The ICv2 list of the Ten Most Powerful People in Manga has caused some blog discussion, of course. Since the full explanation behind their choices wasn’t included in the online version of the article, and since I happen to have a copy of the print version, I thought I’d share some key information.
First, bear in mind that the Retailers Guide to Anime/Manga is an ad-supported publication, to the extent that they sell their cover space. However, there is a small disclaimer on the table of contents reading “All interior editorial content is un-sponsored and solely the opinion of the ICv2 editorial staff.” Be that as it may, there’s a fine line to walk in many directions here: keeping advertisers buying full-page ads in a full-color publication, convincing retailers (many of whom in the direct market aren’t interested in manga) that the information is both valuable and unbiased, and so on.
There’s a blurb explaining the selection process in the online article linked above, but here’s the full print version:
Who are the people who have the most influence on the North American manga market? ICv2 asked that question of wide range of industry figures including retailers, distributors, publishers, and industry commentators. We asked our interview subjects to concentrate on the American side of the market, looking for those key figures who had influence not just on their own organizations, but also on the market as a whole. We were looking for the innovators, the trendsetters, the visionairies, and the entrepreneurs who have in the past decade created a market for graphic novels in bookstores where there traditionally had been scant interest in the format whether the works in question were of domestic or foreign origin, and who managed for the first time in over fifty years, to find a way to interest large numbers of teenage female readers in sequential narratives.
Poor punctuation and run-on nature of that last sentence aside, this casts a new light on how the questions may have been phrased to get the answers they arrived at. Looking for “innovators” is somewhat different than simply looking for the most powerful, and I find it interesting that the “industry commentator” group wasn’t mentioned in the online blurb. The article goes on:
Interestingly enough, the independent retailers we interviewed uniformly chose publishers for the top spots on their lists (though not always in the same order), while among publishers there was a near unanimous agreement in the choice of the most powerful person in the American manga market–a gatekeeper at one of the key sales venues.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the interests of publishers and those of retailers do not always agree.
The article goes on with short profiles of each person, and they do mention that the most powerful person (Kurt Hassler, Graphic Novel Buyer, Borders Group) is also a manga creator, writing Sokora Refugees for Tokyopop under the name “Segamu”. (Conflict of interest just doesn’t mean anything any more, does it?)
The two Tokyopop and two Viz executives have pictures. Stuart Levy, Founder, CEO, Chief Creative Officer, Tokyopop, looks like a dweeb, mainly due to a barely-there soul patch and frat-boy eyes.
The Next 10, “more key players in the manga business that just missed making our list”, are as follows:
- Robin Brenner, Young Adult Library Services Association
- Jim Chadwick, Editor in Chief, CMX
- Liza Coppola, Senior VP of Marketing, Viz Media
- Jason DeAngelis, Founder, Seven Seas Entertainment
- Rika Inouye, Senior Director of Licensing, Viz Media
- John Ledford, CEO, ADV Films (with the blurb “Although ADV’s launch of its manga line involved thrusting too many titles into a crowded market, the company still controls a number of great licenses and remains a player.” Which reads to me as wishful thinking)
- Kuo-Yu Liang, VP Sales & Marketing, Diamond Book Distributors
- Michael Martens, VP Special Markets, Dark Horse
- Charles Solomon, Journalist (“the leading commentator on manga (and anime) in the mainstream media”)
- David Wise, Editor in Chief, Go Comi
With those additions, is there a major manga company that isn’t included? CPM and DrMaster, I guess, if they qualify.
David Welsh has comments and asks when we’re going to see shôjo anime.
Update: MangaBlog adds their top ten list of important voices in the manga blogverse.