Del Rey Books announced two more manga series it plans to publish next year, and Megatokyo, the popular Web comic and graphic novel series, has entered into a publishing agreement with Dark Horse Comics. The move by Megatokyo's creator, Fred Gallagher, to Dark Horse ends a dispute with his former publishing house that had stalled publication of new titles.

Del Rey Books, which said in June that it was launching a line of manga graphic novels, announced plans to publish Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle and XXXHolic, the first titles of two new series by CLAMP, the four-woman Japanese manga team. Enormously popular in Japan, CLAMP's manga series have gone on to become bestsellers in the U.S. as well. Titles in CLAMP's bestselling Chobits series (published by Tokyopop) have been regularly listed in the top 25 of all adult trade paperback bestsellers on Bookscan, and volume seven in the series was number one on the graphic novel list.

Del Rey Manga is part of the Random House/Kodansha co-publishing venture. Del Rey already announced plans to publish Ken Akamatsu's Negima and Masatsugo Iwase's Gundam Seed, both from Kodansha. Dallas Middaught, director of manga at Del Rey, told PW that XXXHolic is the story of spirit woman who solves people's problems, but at a steep price. Tsubasa features characters from Cardcaptor Sakura, another bestselling CLAMP series, in what will be a cross0ver series featuring characters from all of CLAMP's many creations.

Megatokyo Moves

The first Megatokyo graphic novel was published by I.C. Entertainment, a small manga publisher in Fredericksburg, Va., in January 2002 and sold more than 25,000 copies in about two months. But a disagreement developed between Gallagher and I.C.E. over subsequent reprints of volume one and about publication of the forthcoming volume two.

Although neither party will comment on the dispute, Gallagher has left I.C.E. and is moving to Dark Horse Comics, which will publish Megatokyo: Volume Two in January 2004. Dark Horse will fulfill about 1,400 paid preorders for volume two originally sold by I.C.E. A newly revised edition of volume one (with new material and 5"×7" format) will be released by Dark Horse in the spring of 2004.

Michael Martens, head of business development at Dark Horse, told PW that Megatokyo is "a good fit" for Dark Horse. "Manga is driving everything in the bookstore market right now, and there's definitely a market for American manga," said Martens. "Manga sales just continue to go up. We're getting great backlist sales."

Launched as a serialized Web comic in 2000 by Gallagher, Megatokyo quickly became an Internet and now, a graphic novel publishing phenomenon. The Web comic began attracting as many as 50,000 online readers every day. It's the story of two gaming fans who impulsively hop on a plane to Japan, computer gaming heaven, and find themselves stranded in Tokyo.