Y Square English Reviews

January 28, 2008

With Y Square’s release in America being one of publisher Yen Press’ first releases, many are jumping to review it. Here are a few samplings of what we’ve seen.

About.com: Deb’s Manga Blog

German-Korean manga artist Judith Park has a nice style – the boys and girls are cute and there are lots of lovely details on almost every page. But pretty pin-ups can’t hide the fact that Y Square’s characters are one-dimensional, their dialogue is stilted and the plot is all over the place.

Comixmix: Manga Friday

 Y Square is a lot more conventional, and not as much goofy fun as Sundome is. I also expect that Y Square will be much more popular, especially with young women who either haven’t quite made the big jump to full-on yaoi or young women who prefer their boy-on-boy sexual tension to remain unresolved.

Fans of Gothic Sports should be sure to check out an exclusive interview with Anike Hage that Tokyopop.com has just put up. Non-German fans in particular may find some of the questions interesting, like the info about German highschools and sports teams. And, of course, there’s the questions we’ve all just been dying to ask:

TOKYOPOP: Does the fact that the Goths were an Eastern Germanic tribe who fought against the Romans in the first half of the first millenium A.D. have any effect on the perception of Goth culture in modern Germany?

As always, the English version of Gothic Sports v1 can be bought here!

There’s a new interview up with Tokyopop artist Anike Hage (Gothic Sports— also available in English). Volume 2 was just released, and when asked about how long she thinks Gothic Sports will end up being, she says:

I don’t know exactly. I think I’d need a few more volumes if I want to get everything in there, though some things can be discarded (only in case of emergency, of course)!

The rest of the interview deals with her family’s reaction to her career, prejudice she runs into, where she got the idea for Gothic Sports from, etc. If there’s anything you want us to translate, let us know.

In other news, volume 3 of the English-language version of Christina Plaka’s Yonen Buzz is now available for pre-order on Amazon with a release date of October 9.  For links to the first two volumes and other info on German manga licensed abroad, check out this list.

Chat with Joachim Kaps

February 21, 2007

On January 16th, Dr. Joachim Kaps, head of Tokyopop.de answered questions in a chat hosted by AnimeY. Here are the points of interest with regard to the German manga scene:

There are no deadlines to apply to MangaFieber, applications are accepted 365 days a year.
One of the artists from MF1 will soon have their own project out, which should surprise everyone. Other artists are also still in contact with TP, but have not yet found the right project for them.
Christina Plaka’s next volume of Yonen Buzz will be out in July, and so far, no end for the series is planned.
Jo Kaps’ favorite manga from EMA and Carlsen are Judith Park, whom he worked with in his Carlsen time, Dragonball, Conan and DuO, whose artwork he really likes.
As announced earlier, there will be a small limited edition of Gothic Sports merchandise to test fans’ reactions.
As for payment, he says that neither artists nor editors currently get rich working for TP. However, if one lives frugally, then being an artist full-time can work, as it does for Anike Hage. However, licensing works to other countries and merchandise should hopefully add a little to the salary.
Unlike numbers cited by Georg F. W. Tempel (head of EMA), he says only few manga manage to sell more than 10,000 copies. However, he says that Anike Hage is close to getting there. Many countries seem to have expressed interest in In the End and Grimms Manga.
So far, no specific projects are planned with Olga Rogalski and Natalie Wormsbecher, but both are considered great talents, and it is a matter of finding the right project.

Judith Park chat

February 15, 2007

Judith Park was recently in a chat hosted by AnimeY, the transcript of which can be found here. Over 80 people joined in.

Regarding Chibi/Daisuki:
At the time of the chat, Park was hard at work on Luxus, her Chibi manga. Luxus takes place in Duesseldorf, and according to Park, “I’m addressing a big problem of society, and Duesseldorf for me is the personification of that problem.” She enjoyed the page count, calling it perfect for short stories, but is too busy with Y Square PLUS to do any more any time soon. Y Square PLUS’s run in Daisuki, a monthly manga anthology, will soon be joined by a new series by German mangaka Stella Brandner, which starts in May.
The second round of Chibis are already in production, with two “boxes” (in connection to their display) released a year. For anyone interested in pitching to Chibi, Park says to send a normal pitch to Anne anytime. What’s important for a pitch?

