financial markets that have brought this once mighty economic machine to its knees? How much worse are things going to get, before they finally do get better?
When Julie Opipari isn’t mucking around the barn, she can be found trying to make a dent in the massive pile of manga that keeps following her home from the bookstore. Not wiling to admit she has a problem, she blissfully continues to anticipate the latest releases despite the cries of agony from her credit card. She cheerfully blames her addiction on the stresses of college and post traumatic work disorder, and is grateful that her family grumbles only occasionally about the amount of time she spends buried in her books. In addition to reading Your Manga Minute every Wednesday, you can read more of Julie’s work on her blog, Manga Maniac Cafe.