Speculation has been swirling this week over what’s going on with manga publisher Go! Comi. Signs aren’t good, with their online presence now gone.
Go! Comi launched in 2005 with four titles: Cantarella, Her Majesty’s Dog, Tenshi Ja Nai!!, and Crossroad. (All of which are still available from Amazon.) They went on to publish a variety of series, of which the only one I read was Japan Ai (published in 2007, now out of print). Their last big project was Wendy Pini’s Masque of the Red Death, launched as a webcomic in summer 2007 with print volumes following in fall 2008.
Word of Go! Comi’s troubles first broke on Twitter on April 29, when Sonicbug tweeted “An AoD reader has pointed out that GoComi’s forums are down. Someone want to save GoComi? Please?” Kate Dacey picked up the news and found that their website had had no updates since September 2009, which is about when they last released anything.
Now, the entire website has joined the forums, no longer available online. Visiting their URL shows a parked page that says “This domain name expired on 5/8/2010 and is pending renewal or deletion.” Gia Manry (link no longer available) did additional research and found that Google showed, in reference to the company, “this place is permanently closed.”
Audry Taylor, who at one point was credited as Go! Comi’s Creative Director (and sometimes a co-founder), has a Twitter account, where she posted “Since the Go! Comi site is shutting down, I’m putting up a tag on my Goodreads acct to list all the manga I worked on.” You can see that list here. She later said “I’m not working there anymore.”
There were signs of trouble earlier this year. In late January, Gia pointed to the company putting up a forum post (no longer available) in which they
apologize for the delays and explain that they can’t really promise specific release dates for any of the delayed titles because publishing is so unpredictable that “what is on hold today might literally go into production tomorrow.” The company also posits that they may have to shut down their website in order to keep costs down and keep books coming– regular users will be given advance warning if this has to happen.
This caused some confusion, since website costs are pretty minimal in comparison to other publication expenses. And yet, that’s what happened, except for the advance warning part. A Honolulu Star-Bulletin article from early February, based on the same forum post, says the company
isn’t dead — at least, not yet. … Go! Comi’s silence was broken Jan. 22 when a forum administrator posted an explanation of what was going on at the company. The economic downturn and “digital theft” — in essence “scanlations,” manga that’s either fan-translated from the original Japanese or copied outright from the U.S.-published books and uploaded to the Internet — were cited as reasons for the publishing slowdown.
The article goes on to speculate on why they were struggling and suggest one small avenue for hope.
The problem might be in raising awareness of books with a wider audience. “If it is available on our store, it is available in regular stores,” the administrator wrote. Scanning the list of Go! Comi’s 32 active series, though, your friendly neighborhood columnist found several series he had never even heard of. “Bogle”? “Days of Cool Idols”? “Yggdrasil”? You have me there. …
It’s just that they’re not books casual readers would know about or be able to find on a trip to a bookstore, for that matter. Perhaps now that manga fans know about the plight of Go! Comi, they’ll turn out in greater numbers to support the publisher. What is clear is that trying times are ahead, and whether Go! Comi can finish the series it has in progress is not certain.
Unless someone makes an official statement quickly, I suspect that we won’t be hearing anything more from Go! Comi, as readers move on to titles with a more certain future.