Concept is most important- it should be reduced to the essentials – 1 page is optimal. Really important is character info, location, time and topic. Apart from that, first scribbles and page layouts, as well as character illustrations.

Regarding her history as a comic artist:
Park says she never really applied- Joachim Kaps apparently contacted her and they met up at the Leipzig Bookfair and discussed possible story ideas. She didn’t have to pitch more than once, as her first submission, Dystopia, was accepted. One of her favorite things about working for Carlsen is working with her editor, who she’s been a time with for a while. Park says that being published really opened her eyes to the differences between an amateur and a professional, and made her realize how much she needed to improve– hence her style developing and improving so much between Dystopia and Y Square.
It takes her about 6-7 months to create a manga, with one month per chapter. Because of the editing, etc, it ends up being about a year.
Regarding future works:
She’s working on a collaboration with Anike Hage, but is really busy right now, so it’s taking some time. Park would like to some day try a longer series (she’s currently working on her third single volume work), but recognizes how well thought-out it would need to be. She’d like to try “more dramatic stories, or something action or bizarre,” but again says she will only try these once she feels she’s evolved enough.

Deutsche Mangaka Films

February 5, 2007

Publisher EMA has announced that they’ll be producing a number of 10 minute video clips about the German mangaka working for them. Ultimately, the clips will be put together and will be available on a DVD, “Mangas Made in Germany“.

The first clip (available as a stream or download on the site) contains interviews and info about the EMA-girls: Alexandra Voelker (Catwalk v1, v2), DuO (Independent, Mon-Star Attack v1, v2), Gina Wetzel (Orcus Star), Lenka Buschova (Freaky Angel v1, v2), and Ying Zhou Cheng (Shanghai Passion, boys love). Also included is a flash movie adaptation of the beginning of Freaky Angel.

Various Artist Updates

January 8, 2007

Rather than report on anything from the publishers, here are a few interesting posts by the artists of the German “global manga” scene themselves.

Marie Sann (artist of Sketchbook Berlin, from Tokyopop) recently posted a photo of herself- various pinups from her manga are visible in the background.

Irina Frisorger, aka Rin, also has a blog- and being a contributor to Manga Fieber 3 (from Tokyopop), she posted about the newsletter announcement that went out- unlike our post, however, hers has the self portrait she did for the release! Rin has also had an ongoing story in the Paper Theatre anthologies (v2-4), called Wunjo.  She has posted a wallpaper and page sample, which can be seen here. Wunjo is visually one of the stronger pieces in Paper Theatre, and while it’s currently on hiatus, it will be interesting to see where she takes it in the future.

Anike Hage’s homepage recently went back online, so any fans of Gothic Sports should be sure to check it out. She’s one of Tokyopop’s stars, to be sure.

Don’t forget that Judith Park and the head of Daisuki will be taking part in an online chat run by AnimeY tomorrow between 6 and 8pm (CET).

On Monday, Georg F. W. Tempel, head of EMA, answered questions in a chat held by Splashcomics.

He stated that currently, DuO is working on Independent volume 3, Diane Liesaus is working on Musouka, and that the third of their global manga for next year, Gott Gauss, will be published in August of 2007. While there no specific plans at the moment, merchandise, like the highlighter designed by DuO, will be produced in the future from time to time.
Mr. Tempel also explained sales a little, stating that manga sales remain at a constant level, and that a manga is considered successful in Germany if at least 10,000 copies are sold, while a true flop sells less than 2000 copies. On that note, while German manga is currently mainly a question of image for the publishing house, sales are improving, and DuO’s Independent is one of the more successful German series for EMA, with the first print-run of volume 1 sold out. He also stated that BL and romance are the best-selling genres, regardless of whether they’re Japanese or German manga, with comedy doing very poorly.
He also explained that, as opposed to Tokyopop America’s rule, the number of volumes for a global series is determined by the artists, not the publisher; however, the upper limit that artists tend to choose appears to be 3 volumes. Also different from America is the fact that German global manga is mostly published in the Japanese reading direction, which Mr. Tempel explained is another choice the vast majority of artists make. As opposed to in America, there was only a very small discussion, and only in the very beginning, concerning reading direction in Germany.
Finally, the head of EMA mentioned that there are no plans to do any experiments similar to Carlsen’s CHIBI-line.

