There was lots of digital news at San Diego Comic-Con 2011 this past weekend, as Yen Press announced three new licenses and an iPhone app and a group of Japanese publishers revealed initial details of JManga, a website that will bring manga straight from Japan to U.S. readers.
Yen Press publishing director Kurt Hassler opened the Yen Press panel by saying that Yen has no new light novels licenses to announce, although they have a few in the works. He did have three new manga licenses, however: Durara!! and Kore wa Zombie desu ka?, both of which are based on light novels (Funimation recently picked up the license to the anime for Kore wa Zombie desu ka?); and Olimpos, a two-volume manga based on Greek mythology that Yen will publish as a single-volume omnibus edition. Yen announced another project just before Comic-Con: A graphic novel adaptation of Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire.
The other big news at the panel was the announcement of an iPhone/iPod Touch version of the Yen Press app. Yen has also added quite a few titles to the app, and to introduce the app, they are discounting all volume 1s to $2.99 through August 21. In the question-and-answer session of the panel, they revealed that an Android version is in the works as well.
A new manga website was unveiled at the JManga panel, although it won't go live until next month. Backed by a group of 39 Japanese publishers, JManga.com will carry a variety of manga, from the famous to the obscure, as well as original content such as wallpapers and interviews with creators. The site will even allow readers to text questions to manga creators. Some manga will be presented in both English and Japanese, allowing the reader to switch back and forth between the two. While the presenters did not give specific titles at the panel, the image above (which was projected on the screen above the panelists) gives a few clues; in addition, they said in response to a question that they would be willing to pick up series that have been dropped by U.S. licensors.
The heroes of Bakuman discover the storyboard
Hisashi Sasaki, editor of the Japanese Shonen Jump, was a special guest at the Shonen Jump panel. Sasaki apologized for not looking like his character in Bakuman, and he critiqued several entries in Viz's storyboard contest. Other panels included a panel on manga censorship, a critics' roundtable on the Best and Worst Manga, a spotlight panel with Domo-kun creator Tsuneo Goda, and a presentation by several scholars of their manga research.
For more on manga at San Diego Comic-Con, see my roundup of earlier announcements.