Trimming Fat With a Bonesaw

Recently, Marco Pavia confirmed that TokyoPop has laid off 8 more people, including Hyun Joo Kim, who was instrumental in the World of Warcraft manga and hiring Korean talent to do world manga for T-Pop, as well as Bryce Coleman, the man in charge of color graphic novels.

Pavia claims that “It’s one of the worst selling periods in history,” and goes on to suggest that “[TokyoPop is] trying to be responsive to the new realities, and unfortunately some very talented people have been cut.” Downsizing is a popular business strategy when times get tough, but there’s a line you can’t cross as a business before you completely disable yourself. Trimming the fat is one thing, but it seems like TokyoPop is doing its trimming with a bonesaw. While other companies like Viz, DelRey, and Yen Press are staying active with releases, TokyoPop falls further and further behind.

I’m not sure I agree with T-Pop’s statement, although, for the record, I am not a manga publisher, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. I can’t really see the disposable income of single boys and men who are into manga disappearing because of a bad economy. Other manga publishers are being cautious, that’s true, but reports seem fairly optimistic about the fate of comics and graphic novels in 2009. But let me assure you, I can definitely see that demographic giving up on a series if they’re put through excessive wait times. How many people would keep up with the Naruto manga if it released twice a year (and let’s pretend it’s not being published in an anthology, because T-Pop doesn’t have one.) I couldn’t.

A thought in this slow down direction: perhaps TokyoPop’s manga printing slow down is causing this terrible selling period for them? I know slowing down your publishing rates seems like a good idea, but it’s possible that T-Pop is suffering from the backlash of angry fans; fans who believe their beloved series are dwindling into nothing. Fans who are afraid that they’re not going to get everything they want out of a series (most importantly is, of course, an ending.) Why should I pick up a new series from TokyoPop at this time? Their current business practices can’t confirm or promise an ending. For what it’s worth, T-Pop, here’s my advice; stick it out, but make yourself a gameplan and hold fast to it. Lower some salaries, stop these social networking shinanegans you’re trying, and publish some books. That’s what you do, right? Do it.
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2 thoughts on “Trimming Fat With a Bonesaw

  1. Pingback: MangaBlog » Blog Archive » News and reviews roundup

  2. Oliver says:

    Yes, I totally agree with you. This other media crap (like Princess Ai youtube vids) that T-pop’s investing in is frivolous. Their website is atrocious, but I’ve navigated pretty well through it to seek out some good titles I can find later at stores. I had to go through the website to get the names of series they cut, so that I wouldn’t fall victim to an unfinished story.

    The only way of avoiding heartache about not getting to know the ending of a series is to read series that are complete and printed, or ones that T-pop is sure of getting new volumes out. I’m sorry it is this way, but there are many outstanding series that deserved to be completed.

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