Head of Tokyopop.de Chat

November 6, 2006

AnimeY has announced that on January 17, 2007, they’ll be hosting a chat with Dr. Joachim Kaps, the head of Tokyopop.de. This will be their third chat with him, and it’s being held due to the large number of requests from fans. Joachim Kaps, the previous head of Carlsen Comics, will be available for two hours, between 6 and 8 pm (central European time), to talk about the planned Tokyopop 2007 program and answer questions from readers. Info about the chatroom can be found here.
Hope to see you there!

Last week we announced that Splashcomics would be holding a chat with the author/artist team of Tokyopop.de‘s Evergrey, Mary Hildebrandt and David Boller.

David answered questions about the global manga scene in Germany versus that in the US, about the creative process behind Evergrey, and about when we might see Ouija (working title) released.
Here’s a translated transcript for your reading pleasure.

Noah: I just wanted to ask how translating works. :)
DavidB: We write the script in English, then I translate it and Jo Kaps, the editor [and CEO of Tokyopop.de], works on it. It’s a little difficult, because I don’t speak German that often anymore… In Evergrey, a lot of the language is intentionally old fashioned, especially the vampire scenes. Mary read a lot of Goethe, like Faust
Noah: How far are you on volume 2?
DavidB: The whole book is written, and a couple of things are scripted. The cover is done, and the first chapter is in the works…
Noah: How long did you need for volume 1?
DavidB: Too long… the work had to be interrupted a couple of times because of a kidney transplant…
Noah: Are you done with the first volume of Ouija (working title)?
DavidB: Ouija is done, and we’re waiting for the final approval from the editors. The name will be changed, because we can’t use it due to copyright laws. A new name is currently being worked out.
Noah: Can Ouija be expected to come out in TOKYOPOP’s spring program (April-July 2007)?
DavidB: To be honest, I can’t promise that. You’d have to ask Tpop. But I really hope so. :) The second book is already written, the cover is done, and the first chapter is pretty far along…
Mariat: What’s working with an editor like when you live abroad? Is talking about it on the phone really difficult because of time zones…?
Bernd: By the way, New York is 6 hours behind. :)
DavidB: We mainly talk online. Time zones aren’t really that big of a problem, since it’s only six hours. And all files are uploaded onto the Tpop server via FTP.
Noah: How many hours a day do you draw?
DavidB: A lot… Don’t forget that we do a lot of things on the computer, so time gets split up between drawing and other things… so roughly 10 hours a day…
Milo: I noticed a slight stylistic difference between the first chapters of the manga and the artwork. Were the artworks created much later?
DavidB: What do you mean by artwork? Color pages?
Milo: Illustrations. :-)
DavidB: They were created inbetween. Of course, in the first volume, it’s a little difficult to tune into it… you can also see that with a lot of Japanese manga…
Noah: What’re your favorite manga? :)
DavidB: Mary’s favorite is Gon. Little Butterfly, Kiss Me Student, etc…
Xenebi: David, I have a pretty general question. How do you discover talent in drawing, and how can you further it?
DavidB: I have always drawn, and as a seven year old, drew my first 60 page comic. Then I designed my own volumes. You just stay on it, and draw more and more and more…
Xenebi: And with time you develop your own style?
DavidB: Exactly. After all, you draw what interests you, and the longer you draw, the better you get. Your own style is pretty important…
Milo: So, have your works only been published in German, or in the US as well? If so, how was that decision made?
DavidB: As far as I know, Tpop USA has agreed to publish Evergrey in the States, but there isn’t a definite date yet. Mary will probably have to do a couple of script revisions. I think the decision was made by Mike Kiley and his editing team.
Milo: Do you see a big difference between the German and the US market? Possibly between the readers, or your target audience?
DavidB: I think the German market is about five years ahead of the US market. I know that Tpop US really likes most of the German projects…
Milo: That’s great. Sounds like it’ll really encourage German artists. :-)
zellchan: Is there more info on when Ouija will come out in Germany? Even though I really like the style of Karma! :) [info about Karma can be found on their site.]
DavidB: Karma is a little side story of Ouija, a kind of prequel. The ghosts are really great, and I think that a lot of Bone readers might be really interested in it…
