Will Tokyopop Return? We’ll Find Out Next Year

Tokyopop logo

This summer, news went around that former manga publisher Tokyopop, which stopped printing books in the US in 2011, was returning. Again. For the third time.

Tokyopop had a panel at this year’s Anime Expo where they announced that they are “planning to begin publishing manga again in 2016” by “seeking to license ‘hidden gems that are not yet noticed’ from small or independent publishers.” That may be because big publishers no longer want to get involved with a company so well-known for dodgy business practices and big plans that don’t necessarily pan out.

Stu Levy of Tokyopop

More of those big plans include

  • publishing art books and collectors editions
  • considering light novels
  • film and TV production (founder Stu Levy’s new baby after he bailed on manga)
  • plans for a “Pop Comics” app

That app will let users upload their own comics, with plans to let “users keep the copyright and 100% creative control of their uploaded works.” Revenue will come from ads, which sounds like a last-generation internet idea; advertising revenue is down significantly these days.

Not taking partial copyright is a change from what got Tokyopop such bad press during their earlier incarnations. Nowadays, any time anything is announced about them, people point out why it might be a bad idea to support them and an even worse idea to publish with them. There’s a widespread perception that Levy took advantage of young creators by paying them minimally and refusing to return copyrights when the company went under, a stance he’s sticking to. From the other side, customers don’t trust the company not to bail again, leaving series unfinished, so building up sales might be tricky.

The Tokyopop Manga Twitter hasn’t updated since their San Diego Con panel this year in July. Maybe they’re deep in planning for these new efforts. Or maybe this is yet another case of “believe it when you see it, and don’t trust any plans until then.”



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