The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posted by Matt on May 31, 2010

This is from a few weeks back, but a look at a really big manga magazine. It’s over 1000 pages! And it costs around $5! Whatta deal! It’s the kind of format I think works really well for comics.

I know there has to be something behind the curtains that makes something like this possible. Maybe the creators are paid less. In the comments, readers point out how these magazines are printed on really cheap paper, sometimes detracting from the quality of the art, and that only a few of these magazines can actually succeed, and usually on the strength of one or two series that have crossover appeal (Fullmetal Alchemist being the example from the magazine in the post), and they usually have to be sold at a loss until those series take off. There’s also a difference in culture – most comic readers in North America are used to full-color, professional-looking product, whereas black and white comics magazines have been the most popular format in Japan (and Europe, as well) for over 50 years. There are many extra things to consider before calling this thing obviously perfect in every way.

Even so…whatta deal!


One Response to “”

  1. Windows XP said

    I remember reading about how anthologies work, there’s a page rate, which I forgot, but new authors get paid less than veterans. Manuscript fees are paid by revenues collected from magazines sales. Authors get royalties, about 8 to 10 percent if I remember correctly, from collected volumes, that’s when they earn substantial money.

    The original art is drawn on a paper that’s the same size as the bigger anthologies.
    So the art in collected volumes is actually several times smaller than the real deal.

    As for ads, most Japanese anthologies actually contain very little ads, most of the pages are used up by comics! That’s because the anthologies themselves often don’t make much money.

    And there’s cheaper than Gangan, Weekly Shounen Jump is 240 yen, that’s about 2.5$, give or take, for about 460 pages. WSJ’s two traditional rivals in terms of sales, Weekly Shounen Magazine and Weekly Shounen Sunday are both 260 yen, and have about as many pages.

    I don’t think there’s a 1000 pages weekly anthology, but Gangan is not the only 1000 pages monthly. There’s also bimonthlies with that page run.

    As for why and how Japanese publishers manage to do this, according to what I’ve read, anthologies actually don’t make much money, apparently, Weekly Shounen Jump is one of the few anthologies that make any profits, and all others are in the red!

    All the mainstream anthologies, whether they’re weekly, twice a month, monthly, or bimonthly, are at least 450 pages, some are 1000+ pages, and have, I’d say, price points of about 2 to 6$.
    The ones aimed at younger readers usually sell better, so they usually are priced lower, especially weekly ones, whose prices are the lowest so that buying them is not too much a burden to the readers, who can be very young. Like I said, they actually usually don’t include that much ads compared to Western magazines.

    However, like I wrote earlier, even in Japan, printing a 1000 pages monthly with very few ads is apparently not profitable.

    Then how do publishers actually make money?

    They actually make money off collected volumes.

    Anthologies are advertising campaigns for collected volumes. As long as the publisher sells enough collected volumes in the long run, the magazine is considered successful, and can get in the black or green.

    It’s kind of gambling, but with potentially high profits.

    Also, Japanese anthologies usually include at least 12 to 20 different serials per issue, so there’s a sizeable selection for readers, which is important, because publishers know that many people will rather read anthologies standing without buying them (very common in Japan) if there’s only 1 or 2 serial they’re interested in. Gangan, which is on the big side, has about 30 serials per issue.

    To use an analogy, anthologies are like network or cable TV.

    Let’s say Company A produces a TV series but is forced to released it on DVD, without being able to find a network that will air it, while Company B does the same thing, but has sold their series to a TV station. In all probability, Company B’s series will sell more DVD because more people 1) have seen it 2) know it even exists.

    The logic behing anthologies is the same. You can promote 12 to 20 different titles at the same time, and reach audiences that can number hundred of thousands or millions of readers for the most popular anthology.

    The next step is to have one or two heavily promoted flagship titles, which might even get TV anime or live action adaptations, rising their profiles even more. If the series aren’t finished, new readers who can’t wait until the next collected volumes are released, will join the magazine readership, and will probably at least try to read other series in the magazine, to get their money’s worth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: