Manga News for January 4: Yaoi-Con Takes a Break, Manga Creator Threatened

This is usually a slow news time, but the past few weeks have brought a flurry of manga news stories, including the death of “Barefoot Gen” creator Keiji Nakazawa, a change in the Yaoi-Con schedule, and word of a disturbing series of threats against the creator of “Kuroko’s Basketball” in Japan. Read on!

Yaoi-Con To Skip a Year

Last year, Digital Manga took over as the organizers of Yaoi-Con, and this year they will take a break. In a message on the publisher’s blog, Digital president Hikaru Sasahara said that the event will return in the spring of 2014. “We’ve identified many aspects we would like to update and improve, and doing so will require more than a year’s worth of preparation,” he said, but he assured fans that popular events such as the Bishounen Auction will continue.

“Barefoot Gen” Creator Dies

Keiji Nakazawa, the creator of “Barefoot Gen,” died of lung cancer on December 19 at the age of 73. Nakazawa was six years old and living in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped there; he and his mother survived, but most of the rest of his family perished when their house collapsed. Facing prejudice against victims of the bombing after the war, Nakazawa stayed quiet about his experiences, but after his mother’s death he began writing about it. His work culminated in the ten-volume “Barefoot Gen,” which was one of the first manga ever translated into English—a group of volunteers were so moved by the story that they formed a translation group, Project Gen, in 1976. Matt Thorn wrote an appreciation of Nakazawa’s life and work at The Comics Journal.

“Nijigahara Holograph” Licensed

Here’s some good news for fans of Inio Asano (creator of “solanin” and “What a Wonderful World”): Fantagraphics, the American publisher that is releasing a string of classic manga (“Heart of Thomas,” “A Drunken Dream”) announced on New Year’s Day that they will publish Asano’s horror manga, “Nijigahara Holograph,” which mixes odd images of butterflies and rainbows into a story of a town threatened by dark forces. Fantagraphics will publish the story complete in a single, 200-page volume. If this piques your curiosity, check out Shaenon Garrity’s recent column on the works of Inio Asano,

“Kuroko’s Basketball Threats

A very bizarre thing is happening in Japan right now: A stalker is threatening not only the creator of the sports manga “Kuroko’s Basketball,” but also anybody who has anything to do with it. This had a huge impact on last week’s Winter Comics Market (Comiket), the big doujinshi (fan comics) event: After the organizers received a threat letter, they contemplated canceling Comiket altogether but decided instead to ask the 900 doujinshi circles who were planning to attend to stay away. As a result, a big part of the Tokyo Big Sight exhibit hall was left empty. Three threatening letters were found in the area after the second day of Comiket, but officials believe they are the work of copycats and the event continued on the third day, albeit with heightened security.

The real letters are no joke, however: Over 50 locations linked to Kuroko’s Basketball have received threatening letters, some containing chemicals, and the police determined that one letter sent to Sophia University contained a liquid that could have vaporized into a lethal gas.

The letters appear to be the work of a disturbed individual who has a grudge against the creator of “Kuroko’s Basketball,” Tadatoshi Fujimaki, and they have led to the cancellation or early closure of a number of events involving the manga.

Censorship Fail

Manga fans value authenticity, but publishers value sales, and most manga censorship happens in the publishers’ offices, as Jason Thompson explains in this week’s House of 1000 Manga column at Anime News Network. Jason, a former manga editor himself, talks about how those decisions are made (often arbitrarily) and counts down the greatest manga censorship fails of all time.

Quick Links

Noah Berlatsky writes about Moto Hagio’s “Heart of Thomas” for the Atlantic magazine.
Anime News Network has a first look at the art for Yoshitaka Amano’s novel “Deva Zan.”
Robot 6 has a preview of Shigeru Mizuki’s “Kitaro.”
This month’s Manga Moveable Feast, a blogger carnival that focuses on a particular creator or work, is devoted to manga-ka Moyoco Anno and is being hosted by Ash Brown at Experiments in Manga. Here’s the Call for Submissions.

Related Posts:
New Manga for the Week of January 2: Heart of Thomas, Message to Adolf
MTV Geek’s Best Of 2012 Round-Up

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