Is Manga Dying in the U.S.?
In case you’re coming late to the party, it seems the American manga market is drying up faster than our mother’s brisket on Sunday nights. Our first hint came when Publishers Weekly recently reported that Viz Media, one of the largest publishers of manga in the U.S., laid off 40% of their staff. This included closing a small New York based office, and putting as many as 55 people packing up their desks. Following on their heels, DC Comics’ Dan DiDio and Jim Lee announced today that the doors of the DC Manga imprint, CMX, will be closed on July 1st. In addition to these two large announcements, Go! Comi, a smaller North American manga publisher let it’s website domain expire on May 8th, and has since ceased it’s activity.
What’s at the root of all of this decimation? While we wished it was some form of attack, perhaps from Sachiel, Shamshel, or Arael from Neon Genesis Evangelion, or perhaps a dastardly plot by Orochimaru… Sadly, in this case, it’s most likely due to the state of both the American and worldwide economy. As reported at The Beat, Gia Manry of Viz was asked if this was a time for panic:
“…this is probably closer to VIZ still at the dock, realizing that the boat won’t survive the trip at its current weight and therefore removing what it can before setting sail. VIZ is, after all, no stranger to the occasional unpopular move made to preserve the business. With no obvious “next Naruto” on the rise and big hit Fullmetal Alchemist about to end its run in Japan as well as general economic difficulties world-wide, it should come as no surprise that VIZ is tightening its belt for what may be a pretty lean year– or several.”
Speaking to CBR, Dan DiDio and Jim Lee released a joint statement:
“The shuttering of the CMX line does not affect the best-selling series Megatokyo which will continue publication, now as a DC Comics title with story and art by Megatokyo’s award-winning creator Fred Gallagher.
“We’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the efforts and dedication of the CMX staff and to thank our fans who have supported CMX.”
And all of this comes on the heels of a New York Times story that discussed the recent popularity of manga at the Quuens Library branch in Bayside, where children of all ages and ethnicities were drawn to the japanese comic books. Perhaps too little too late?
So, Comic Mix’ers… what does this news mean for you? Having watched the rise of Dragonball, Dragonball Z, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Bakugan, Naruto, One Piece, Full Metal Alchemist, Death Note, Bleach, and it’s brethren… does anyone feel that maybe the American marketplace finally reached it’s saturation point? Maybe the rise of popularity by American born licenses and subtle shift in programming on TV has pushed the zeitgeist back towards the western world? We leave it open to you to discuss below in the comments. We’ll be sure to follow any more developments as they arise.