North American manga publisher Viz Media announced plans to launch Viz Originals, a new imprint that will publish original graphic novels by artists inspired by manga and anime. Plans for the new imprint were announced during the Viz Media panel at Emerald City Comic Con this weekend.

Veteran manga professional Fawn Lau has been named executive editor of Viz Originals, which will release its first titles in 2020. Lau said that Viz Originals is soliciting pitches for new works of manga-inspired titles. She called the announcement “a soft launch of the imprint. We want to hear from artists. We’ve got some things in the works now but we’re not ready to announce.”

Viz Media executive v-p and publisher Leyla Aker told PW that the imprint will launch with “a handful of titles” but the house does not yet have an exact number to announce. “Viz Originals will be an incubator for innovative ideas and storytelling. It’s a long-term initiative and we want to do it right, not fast,” Aker said.

One of the largest publishers of licensed Japanese comics (aka manga) in North America, Viz Media is the publisher of such bestselling manga series as My Hero Academia, Tokyo Ghoul, Pokemon, Naruto and One Piece. Viz has also published original graphic novels in the past. “We’ve done some original licensed material, but Viz Originals will expand the program,” Lau said. She said the new imprint will feature “mostly creator-owned” works. She also expects to publish “adaptations of prose works and gaming tie-ins” and other works that appeal to the target audience.

Viz Originals titles will be published in left-to-right English language format (licensed translated manga are published in their original right-to-left Japanese format). The new imprint will offer both multi-volume series and single release original graphic novels. Fans can expect both the traditional manga trim size and a larger-size graphic novel format.

Aker said the new imprint is aimed at a generation of young North American artists inspired by the manga style, but often discouraged from pursuing a career as a manga artist. “We want to create a creative space for these creators and get their work published,” she said.