scribble: Does the choice of target audience influence your work at all? As in, do you draw and write for an American audience in a different way than you would for a German audience?
DavidB: I think we really created something international with Evergrey. Ouija may sell better in Europe, because of the humor…
Noah: Is Ouija a single volume?
DavidB: Ouija‘s second volume has a lot of fantastical stuff. Lots of Egyptian influences. It should look really pretty… Ouija is planned as a three-volume series. It’s relatively epic, what with the ghost world… Volume one has a really nice ghost gallery.
Milo: So did you apply to Tokyopop with a complete concept, or was a lot left open that you then worked out together with your editor?
DavidB: The concepts were pretty developed. Everything changed a little, but the basic concept stayed the same. I have to say, that we did a lot of that online, with the flash trailer and all the “bells and whistles”. It took quite a while to put it all together, too… We naturally have more and more ideas, which may become series sometime. Mary sleeps with her notebook in her bed, because dreams are often good ideas. I read a lot and get ideas from articles in newspapers.
Noah: What’re the chances that you may show up for the Leipzig Bookfair in 2007?
DavidB: Pretty pretty good. We’d be very happy to meet you all and scribble a little in your books.
Milo: Have you ever been to fairs that large and done signings?
DavidB: We didn’t really have a lot of time to walk around, but we had a table with our doujinshi at the NYC Comicon in February 06, and last month we were at MangaNEXT.
Zellchan: I figure US cons are a lot larger than ours…
DavidB: NYC Comicon was huge. They had to send 10,000 people home on Saturday. But that’s nothing compared to Comiket in Tokyo.
Xenebi: Is it very stressful being a mangaka? How often are you pressed for time?
DavidB: Yes, sometimes the stress is very overwhelming. But it’s easier because it’s something I love. Unfortunately, it’s very expensive to live in New Jersey, so drawing can be really stressful. You have to really love it…
Milo: Is the work on your manga a full-time job?
DavidB: Absolutely. You can’t do this part-time. The details in the completed work are just too overwhelming to do them on the side. We are very harsh on ourselves, so we only put out the best we can. We have a big part in the production, too… logos, etc… So it’s a lot of work…
Milo: Does it seem unreal to draw for people that live so far away on another continent?
DavidB: I’ve always worked with people from all over. Mary once worked with someone from Nigeria. It’s a small world…
Milo: Do you translate everything?
DavidB: I translate everything myself, and then it’s edited. I think that’s better, because I know the story better than most other people. But it isn’t easy… First and foremost, I’m an artist, and old English can be really hard for me…
Milo: Do you think something gets lost in translation?
DavidB: Maybe a little, but as far as the feedback I’ve gotten goes, even small details have been understood really well in the German version. A lot of it really depends on the person who’s translating it. We have a couple of books by Goethe in German and English, and the translation is great… nothing is lost… but it’s a lot of work to figure out a good translation. You have to love the work.
Milo: Could you imagine your works in other media? Like as a novel or audio drama?
DavidB: Multimedia is cool. Totally. Look at the Evergrey trailer. I know it’s basic, but wouldn’t an Evergrey anime be so cool? Novels would be cool too. We’re definitely open to anything…
Milo: And how important is an “exchange platform” like the Tokyopop forum? Do you stop by there a lot?
DavidB: Very often. Especially since the book just came out, and we want to get as much feedback as we can. Believe it or not, your appreciation makes a big difference. It’s really motivating…
Milo: How far would you consider the wishes of fans? Would their be a conflict with your own version of the project? And who do you draw the manga more for, yourself or for the fans?
DavidB: I think that in pop culture there always has to be an exchange. Of course, we always want to create something that’s popular, without giving up on our own ideas too much. So it has to be a part of us, but not so private that no one else can understand it. For example, if everyone had said that they had no clue what was going on, we definitely would have had to change stuff.
Milo: Were there explicit changes that had to be made due to the publisher’s suggestion? Was there something that was really difficult for you?
