GEN Manga Entertainment, which specializes in publishing Japanese independent comics simultaneously in English and Japanese and in print and digital formats, is launching GEN Manhwa, a new monthly anthology of Korean comics beginning this month. To launch the new anthology GEN is also offering Sorako by Takayuki Fujimura, an original 154 page manhwa graphic novel for $2.99. Manhwa is the Korean term for comics.
The GEN Manga business model, and now the GEN Manhwa model, offer fans access to monthly anthologies of Asian comics released first in digital (for $1.99 a month) and then in print editions available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon for $9.99. GEN Manga and GEN Manhwa are also available for digital downloads via iTunes and the Iverse Media Comics Plus app.
As an introductory offer for the new anthology, GEN Manga editor-in-chief Robert McQuire said that all subscribers to GEN Manga will receive free access to all GEN Manhwa content, including “Stone Collector” by Kevin Han and Zom-J, the story of cursed stones that turn people into zombies, which will be serialized in the anthology, and Sorako, a standalone graphic novel about an young, typical Korean girl and her dog. Digital editions of GEN standalone original graphic manga/manhwa titles sell for either $1.99 or $2.99. The discount introductory offer will last for a month.
GEN Manga publishes “doujinshi” or comics akin to American independent or alternative comics. The publisher, which publishes in Japan and in the U.S., was among the first publishers of licensed Japanese manga to begin publishing simultaneously in Japanese and English. Simultaneous publication is considered critical at a time when North American manga fans demand to read the same popular manga titles that Japanese fans (and now Korean fans) are reading. Simultaneous publication, rather than waiting a year or more to license and republish in English, is also considered key to fighting manga online piracy.
While Japanese manga and Korean manhwa may look much the same to the casual or first time manga reader, GEN Manga editor-in-chief Robert McQuire explained that, “hard-core manga fans know there’s a difference, a big distinction between the two,” when asked why the company launched a second anthology. “The fans would be upset if we just published Korean manhwa and called it ‘manga,’” he said.
GEN Manga has released about 16 digital/print volumes and McGuire said the manhwa anthology will begin releasing print editions after it has published enough material. Print volumes are generally released about a month after the digital issue is published. GEN also plans to begin releasing more standalone graphic novels (called Tankoban in Japan) from Japan and Korea, as well.