When the manga publisher Tokyopop shut down their book publishing operations last May, they left a number of series unfinished, much to the dismay of fans—especially those who were just one volume away from the end of Alice in the Country of Hearts, Saiyuki Reload, and Deadman Wonderland.
On Friday, Tokyopop CEO Stu Levy stirred up a storm of comments when he went on the Tokyopop Facebook page to ask the readers a question:
if there is a way to bring you Hetalia V. 3 but it's a bit more limited than back in the old days, would you be interested?
The post attracted 993 likes, as of this writing, and over 245 comments, but the comments were a very mixed bag. Many commenters asked Levy to publish new volumes of their favorite series instead, while others said that they would rather have no new Hetalia at all than a limited release that some fans couldn't get. While some readers were clearly thrilled at the idea of getting more Hetalia, several people pointed out that this would simply delay the transfer of the license to another company that would handle it more carefully. (There's a huge expectation that Yen Press would pick it up eventually.) This comment summed up the general tone of what many people were saying:
Go away, and let the licenses lapse so a CEO of a company that cares about publishing can pick them up. Remember when you said Tokyopop's licensed titles will revert back to their original owners, rather than being held by the company's remaining media division until the contracts expire. So stop dangling the carrot unless you will go all the way, because you're just insulting fans.
Levy posted again on Sunday with a few clarifications:
First, "limited" does not mean limited copies - all fans will be able to access the title. "Limited" here means channel (i.e. retail). Second, Hetalia #4 would be published as well. Third, other titles are different rights owners -...
Former Tokyopop freelancer Daniella Orihuela-Gruber said that the production work on vol. 3 of Hetalia was already finished when the company closed its doors.
Aside from printing, distribution, etc., it is paid for. Stu, if he still has the rights to publish it, can publish the heck out of Hetalia vol. 3 if he wants to.
Yen Press director of publishing Kurt Hassler told MTV Geek,
While we have expressed our interest in HETALIA (among other former Tokyopop licenses) to the licensors in Japan and would be very keen to add this title to Yen’s list, we have not had any conversations about partnering on a publication for this property.
Hetalia: Axis Powers was one of Tokyopop's more popular manga, and the first two volumes are still available on comiXology despite Tokyopop's demise. The paper-and-ink version is apparently out of print, with used copies of vol. 1 starting at $20 and vol. 2 starting at $35 on Amazon.
One nice thing about Hetalia is that it's a gag manga, so there isn't a lot of continuity to it—if you haven't read the first two volumes, you can still jump in with volume 3. And it sounds like Levy has judged the reaction to his posts to be positive overall, so readers may get that opportunity in the near future.