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.