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Wondercon 2016: Kodansha Comics: Attack on Titan Anthology

AOTA WelcomeManga publisher Kodansha Comics had both a booth and a panel at Wondercon 2016. This is the first time a manga publisher has attended since the show first moved down to Southern California in 2012. Kodansha Comics was there to promote their new comic Attack on Titan Anthology and to introduce their line of books to a general comics audience.

The panel was moderated by Ben Applegate, the director of publishing services and co-editor on the anthology. He started with an overview of the new fall licenses announced on the social media services Twitter and Tumblr. They will have 12 new titles that include another Fairy Tail spin-off, Twin Dragons of Saber Tooth, the shonen ballroom dancing series Welcome to the Ballroom, and a Japanese anthology for the series Parasyte, titled Neo Parasyte F, just to name a few.

AOTA PanelistsAfter the quick rundown, we got into the meat of the panel. Co-editor Janine Schaefer was introduced along with Jody Houser, a writer who has worked on an Orphan Black tie-in, Valiant’s Faith, and Max Ride for Marvel. When they started looking for contributors for the project, they got a lot of interest. A lot of creators, including several Eisner award winners, were fans of Attack on Titan and wanted to participate.

Michael Avon Oeming will have a story in the book that is based completely on original characters. The Batgirl team, Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr, has a story that takes place at Dragoncon where some Survey Corps cosplays face off against some Titan cosplayers, and one of them turns into an actual Titan! The twin brother team of Tomer and Asaf Hanuka crafted a story that caused much crying in the editor’s office. It was announced at the panel that Evan Dorkin will be doing several gag strips called “Attack of Attack on Titan.” Some of his strips had to be edited for language. It was funny to hear Ben read the strips with his own **Beep** for the swearing. Also announced was artist Phil Jimenez, who will be drawing Gail Simone’s story.

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Michael Avon Oeming

Jody Houser took some time to explain her story. It takes place prior to the manga, before the fall of Wall Marie. It is about how art can inspire people in terrible times. A woman goes to her brother’s place after he has died to destroy some pre-wall artwork that he kept, but she learns that he has been creating more. Some of the stories also look to show a new perspective on the series. Faith Erin Hick’s story is about a person who dedicated their life to bringing more humor into the world.

This series was all possible because the Japanese publisher, Kodansha, is paying more attention to the US and international markets. When Kodansha US presented the anthology idea to the publisher, the heads of the company were enthusiastic about it. Their only issue was making sure the stories didn’t go against the main story. But they were generous with how much the creators were allowwed to play in the universe as well as interact with the main characters.

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Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr

The book will be in full color, containing 16 stories, and will include pin-up art from illustrators such as Kevin Wada. In coming up with criteria for who to be included in the anthology, the editors started by looking at the body of works from creators and made a list based on that. Then they started reaching out.

During audience questions, Applegate was asked how Kodansha Comics decided what comics to license. He explained that they would read the Japanese manga magazines, paying close attention to new titles and “watch” titles. Kodansha Japan will push for their own titles, but with the manga market having gone up 30%, the more conservative publisher is starting to take risks. That is why we now have Princess Jellyfish in English in print. Applegate mentioned something that has become something of a tradition for new editors. After reading several magazines, they will come back with a long list of crazy titles that they love, but will not work for licensing in the US market. There is much commiserating with the older editors.

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Tomer and Asaf Hanuka

When asked if he would do another anthology, Applegate admitted he would prefer working on a new series to doing another anthology. He has learned from experience that creating an anthology can be a logistical nightmare. But still, he enjoyed working on the Attack on Titan Anthology and was glad for the experience. The one question that always seems to come up that they can never answer is when will season two of the Attack on Titan anime come out? He did say that it was the first season of the anime that helped the series take off in the US, but unfortunately, that is not information he is privy to.

I’m really looking forward to the release of this book, which will be out in October. If you are interested in seeing more interior artwork, Comics Alliance has an exclusive preview. There will also be a preview comic available for Free Comic Book Day on May 7. From the titles described so far, it seems the book will have stories that will captivate, engage, enthrall, entertain, and cause the reader to experience all the feels—which is just what a book should do.

Lori Henderson About Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!

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