I’ve read much of the commentary about the controversial contract involved with Tokyopop’s online talent search, Manga Pilots, with some interest. Respected industry talents have been vocal with their outrage over the publisher’s subjugation of creator rights and its use of insulting language in its contract language. Some calmer heads have joined the debate this week as it continued. The discussion has spotlighted creator rights and the business of comics publishing, and regardless of what side one takes, you have to admit that it’s opened a lot of people’s eyes about what goes on behind the scenes in comics, what new talent has to contend with and what publishers’ priorities really are.
Personally, I don’t read many Tokyopop titles, so while I’ve watched the turmoil with some interest, I’ve also had some distance from it, at least on an emotional level. There’s really only one thing I care about when it comes to Tokyopop and its tribulations:
How will this affect Brandon Graham’s King City Vol. 2, if at all?
Graham’s surreal amalgam of sci-fi and hip, urban crime drama elements and incorporation of European, American and Asian influences in the artwork made King City Vol. 1 my favorite graphic novel of 2007. So full of imagination, charm and originality, King City Vol. 1 rightfully earned accolades across the board; I don’t think I read a single negative review or comment about it.
Fortunately, over on his livejournal blog this past week, Graham indicates things are proceeding well as he works on the new book.
“I’ve gone back up to Canada to get this King city too done. 3 months to go … So it’s been all drawing all day. I’ve been running my hands under the tap lots so they don’t cramp up. It seems to work … It’s been a good week A 5 pages in 5 days week. I’m having a blast working on this alien brothel scene in King City 2oo [sic]. I was going to put it up here but I figured I’d save something for the book.”
He posts a page of art from the second volume, as well as some cover roughs (pictured at right) that he doubts will represent the final cover. Graham also indicates he’s had some creative differences with Tokyopop, but it doesn’t sound like anything serious:
“I doubt that TP is gonna let me do the giant 2. I want this book to be it’s own animal and not just another issue of a series.”
It sounds that all is well in King City for now. Whew!
Shifting gears now, I was reading a much more conventional comic book this week: Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man #122, by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen. To my surprise, I found a sequence that got to the heart of the Manga Pilots controversy and the vehement opposition to the language of Tokyopop’s contract. Here, I’ll let the “Ultimate” Shocker explain…