Perhaps the most buzzed about announcement at the NY Anime Fest was the teaser for a deal between superhero powerhouse Marvel and Del Rey's manga arm. The details didn't disappoint: new manga versions of two members of Marvel's hugely successful X-men franchise.
First, the X-men will be reimagined in a shojo (girl's) manga version written by Raina Telgemeier (Babysitter's Club) and Dave Roman (Agnes Quill). The art is by Malaysian artist Anzu (The Reformed.)
The second manga will be a shonen (boy's) version of Wolverine, written by Brit Antony Johnston (Wasteland, Alex Rider). Editor Dallas Middaugh is still searching for the artist.
Marvel v-p Ruwan Jayatilleke and editor CB Cebulski were on hand from Marvel, while Tricia Narwani and Middaugh represented Del Rey for the announcement. Both series have been signed for two manga-sized volumes, with the first X-men book to appear in Spring '09; the books will be about 2—pages long. The X-men volume will feature Kitty Pryde as the only girl in an all-boy mutant school. Editor Tricia Narwani described it as "Fruits Basket meets the X-Men."
While there may be some audience crossover, and the books will build on the concepts that have made the X-men and Wolverine so successful over the years, the manga will be "squarely aimed at the manga audience", according to Middaugh. The new approaches will be true to the characters, but very little will be continuity based. He compared the approach to the way the X-men movies make the characters accessible for a new audience: tweaking some details but keeping the core of the concepts.
|Jean Grey by Anzu; art not final.|
Marvel has dabbled in manga-styled takes on their characters before, notably with a Marvel Mangaverse created by North American talent about five years ago. Previous attempts weren't always the best, Cebulski acknowledged, but this time they decided to partner with Del Rey, with whom they had a preexisting relationship with some Iron Man licensed titles. "There's no better partner [than Del Rey]," Said Cebulski. "We do the superheroes, they're best at doing the manga, so why don't we put the leaders in two genres together and come up with some kind of line that's going to blow people away from both sides of the aisle?"
Del Rey supplied concept art by Anzu but noted that they are not representative of the final X-Men character art or the art from the Wolverine shonen project. Also, Wolverine will not be a featured character in the shojo X-Men project.