This post, in its original incarnation was a stupid rant about how I can’t find more work in the manga industry right now. I thought about publishing it today and decided against it because it was just me whining. Then this little announcement from Tokyopop comes along…
The thing about this is that Hetalia vol. 3 had finished production right before Stu Levy shut Tokyopop down. Aside from printing, distribution, etc., it is paid for. Stu, if he still has the rights to publish it, can publish the heck out of Hetalia vol. 3 if he wants to.
The thing is: it’s not fair to the fans. (And I don’t mean just the Hetalia fans.) It is unfair because there are many fans out there who would love to see the next volume of Maid Sama, Gakuen Alice and all the other Tokyopop titles that they were expecting before the sudden shutdown. In fact, they’ve said so in the comments of that Facebook status. Clearly, fans want Tokyopop back, even if it’s just for that one last volume of their favorite series.
And there are volumes of Maid Sama, Gakuen Alice, Skyblue Shore and a number of other titles that we had finished production on only a few weeks before Tokyopop’s closure was announced. I was working on scripts for Chibisan Date and Diary of a Crazed Family right before the closure. I had even asked my managing editor to work on Flat after its previous editor had been laid off, but that title was months away from reaching editorial.
That means there are quite a number of licenses paid for and/or nearly ready for print. Stu could, if he wanted to, finish up the production with some help and put those titles out, assuming the Japanese rights holders haven’t yanked away those licenses already. I don’t know if he’d make the same kind of money off them as he would Hetalia, which sold gangbusters, but he’d probably still make some money off the more popular ones.
But, I’m guessing, this facebook status does not signal the resurrection of Tokyopop or a chance at getting Hetalia vol. 4 published. It’s probably a grab for money, to cut some of the losses that Tokyopop took by shutting down, although I couldn’t say for sure.
What I can say for sure is that I miss working for Tokyopop as much as I miss the excellent titles they had on their roster. (And some of the less excellent titles too. Zone-00 may have had only half a dozen fans, but I was one of them.)
It was slightly less enjoyable towards the end, with my workload snowballing horrifically and the awful lettering teams we had, but I enjoyed almost everything I worked on. Tokyopop gave me a consistent work schedule and consistent pay, something I’m not getting in the manga industry without them.
If I could work with the people I worked with at Tokyopop again, I would do it in a heartbeat. Even for the same pay, which I now know is too low. I didn’t work directly with Stu, so the fact that the company is his wouldn’t bother me unless he made himself part of the production process again. But I would totally take back the Tokyopop where Stu ran around and did weird vanity projects while the rest of us worked on manga because that’s all we could really hope for at this point.
And, in the end, it would make me happy to see my name on the Hetalia credits page once more. Just not like this, Stu. If you’re going to publish manga again, please bring Tokyopop, the North American manga publisher, back to life.