Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Twilight" To Be Adapted To Manga: My Thoughts

This is just a reaction to the news that the rights-holders of the mega-hit "Twilight" chose the manga format to be its first comic book adaptation.

First, I'm not surprised AT ALL.

But really, is the mainstream comic book "floppy" format just not an option for the majority of comic book reading young women (and some young men) anymore? To the point that if you have some hot non-superhero property for teens you don't even consider putting it out as a floppy?

I'm just saying, because I know there have been many attempts to bring in the teen girl market in "floppy comics" form. Is it the format itself that turns them off? Does the idea of going in the local comic shop to purchase them turn them off?

And then what about the case of something like "Buffy The Vampire Slayer?" If Dark Horse had adapted "Twilight" in a similar format, would that have worked? Or are a good portion of those BTVS readers already familiar with the mainstream comics format, etc, while many of these "Twilight" readers may not be?

As a tangent, I have to reiterate my belief that "floppies" are the best format for little kids, especially if the price-point is moderate. I know some feel that digests are the best format, but I think little kids want nice big pictures and a format they can completely lay out flat on their table, floor, etc. (or roll up in a tube or tear up or cut up or whatever).

That all said, the current "Twilight" adaptation doesn't preclude a company like Dark Horse or Marvel or DC adapting it in the future. Or coming up with somethin' similar. Like, perhaps, "Schmilight."


  1. FIRST!

    Okay, that's enough of that. My guess why a manga is being adapted and not a floppy is all about money.

    As an artist who has done the self publishing thing, it's a lot cheaper to print one graphic novel in black and white than to print a series of monthly floppies (in color, no less). One print run as opposed to between 4-6 floppies for a series is a lot cheaper to produce. Plus, you get the added bonus that teenage girls are a lot more likely to frequent their local Barnes and Noble or Books a Million than your average comic book store because they're a lot more likely to be in malls (as a former teenage girl, I can attest to this).

    The bottom line here is, well, the bottom line. The publisher wants the safest, most profitable investment possible and, to reach teenage girls, a Twilight manga is a license to print money.

    Sorry, Val. But I don't see teenage girls getting into comic book shops any time soon, if ever. They require teenage girls to do one thing they are hardly known for doing: independent thinking.

  2. wow - they're much more attractive as manga characters. :)

  3. As a middle school teacher, I know that the manga/trade paperback form of this book will be in our school's media center as soon as it is available, where it is far more likely to make it into the hands of the target audience than it would be in floppy form. My students are barely aware that floppy comics still exist, let alone stores that sell them.

  4. Maybe Buffy is on the cusp between the 2. Wheedon seems to be more of a traditional comics kind of "current knowledge" kinda guy. The intuitive decision is to go with floppies.

    Twilight, the current/target knowledge gap is too large for floppies, but manga makes sense.

    (I was at a Web usability lecture last night, so I'm hitting all nails with the intuitivity hammer right now :)

    BTW, What do you think of the Wednesday Comics thing from DC.

    My son (8) loves reading the Kamandi story. We both like the big format.

    Its interetsing how much gets done by narrartion in the big format. Its all reading like Price Valiant (Wonder Woman excepted, which looks too muddy and busy to draw me in).

  5. Anonymous11:51 AM

    Maybe the standard monthly comic gets no respect because even it's supporters have taken to calling them "floppies"?

    And while Twilight is being made into a comic because it is a successful book, the comic it is being made into is because girls buy Manga. And Manga isn't a regular periodical in magazine form, but only exists as shelf-ready trade paperbacks.

    (And yes, I am being ironic. To give some credit to the American Public and Marketing, "Buffy" does come from a serialized medium - TV - while "Twilight" started in book form. Rather than blindly following the "Girls buy Manga" market, they could be playing to a perceived strength.)

    David Oakes

  6. Floppies are available via four distribution points:
    * comicbook shops (rarely frequented by children and most teens)
    * newsstands (if they carry comics, it is of a limited variety; not worth the trouble)
    * subscriptions (not accessible to children or teens, as they do not own a credit card or checking account)
    * libraries (rare)

    Floppies are a great format for kids, but it's hard to get the format in the kids' hands.

