With U.S. manga sales up for the third year in a row, this year's New York Comic Con featured a robust slate of manga appearances and new license announcements from publishers.
At the ICv2 Insider Talks conference on the first day of the show, ICv2 CEO Milton Griepp estimated that manga sales in 2015 amounted to $85 million, a 13% increase over the previous year. While manga sales have yet to rebound to their 2007 peak of $210 million, 2015 marked the third consecutive year of increased sales.
"Last year, the biggest new titles were Tokyo Ghoul and One-Punch Man from Viz, but lots of titles are doing well, and overall the market is growing," Greipp said. He also noted that digital distribution is becoming more important as publishers offer more ways for fans to read manga digitally.
Kevin Hamric, Viz Media director of sales and marketing, said North American sales at Viz were up 18% YTD, “and up 44% in the U.K.” In the wake of the Pokémon Go gaming craze, Hamric said Viz has been “reprinting every single volume” of the original Pokémon Adventures print series. Viz publishes the two top-selling series Griepp mentioned, as well as another hot series, Assassination Classroom.
Indeed, Yusei Matsui, author of Assassination Classroom, was the highest profile manga artist in attendance at New York Comic con. An event featuring Matsui packed a room with a capacity of 500, and Matsui also participated in Viz's Shonen Jump panel and did several signings.
Yen Press brought in Isuna Hasekura, author of the Spice & Wolf light novels, which have been adapted into manga and anime as well. The press also had a special limited-edition collection of the light novels, with all 17 in a single volume, for sale at the show for about $150.
For the second year in a row, Kodansha Comics brought in a manga editor to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at how manga are made. This year's guest was Yasuyuki Mimura, who has edited Takehiko Inoue's Vagabond, Hiroya Oku's Inuyashiki, and Ryo Hanada's Devil's Line.
Two prominent new properties featured at the show were Japanese/American crossovers. The Attack on Titan Anthology, which debuted at the show and will be available in bookstores on October 18, features short comics by an all-star lineup of Western creators, set in the world of Hajime Isayama's Attack on Titan. Contributors include Batman writer Scott Snyder, Birds of Prey writer Gail Simone, and Eisner Award winner Faith Erin Hicks. And special guests at the Viz booth included voice actors from the animated series RWBY, the first American anime-style series to be officially marketed in Japan.
As is traditional at New York Comic Con, several publishers announced new licenses. Viz Media announced six new licenses, three of them spinoffs of existing series, among them, Boruto: Naruto Next Generation, a sequel to Masashi Kishioto’s bestselling Naruto series that features the son of the famous ninja.
Kodansha Comics announced 11 new series, among them Waiting for Spring by Anashin, a quirky story about a shy girl who comes out of her shell after becoming friends with her school’s basketball team.
Additional reporting by Calvin Reid