The mission of VIZ Originals, American manga publisher Viz Media’s newest imprint, is to deliver original manga-inspired graphic novels and manga adaptations of popular stories from books, television, and film by both debut and established creators. Think of it as an incubator for new voices and storytelling formats.
“VIZ Originals provides us with an exciting opportunity to expand our publishing and work directly with talented creators who have been inspired by manga and anime,” says Sarah Fairhall, editorial director at VIZ Media, who oversees all of the original publishing at VIZ. “The list encompasses debut talent with innovative ideas, new series from creators with established fanbases, adaptations of existing prose works, as well as original manga series featuring licensed IP.”
The San Francisco–based publisher has a number of new titles lined up for readers this year. World Piece by Eisner-nominated writer Josh Tierney and artist Agroshka (June) tells the story of Lucas Densen, a 16-year-old high school student who must save the earth after an unknown alien artifact shrinks it. Devil’s Candy by REM and Bikkuri (July), which began as a popular webcomic, is a hilarious supernatural action-adventure that follows Kazu Decker as he navigates high school.
And coming in October is the second installment of Fangirl, a manga adaptation of Rainbow Rowell’s bestselling novel of the same name. The first volume of Fangirl, adapted by Sam Maggs and Rowell and illustrated by Gabi Nam, published last year. The book features new scenes—all written by Rowell for the manga—featuring fan fiction writer Cath and her fictional creations, Baz and Simon.
From an artistic standpoint, VIZ Originals’ titles will remain true to the design aspects typically associated with manga. “We’re maintaining the black-and-white manga presentation and publishing creators who celebrate the artistry of manga techniques such
as inking styles, dynamic paneling and composition,” says Fawn Lau, executive editor at VIZ Media, who heads up VIZ Originals.
“Many creators have been inspired by manga and have original stories they want to tell in a similar way, so VIZ Originals is a way for us to bring those stories to our manga readers”
The team at VIZ Originals is excited about the imprint’s debut titles, saying they’re just the beginning and illustrate the company’s commitment to the long-form storytelling format. “The aim of VIZ Originals is to publish the kind of storytelling that makes manga such a popular and unique reading experience,” says Lau. “Longer-form stories take the time to develop worldbuilding and grow characters and ultimately encourage readers to become long-term fans—many of whom are inspired to become creators themselves.”