BOOKGASM: How have the Osamu Tezuka reprints done for Vertical? I’m especially curious about the ongoing BLACK JACK series. While it would seem such a project would attract a loyal fan base, I’m assuming the law of diminishing returns comes into play?Sounds like Tezuka manga is making a big impact! I'm a little late to the party but, with thanks to Ani-Gamers, I have recently gone through Ode to Kirihito and it was an incredible, killer read!
CHAVEZ: Since Vertical’s launch, Tezuka’s comics have been one of the main pillars of our success as a company. Tezuka’s sales easily make up a full third of our overall sales, and when you consider how we had an 18-percent increase in revenue last year, those sales were very significant.
BLACK JACK has been a fascinating case in the manga world. You are right about diminishing returns. Those laws affect every title, but BLACK JACK has now twice bucked that trend over the last 12 months. Last summer, BLACK JACK, already six volumes into its run, began to gain readers, with orders surpassing the two previous volumes. We are seeing the same trend for VOLUME 10, where orders are as high as they were around this time last year.
There is no doubt Tezuka created a masterpiece in BLACK JACK, and the content itself is what is really bringing in new readers, but there is one point that I think people overlook that might also be in play here: BLACK JACK being a collection of shorts can allow for sampling at any point in the series. It does not need the same level of commitment as other titles with the same length, nor does it seem as daunting to come into the series midway. BLACK JACK by design can cure readers of almost any manga anxiety.
BOOKGASM: Are you considering bringing other Tezuka works to these shores? I, for one, would love the opportunity to see his VAMPIRES.
CHAVEZ: We are always considering more Tezuka. This fall, we will release a new omnibus, this time collecting Dr. Tezuka’s post-WWII drama, AYAKO. The title will be translated by Mari Morimoto, the woman responsible for adapting some of manga’s biggest names — INUYASHA, NARUTO, DRAGONBALL and NEON GENESIS EVANGELIION — into English. Peter Mendelsund will once again take the design reigns.
I would like to take on another Tezuka title once BLACK JACK wraps up next summer. We haven’t decided which way to go, but we already have a short list ready.
For even more on Vertical's Tezuka releases, Ed Chavez participated on the ANNCast at Anime News Network last month.