DavidB: There were a couple of small edits. A page had to be redrawn (I think page 16?) and a couple of other small things. Tokyopop is very good to us. But we did a lot of things well from the beginning. I’ve had a lot of experience with print and computers, so it all worked really well… The only thing that was difficult was the health issues.
Milo: Why did you have to change the page?
DavidB: The style wasn’t consistent, and the composition wasn’t savable either. Not the end of the world.
Xenebi: So in the end, it’s probably really great to hold your work in your hands, right? ^^
DavidB: To be honest, I haven’t seen the book yet. I assume it’s okay, if you all think it is. :) Of course, I know every square centimeter of the book, so it’ll be great once it arrives. But for me, it’s more about the making than the results. To look at it philosophically, the path is more important than the goal…
Milo: How much influence does Mary have on the design of the manga and the drawings? Or is that all left to you?
DavidB: No, we talk about all of that. The style is mostly mine, but the clothes, poses and layouts are discussed. It’s total teamwork… For example, Szandor’s white hair and skin were Mary’s ideas. She didn’t want a typical vampire, but a kind of “vampire outcast.”
Milo: Are there some situations where you disagree? If so, who usually wins? ;-)
DavidB: Mary always wins. ;)
Milo: How long did it take you to work out the concept for Evergrey? I mean, the time that you productively worked on it.
DavidB: Before the pitch?
Milo: Since you said “now we’ll make our idea into a manga!” until you handed in the last pages of volume 1. Or maybe until you got Tokyopop’s approval.
DavidB: Originally, the basic idea of Evergrey was meant for the RSOM contest over here. Then we changed our minds, and I guess it was about six months of back and forth and reworking… The basic idea used to be a lot less complex, but it grew and grew. At that point, it became an epic series.
Milo: Interesting! What do you think about the German version of this project for newcomers? Have you ever had a look at Manga Fieber?
DavidB: I’ve seen it, but I have the book. Some great artists seem to have come from it, which is great, but I hate the covers (maybe I’m not alone concerning that). The ones over here weren’t so great either. Maybe it’s just difficult to find a good design with so many artists…
Milo: Over here, the authors don’t have much of a hand in cover-design… hehe! ;-) How did the RSOM competition go? Did you participate?
DavidB: Here either… We didn’t, no. I think that if you submit something, then the story belongs to Tpop [DM note: this is untrue, unless you win], and we didn’t want to risk that. It wouldn’t have made too much sense either, since we prefer making whole books to short stories. You can’t do much Evergrey in 20 pages. :)
Milo: In Germany, it’s less of a contest. To be honest, it’s not at all. What do you think about such contests? Are the Rising Stars of Manga truly found?
DavidB: It definitely helps. I don’t think it’s bad at all. The winners, are of course a matter of taste. I believe that the handing-out of book contracts could have been a little more careful over here. But if it helps find good authors, then it’s okay…
Milo: How’s the artist community over there? Here, it’s relatively close. Pretty much everyone knows everyone, especially through communities like Animexx. What’s that like in the US?
DavidB: The States are just pretty big. I always compare it to fish. In Germany (or Switzerland), you’re easily the big fish in a small lake… but over here, you’re often a small fish in an ocean. The community is okay, but not as well organized as in Germany. You can meet a lot of mangaka on livejournal or deviantart.
Milo: So is it harder for artists in the US, in your opinion?
DavidB: Absolutely. But there are also more opportunities. In general, the climate over here is “less friendly”…
Milo: That’s a shame. Congrats on making it. Do you have role models? Maybe even authors/artists in the USA?
DavidB: Well, so far so good. The books still have to come out in the US and sell here. Right now, OEL has a hard time, because the bookstores feel flooded, and a lot of non-mainstream titles aren’t put out anymore. Just look at the sales of non-mainstream titles on Amazon.com, and you’ll see what I mean… We have a lot of role models, but mostly from anime/manga, and not so much OEL. We both would love to be involved in anime. It’s sort of a dream. Hopefully we won’t have to wait for long, though…
Milo: Do you think that western comics in manga style will have a chance in Japan at some point?
DavidB: I have no hope… sorry… I think that the Japanese have more material than they need. I know a couple of Japan-specialists over here, and they’ve all told me that they doubt it’ll work out. Too bad, it’d be really cool…