Monday, December 15, 2003

Tokyopop continues its invasion... 

With Dirk's foray into law, it isn't surprising that a tiny article in ICv2 about Tokyopop continuing agressive promotion could get lost in the shuffle. But it has some pretty interesting information.

Aparantly not satisfied with bookstores, they seem to be pushing hard into other mass retail stores. They did a 100-store Walmart test a while back, and Fred Meyer and Shopko are also doing tests. Best Buy is aparantly going to carry some manga near to the anime DVDs, and perhaps most interesting to me, the Stop and Shop supermarket is aparantly stocking manga volumes! I never thought to look at Stop and Shop for manga, but I guess I'll have to check around locally to see if any of the ones near me have them in stock. There is also a mention of Sam Goody record stores having some large display racks.

This is all starting to be a majorly potent force. There is anime on TV. People go to Best Buy to get DVDs and see all the anime, start with stuff they're familiar with and branch out to other titles. Now they see manga volumes there, as well as Media Play. They see Jump at newstands and read that along with seeing ads for anime and graphic novels in bookstores. They buy NewType USA also at newstands with those same ads to go to Best Buy and Media Play for anime and bookstores for manga as well as fluffy reviews of content.

It is quickly becoming a very connected web of promotion and as these companies get richer the promotions seem to just be getting stronger. With content prominantly on TV, at bookstores, media outlets, newstands, music shops and even supermarkets it is becoming easier and easier to stumble on this stuff even if you aren't looking for it. And that's ignoring video games and collectable card games.

In comparison, the US industry just seems that much less well organized. I suppose one thing to thing to the advantage of the asian properties is that often times different companies license different parts of the same property. Different companies may be doing manga versus anime versus card games versus video games. That kind of forces them all to work together to promote it. In comparison, DC and Marvel control their characters and properties and don't have as much of a reason to work together and those companies versus Oni Press versus Fantagraphics all seem so different from each other to almost seem part of different industries.

I think it is also easier to do big pushes because of having new properties all the time. So much of the superhero stuff is revamping of old characters that it often appeals to older fans of the character, but still may not seem like something really "new". YuYu Hakusho comes out and there is a cartoon on TV. It starts getting released on DVD. It gets put out in Jump as well as digests. There is a CCG, etc. There is a multilevel push. In comparison, a lot of the best-selling US comics are stuff like Batman. There might be a new run with a different creative team to get people excited, but the Batman cartoon and movies are mostly in the past now. It isn't like new story arcs of Batman are being animated... The new movies coming out do help with visibility, but still they tend to be adaptations of older material and not as part of a push for an entirely new title.

I don't know.. I guess I'm rambling. I don't want to sound like I'm too pro-marketing, because often times that is fairly destructive, but it seems like even the mainstream hyped up pop titles don't usually live up to modern marketing standards. Stuff like the Hulk promotions seemed very inconsistant and not as well thought out as it could have been. The movie was mostly adult in tone, but a lot of the promotion was of toys for little kids like the Hulk Hands. At the time, I saw a lot of Hulk GNs in bookstores, but I'm sure those ran the gambit of adult and kids fare with various artists and writers and arcs and a lot of people weren't sure what to start with. After that, most of the Hulk stuff faded away and in the end I doubt that many people actually started to read the monthly Hulk comics.

I suppose that in the end they were probably relatively happy with the result, selling a lot of toys and getting the Hulk name onto TV, but I'm not really satisfied with that. They probably would have sold about as many Hulk Hands if they'd just run commercials for those without the movie, as it seems like a fun concept, and most people viewing the movie probably found it to be an interesting sci-fi Jekyl/Hyde movie, but not something to rush them out to see more.

I have some hope for Hellboy as that is based on a series not that many people know of and is a title relatively self-contained and creator-driven, but its comics roots show more easily than in something like Road To Perdition, where most don't even know it came from a comic. Hopefully DH will take advantage of the situation to get a good buzz going and maybe get some of it into bookstores or promote comic shops in some concerted way.

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