Digital delivery drove the news coming out of San Diego Comic-Con International as Viz Media launched VizManga.com, an online portal providing for-pay access to 40 different manga series on the iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone at the launch. In addition there were announcements of new titles at Abrams ComicsArts, more on the DC Comics relaunch, as well as plans for a Kickstarter.com project to build a statue of autobiographical comics writer Harvey Pekar in his hometown of Cleveland.
The new Web site VizManga.com was announced during Viz’s 25th anniversary party last night and joins Viz’s existing digital app program for iOS devices. Initial titles available through the site will include Naruto, Blue Exorcist, Ouran High School Host Club and Vampire Knight. Pricing on manga titles on the site and those available on the the Viz manga app will be identical. In addition, the first chapter of all VizManga.com series will be free and pricing for VizManga.com’s titles on the web will be discounted 40% off through July 31.
“Our digital publishing team wants manga to be available to as many fans as possible, no matter what device or digital experience people prefer,” said Brian Piech, v-p Digital Publishing. “Making our extensive library of the best titles direct from Japan available on VizManga.com is a natural extension of our current Viz Manga apps available on all iOS devices.” The move to launch VizManga.com comes just as the Digital Comics Association of Japan, a trade association of 39 Japanese digital comics publishers works to address digital piracy of manga by offering online access to the latest manga from Japan. The group has created the Jmanga.com portal and plan to offer more news about the forthcoming Web site on Friday.
In other developments, AbramsComics Arts has teamed with Alvin Buenaventura, publisher of the much-praised indie comics anthology Kramer’s Ergot, who will edit The Art of Dan Clowes: Modern Cartoonist, a new book providing an overview of the works and career of Ghost World creator Dan Clowes. In addition Abrams ComicsArts executive editor Charles Kochman announced plans to publish Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular and the New Land, a new anthology by the late Harvey Pekar and Paul Buhle that features a range of artists talking about Jewish life. The book is one of the last books Pekar was working on before he died.
And at a Comic-Con spotlight panel highlighting her own long career in comics, Joyce Brabner, Pekar’s widow, announced plans to mount a Kickstarter campaign (smithmag.net/pekarproject/memorial) to build a statue in Cleveland in memorial to Harvey Pekar. Brabner was joined by Jeff Newelt, Smithmag.com comics editor and editor of the Pekar Project, and Josh Frankel, publisher of Zip Comics, an indie comics house that will also publish Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland, a new graphic memoir by Pekar with art by Joseph Remnant, slated for release in winter 2011.
In superhero news, DC held the first of four panels devoted to its New 52 initiative, which will see their entire line relaunched in September with new #1 titles. DC’s editorial and creative crew addressed a capacity crowd with details of the relaunch books and answers to audience questions. DC Entertainment co-publisher Dan DiDio asked the crowd why they felt anxious about the relaunch and explained why the move was necessary. “We needed to make our line more accessible and more vibrant. Numbers don’t mean anything if there’s no one around to read them.” Projects discussed included Demon Knights, which writer Paul Cornell described as “medieval superheroes,” and a new take on Wonder Woman that artist Cliff Chiang said would “hit the ground running.”