GEN Manga, which debuted earlier this year, is carving out a niche in the publishing world for releasing doujinshi—Japanese Indie or self-published comics—via an anthology published in both print and digital form. While it has a huge audience in Japan, Doujinshi is mainly untapped by American publishing companies, and GEN publishes its authors in English at the same time the stories are released in Japan.
Robert McGuire, editor-in-chief of GEN, is looking at different ways he can publish the monthly collection. Most recently, he has turned to Graphicly, which “runs on your desktop, mobile phone, tablet and the web." GEN became available on Graphicly in November.
“You can download and read digital comics just about anywhere,” McGuire explained. “GEN issue 1 is available for free to kick off things, then it will be .99 cents per issue after that.” McGuire praises Graphicly’s panel-to-panel navigation system, wich he terms “awesome.”
But this is only the latest publication platform he’s trying. “We allow users to download multi-platform DRM-free PDFs onto their desktops,” he said. “We offer that through single purchase or subscription models with full access to everything. We want to allow users all over the world to just download the manga and read them.”
GEN is also available in print from Amazon and a select number of stores, including Forbidden Planet NYC, which McGuire called “one of the Meccas of the graphic world.”
“Graphicly will eventually host the collection,” McGuire said. “But right now, the first six-issue anthology has been collected and is available only on genmanga.com. This volume includes extra full color illustrations, concept sketches, and first introductions to the creators. People can get background on the creators and see some new work.”
McGuire, who speaks Japanese and visits the country frequently, picks all the stories included in GEN himself, though he has other professionals to work on the translations.
“For the most part, they [the stories in GEN] are what is known as seinen in the manga world, or mature stories,” he described. “The plots tend to be a little more thoughtful. But, they are varied. VS Aliens is our first stand alone and it fits in a genre that is growing in popularity, ‘moe.’” Moe is a controversial manga genre which deals with characters who appear to be very young and cute. “However, another story, Alive is very literary and thoughtful,” McGuire continues. “In its most recent installment, it starts to push the boundaries of what we generally tend to think of as graphic story telling. And then there is our new upcoming stand alone story, Kamen. This is an action fantasy story about a masked warrior with a mysterious past.”
The publication of GEN in Japan is a little different from the publication in America. “I am the same person publishing them in both languages,” he said. “But, I publish them only on the web [in Japan]. I do not have a Japanese edition print version yet. There is a ‘Japanese’ option on the site that allows you to view the entire site in Japanese. We presently have Japanese subscribers in addition to our English-speaking subscribers (not to mention several other countries).
While McGuire is often the face of GEN, he’s not the only one behind it. “On the creative end, I have two upcoming new artists who are well-published creators in Japan. They are now writing original stories for GEN. Keep an eye out for the December and particularly the January releases for more info. However, on the distribution side as well, we will be working with other channels. Coming very soon, we will be available on all the other major digital distribution networks.”
McGuire said that what he’s doing with GEN is revolutionary in the publishing industry. “First, and most importantly, is that we publish original stories first for our readers. No more licensing old content like the other guys. Two, we publish simultaneously in Japanese and English. And three, we let our readers keep their manga! Readers have full access anywhere in the world and they get to keep it on their machines!”