Earlier this evening, the Tokyopop manga Twitter feed posted the following...
Just came back from a brief meeting with Stu where we talked about our next step as a publisher.Tokyopop, for those who don't remember, decided to quit publishing manga in the United States a little over a year ago. Creators and agents began shopping their properties, many of which Tokyopop had published only partially, to other publishers. Some were picked up, some weren't. They continued publishing in Europe, I believe, but Tokyopop's presence in the US was substantially curtailed. Then, last month, Tokyopop CEO Stu Levy announced that they would continue publication of Hidekaz Himaruya's Hetalia, details to be forthcoming.
So the question is: if we published more OEL in the very near future, what would you want to see and how quickly would you want to see it?
Would you like to see us release new volumes of our old OEL titles ASAP or would you prefer we stagger it over the course of a few months?
Just for clarification, we say OEL because that's what we can easily do next as a publisher, whereas manga will take more time to negotiate.
Now, it looks like they're trying to jump back into the manga market quickly, perhaps to make up for the past year in which they almost literally threw away all of their manga licenses. I'm not entirely surprised, given that Levy has something of a history of changing directions at the drop of a hat, but it still seems unusual to make such a drastic change to try to return from such a drastic change only a year ago. If other folks do manage to pick up this story amid all the Comic-Con business, I can almost guarantee someone will use the term "whiplash."
I think Levy and Tokyopop do deserve a lot of credit for helping to make manga popular here in the States. I doubt there are many people who would deny that. But with radical upsets like this, I can't help but wonder how much MORE they could have done for manga if they could keep the company focused. Levy's got a definite love of the medium and plenty of energy to market it, but damn if he doesn't seem to always be distracted by the nearest shiny object.