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This was the only time ever in my entire journalistic career that the subject was dressed more formally than myself. I think this says something very important about Mr. Koike. You will be pleased to know that he also rolls with a black-suited assistant; in fact, one on each side. He is definitely the Real Deal, in the "They commence to squabble" sense as well as every other.

Sorry to be late to the game, but fantastic job, Carl! Very well done!

Mr. Koike looks like a fairly bad-ass mofo..I sense behind his friendly Asian Col. Sanders look he could break me in half before I could get my Walther P99 halfway out of the holster....

I was REALLY interested in the comment about the Japanese Gov't subsidizing the paper/printing industry. I should have guessed that was going on, it seems so obvious in hindsight...how else could a resource thin nation afford MILLIONS of 400 page 'phonebooks' published EVERY FRICKIN' WEEK, crap paper notwithstanding...

I mean, 300 Yen is cheap now, even with the current exchange rate..back when it was at 250 Yen/ Dollar...yeesh...400 pages of insanity for a buck and change? GAAHHH.

Wonder how quickly the manga biz would tank in Japan if they were charging parity with US comics? So, a 400 page 'phonebook' magazine would be....what, about 2500 Yen? Maybe closer to 4000 Yen? I think that would be publisher apocalypse, baby...

To take one example, Kodansha's AFTERNOON would jump from costing around the equivalent of US$4.50 to costing US$60.00. Who would stick with it, then? Only a hardcore fan audience...which is basically who supports comics in the U.S. today. Even the average b/w comic book in the U.S. is $2.99...you don't even get a discount for color!

HOWEVER...if you go back and take another look at that comment, I said that I wanted to pursue the question of whether there were subsidies, not that I was certain there was one. And, thinking about it more, I don't believe you necessarily need subsidies to make a manga magazine with Japanese prices in America.

Here's an exercise: a lot of U.S. newspapers these days cost a buck. Stack four of them together, and then imagine them folded in half. Throw in another fifty cents to print a slick cover and binding, and you've got something the heft of a large manga magazine. The price would have to include the costs of producing the content (and manga magazines devote a much smaller space to ads) but yes, I think something more ambitious is possible.

Carl, I agree, much more can be done, but I think the window for that sort of thing is closing fast...

Without a chain like Suncoast to get behind it, I think it'd be a hard go to get it into the mainstream magazine chain, given how crowded THAT is...and comic shops, sadly, are a snake eating its own tail IMHO.

Not to pick a fight, even DH seems to think higher pricepoint is the future, not lower.

And that I blame on old line Cali fandom that joyfully picked up 300 Yen collections at $7.95 at Books Nippan and Kinokunia when the exchange rate was 250 Yen to the Dollar.The markup and margin was SO huge it set unrealistic expectations ever since...

Heck, I still have my Horizon Hobbies 'sell sheet' from Pony Toy...turned out that back in '82 Horizon's wholesale price on a 1/55 scale Takatoku Valkyrie toy was Pony's retail price...letting go of a 250% markup is a hard thing to do :)

(I always think cheaper is better, which flies in the face of everything I read everytime I find an article about manga and the book industry. argh.)

Ask Mark Hamill once whined, "That's not true!" It's correct that a number of Dark Horse manga GNs cost more than the US$9.95 "median," but there is neither a policy nor a push for a higher prices. All these decisions are made on an individual, per-book basis.

Moreover, our upcoming re-release of GUNSMITH CATS, at 400-plus pages per volume @$14.95, will actually be one of the best values on the market, better than the $7.95 SHONEN JUMP GNs for example. Another coup I'm proud of is that the DH version of Katsuya Terada's THE MONKEY KING is actually slightly cheaper than the Japanese original--plus, it looks slightly better; Dark Horse has a Delta Force-like pre-press staff; they were able to bring subtleties* out of the original digital files that were not seen in the Japanese printings.

It's hard to see a reverse in the comic book industry per se, but DH's president Mike Richardson, although he is obviously a tremendous fan of what's been *printed* in comic books over the decades, believes, as do I, that the U.S.'s industry's problem is that they confused comics (a medium) with comic books (one publication format), when there have been other publication formats which have shown success at one time or another—first newspapers, then magazines, and now graphic novels. It's not just that comic books have sales problems; they are also an expensive format in which to print. GNs are the growth area for all of DH's comics, not just the Japanese ones, because they more easily reach the public in the bookstores.

There is a modest optimism for the long-term sales of manga in the U.S. through our demographics. Once it was established that Americans don't mind reading books right-to-left, or even with kana on the page (and this was counterintuitive—you would think fewer, not more people, would enjoy reading them that way), the market expanded greatly. I've often said the most bizarre thing about manga's success here is that it is not made with the American market in mind. Strictly speaking, none of us are intended to read it. On the other hand, we have twice Japan's population and, compared to them, a cosmically diverse demographic mix. None of us are "supposed" to be into it, yet we also have so many different kinds of people who are.

By the way, Patrick, a fellow at work hooked me up with a 1975 copy of Marvel Preview's magazine MAN-GODS FROM BEYOND THE STARS, cashing in on what they call "Däniken-itis!...the von Däniken Phenomenon!" As the editorial reminds us, "Who can say, with absolute certainty, that it did not happen?" Certainly not Leiji** Matsumoto.

—C.

*Genesis 3:1.

**It's funny how I say "Leiji," now even though I grew up saying "Reiji," because I read in an interview that he prefers it with a "L," yet I refuse to say "Herlock" because somehow I know that spelling's completely fucked.

Patrick and Carl!

(I forgot my address book!)

I'm in Durham now with my mate Maria, who says you're lovely, and we're finishing off some wine so forgive any errors. Okay, I'll be in Newcastle tomorrow or at least Saturday, so give me a shopping list on old issues of Viz or something. Carl, there are some new annuals at WH Smith, so I can get those, but neither of you can have my movie Dalek that I picked up for 15 quid.

"Open that door before I lay a stone of dog's eggs in me strides!"

—from "DR. POO (Travelling Through Time and Space Trying to Find Somewhere to Take a Big Shit)"
Voted All-Time "Favourite" Viz Comic

Erm, anything from 32-33, 35-38, 40-44, 48, 50-51, 53-56, 59-82, 85-88, 91, 93, 95, 97-101, 128, 129, 130, 133, 147...in that range, actually. But please don't feel obliged to dig through longboxes like some square-eyed beardy weirdy. And of course, I'll be glad to pay you back for anything that you might find.

GIRLS. Make yourself more attractive simply by moving up North.
—from Viz's Top Tips

Voted All-Time "Favourite" Viz Comic

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