Titan Comics is launching a new manga imprint, Titan Manga, this month beginning with the publication of the first volume of a new “director’s cut” of Takashi Okazaki’s Afro Samurai (first serialized in 1998), followed by the launch of ATOM: The Beginning, a prequel to manga master Osamu Tezuka’s classic Astro Boy, in October, and Kamen Rider Kuuga, a new manga based on the classic Japanese television series Kamen Rider, in November.
“Titan Manga will be looking to publish series that we love and know that fans have been waiting for,” said acquisitions editor Duncan Baizley. “It’s very much a case of quality control, first and foremost. The market has grown exponentially, but our approach is still very much the same as it is for comics: we carefully identify fantastic titles that we know have a passionate community. Afro Samurai is the benchmark for our approach, and the plan is to build on that. We’re not thinking about volume, although there certainly isn’t a shortage of amazing titles out there.”
Titan, which is based in the U.K. but has a strong U.S. presence, actually began publishing manga in 2016 with Sherlock: A Study in Pink, a direct adaptation of the BBC television series, and Assassin’s Creed: Awakening. Both of these made sense for Titan, which also publishes Western comics adaptations of Assassin’s Creed, along with a host of other licensed series, including Doctor Who, Life Is Strange, and Blade Runner. Other manga Titan has published over the years include Junko Mizuno’s 2017 Ravina the Witch? and Endo Yoshimizu’s Ryuko, which was initially published under Titan’s Hard Case Crime imprint in 2019.
Titan Manga will debut with Afro Samurai, a new edition of a series first published in English by Seven Seas in 2008. The two-volume manga started out as a dojinshi, or self-published comic, and creator Takashi Okazaki loosely based his main character on an actual African samurai, Yasuke, who lived during the late 1500s. The manga was adapted into an anime in 2007, with Samuel L. Jackson voicing the main character. Titan is working directly with Okazaki on the director’s cut, which will have a larger trim size, new covers, and a new foreword by the creator. There will also be a limited edition of 1,000 with a special foil stamped cover that will be distributed only to comic shops.
ATOM: The Beginning by Tetsuro Kashahara is set before Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy and starts out as a prequel, though the story (which is up to volume 17 in Japan) eventually diverges. (Makoto Tezuka, Osamu Tezuka’s son, is one of the contributing writers.) Part of the series was adapted into an anime television series in 2017.
Kamen Rider Kuuga is based on the television series of the same name, which itself is the 10th iteration of the original Kamen Rider series (featuring a motorcycle-riding superhero) and the first to take place entirely in the Heisei period—in other words, the first 21st-century version.
Baizley said Titan plans to put out a new volume of these series every two months. “Thinking as fans, it feels like the perfect balance between time and cost expectations,” he said. “You’re not waiting too long or spending too much.
Unlike most North American manga publishers, Titan is not affiliated with a specific Japanese publisher, so they find manga in a variety of ways, including partnering with Argentinian publisher StoneBot for ATOM: The Beginning and Kamen Rider Kuuga. “We’re working very closely with StoneBot to identify target titles, not just for the world English market but beyond, as well,” Baizley said. “Between us we have over 60 years of experience in the manga market, so it was the perfect team-up.
“There are no barriers to what we’d like to publish,” Baizley said. “If someone brings me an amazing title they love, then that’s the start of every Titan Manga launch’s journey.”