    Digests are the next best thing:
    * small price point ($9.99/96p. - $15.99/ 120p. full color) (Manga are popular because the $9.99 price point is affordable to kids and teens. And parents will see the value of a paperback priced at $9.99.)
    * more attractive to libraries (book vs. periodical, sturdy, easier to acquire, reviewed in library journals)

    Marvel publishes kids' comics with the expectation that everything will be collected and resold as a digest. They actively market to kids. ( DC and BOOM! work the same way.

    Yen, on the other hand, follows the manga model of distribution. I would not be surprised to see "Twilight" featured in their magazine.

    Could Hachette/Meyer license this as a regular four-color comic? Sure. Star Trek and Wolverine are two examples of properties which have appeared simultaneously from different comics publishers.

    I believe that while floppies are still an important segment of comics publishing, they merely serve as a way to pay the cost of production and publicize the future release of a trade collection. DC took their $1 After Watchmen promo and adapted it to their new Vertigo titles. Some may read the regular series, but many will read the $1 #1 and then wait for the trade, just as the DC #1s serve as a gateway to the trade collections.

    It's all about the trades. Because I didn't discover Pogo in the newspaper (long gone by 1979) but in a dog-eared paperback collection from 1952.

  7. Based upon what I have seen, you are right about the formats.

    Monthly floppies are great for kids. They open them and look at the pictures long before they can read. It is also a horrible format for telling more complex stories, because 20+ pages just is not a lot of real estate for character development.

    So, publishing a property like "Twilight" in manga format seems like a very smart idea. "Buffy" is more gender neutral than female oriented. A manga formatted might have been an interesting experiment, but I am not how many potential readers got lost to the format.

  8. I used to work on the Disney & Fox Kids books at Valiant/Acclaim, and while they were packaged in attractive "digest" editions, it really didn't catch on. Perhaps if we had distribution in supermarkets, drug stores, etc. But I feel had we put them out as "floppies," they might have been more successful.

    I think Disney/WB cartoon titles should always be in print as reasonably-priced comics you can get in the shops or newsstand. Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, the newer properties, Scooby Doo, everything.

  9. I own a few of the Disney Acclaim titles. At that time, Acclaim was ahead of the market. Superhero graphic novels (and there wasn't much else in bookstores) were shelved in Humor or in Science Fiction. The only other kids GN title I remember from that time was "Confessions of a Teenage Vampire" from Scholastic.

    Johnny DC is priced at $2.50. Marvel Adventures, $2.99. BOOM! Kids, $2.99. Archie, $2.50. All are available in some selection at Barnes & Noble stores.


    And good for them.

  11. I think Stephenie Meyer wasn't too satisfied with that artwork; she had some edits made. lulz

    Love your style btw.

  12. Hey, I'm not a teen girl and I'm a long long longtime comic fan, and I'm turned off by floppies.

    I simply want a whole story arc in anything I buy - 10-30 pages just doesn't cut it for me, at all.

    That being said, I haven't really gotten into any manga in years either.

  13. Anonymous4:41 AM

    Is it wrong of me to have had the initial reaction of "lol Mormons are trying to connect with today's youth lol"?

  14. Val:

    1) Buffy comics were never a straight up adaptation, but additional "untold" stories / continuation from the tv series.

    2) Joss Whedon and other members of this TV writer staff for the show write the damn comics. I doubt Stephanie Meyer will be writing any new material for the manga.

    3) Dark Horse was smart enough to stick photocovers all over the books for years. Nevermind that you could get said photos free all over the internet, "It's a piccy of SMG! On a Comic! *Squealing fans*"

    So, unless they were going to do that with the cast of TWILIGHT (certainly plausible) there's really no point to doing floppies.


    "Buffy is more gender neutral than female oriented."

    Uh huh. Riiiight. So all of your favorite shows emasculate the men or turn them evil?

    Xander has incurable "I love monster-girl"itis, is wussified constantly, and the only way he can "prove himself" as a man is to lose an eye.

    Giles is the wussified teacher who's only sexual partners are another teacher (who is conveniently murdered) and a one-time thing with Buffy's mother while under a spell.

    Angel can't have meaningful sex without becoming evil.

    Oz is too afraid of his werewolf side and runs away, and Willow's reaction to that is to turn lesbian. (Which is henceforth to be celebrated as the only "healthy" relationship on the show. I'm sorry, but that was a bunch of crap. And of course in Season 8 comic Buffy expeirments with a lesbian 'ship with a younger Slayer who worships her - yeah, THAT's healthy...)

