In a move that marks the growing stature of non-Japanese manga, the Japanese house Kodansha will publish a Japanese-language edition of Megatokyo, the American original manga Web comic and book series created by Fred Gallagher. Volume 1 of the series will be published in 2008 in a silver slipcased box as part of Kodansha Box editions, a new manga line started in November 2006. To promote the new edition, a 30-page preview of Megatokyo volume 1, featuring a new comics page about the characters of Megatokyo, translation notes and an introduction to manga created outside of Japan will be published in the September 2007 issue of Faust, a quarterly literary review featuring prose and manga works that is also published by Kodansha.
Kodansha’s publication of Megatokyo will make Gallagher one of the few Western manga-influenced creators to be published by a major Japanese manga house for a Japanese audience. “I feel honored to be picked by Kodansha,” said Gallagher, “and excited to be able to present Megatokyo to Japanese readers.” Gallagher said Kodansha’s senior foreign rights manager, Tomoko Suga, who also oversees Kodansha titles published by Del Rey Manga, approached him at the 2006 San Diego Comic-con about publishing Megatokyo in Japan. Faust editor Katsushi Ohta said he was very interested to see the Japanese reaction to Megatokyo, “I want to go to Akihabara [a hip Tokyo neighborhood] to observe how people will pick up the book in the stores, see what comments they might have."
Depending on reader response, Kodansha expects to publish the entire Megatokyo book series, which is now published in the U.S. by DC Comics’ CMX manga line, which has published Megatokyo volumes 4 and 5. Megatokyo volumes 1-3 are published by Dark Horse Books. Faust has published work by a number of notable Japanese artists such as Kinoko Nasu (Tsukihime) and Hajime Ueda (FLCL). An English-language edition of Faust is scheduled for release in the U.S. next year.
Megatokyo is the story of two comical American hardcore video gamers—the sensitive and self-doubting Piro and the outrageously overconfident Largo—stranded in Tokyo. Launched as a Web comic in 2000, Megatokyo began attracting nearly 50,000 Web visitors a day. In 2003, Dark Horse began publishing the book series, and Gallagher moved the series to DC/CMX in 2006.
Gallagher said that while he’s very much influenced by Japanese manga style, he hopes Megatokyo offers something original. “One of my goals was to create a work that anyone could read and really not care about the background of the artist,” he said. “Even if you’re influenced by Japanese manga, original manga creators have to try and introduce stuff that maybe a Japanese creator couldn’t do.”