    Spike gets emasculated by having a chip implant in his head that makes him unable to commit violence against humans. This of course make him "safe" for Buffy to have sex with- until it burns out and he rapes her in the bathroom. (Nevermind that you just don't have sex with someone who's tried to kill you numerous times in the past. Stupid ho.)

    Faith uses sex domination as part of her torture on men. So does Darla.

    The only "normal guy" sex Buffy ever has is with a guy who uses her for a one night stand and dumps her (College, season 4). Riley Finn isn't normal (remember he's injected with monster steroids or whatever the hell) plus he's one of the most secretive and dishonest people in the show (another form of man bashing).

    So how, pray tell was this show "neutral gendered"? It may have appealed to both genders, but it sure as hell wasn't written neutrally. It was and is one of the most 'man-hater' shows I've ever seen.


    "I simply want a whole story arc in anything I buy - 10-30 pages just doesn't cut it for me, at all."

    So I presume you own no comics dating prior to say, 1983? Because many comics were self-contained stories back then, and they sure as hell satisfied me far more than the overwrought "story arcs" of today.

    The bottom line is of course you want the WHOLE story for your one time purchase. I get that. But why should the page count matter?

    Answer: It shouldn't.

  15. @Louis Bright-Davis

    "So I presume you own no comics dating prior to say, 1983? Because many comics were self-contained stories back then, and they sure as hell satisfied me far more than the overwrought "story arcs" of today."

    Considering that a big chunk of comic fans are in their 20's, yeah it's entirely possible he doesn't have any books before 1983. I was born in 1983 and I can count on one hand how many floppies I have from before then.

    I think the only ones are a reprint of Spiderman when the Punisher first appears and a copy of "Career Girl Romances" I bought to be ironic. Ah, 1970's vintage...

  16. OK, some of these have been mentioned, but let me summarize:

    1. Teen girls read Twilight. Teen girls don't go to comics shops for two reasons: 1. They don't know they exist; 2. They are not made welcome there. I brought my daughter to a comics shop once and she has refused to ever go again; it wasn't anything anyone said to her, just the nature of the art and figurines that were on display.

    2. Twilight is a long story and is more satisfying told in bigger chunks. $2.99 is not cheap if you only get a few pages; in terms of pages per dollar, manga is usually a better buy.

    3. This trumps them all: Twilight is owned by Hachette. Yen Press, which is publishing the Twilight manga, is owned by Hachette. Yen does graphic novels exclusively.

    Teen girls mostly read manga and graphic novels, so this seems like a natural fit. Really, a floppy version seems kind of odd to me.

  17. And Jules, as the mother of two teenage girls, I can assure you that independent thinking is not in short supply in my house. Quite the contrary! Their adamant refusal to re-enter that comics shop is evidence of that, actually.

  18. Jules:

    "Considering that a big chunk of comic fans are in their 20's, yeah it's entirely possible he doesn't have any books before
    1983. I was born in 1983 and I can count on one hand how many floppies I have from before then."

    Okay, and I was born in 1972 and I have comics going back to 1953 in my collection (and I didn't really start *collecting* until the 1990s). So all your comment suggests is that your generation doesn't care about anything published before they were born?

    Well, that would certainly explain why certain writers today get away with rewriting / recycling content previously published, then.

  19. @Brigid: You are fighting the good fight. I went to school with too many girls who had a pack mentality.

    @Louis Bright-Raven

    First, sorry for messing up your name last time. Don't know what happened there.

    "Okay, and I was born in 1972 and I have comics going back to 1953 in my collection (and I didn't really start *collecting* until the 1990s). So all your comment suggests is that your generation doesn't care about anything published before they were born?"

    It's not that we don't care, it's just that the more recent stuff is mostly what's getting pushed our way. I'm not trying to knock the more intense collectors out there, but I'm saying that there are more casual fans who simply don't work that hard to find material. They're either too busy or too lazy to do it. I fall under the former.

  20. I was born in the 80s, and I don't have any floppies from before I was born. I don't think it shows lack of interest-I have trade paperbacks/essential whatever collections of comics from before I was born.

    It's just that dealing with old comics makes all the problems of floppies worse (expensive, hard to find, fussy storage requirements).