Industry Innovator: GO!! Viz Media Conquers the World!
Viz Media LLC, the preeminent Japanese comics company in the U.S. market, has found a digital solution to a vexing problem. Jointly owned by a consortium of three Japanese media companies—Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd.—San Francisco-based Viz sought a workflow and distribution solution to the challenge of jointly publishing comics and graphic novels simultaneously the U.S. and Japan. We contacted Kevin Hamric, director of sales and marketing at Viz Media, to discover how this was achieved, what the differences are between publishing markets in the U.S. and Japan, and why manga (Japanese comics) and anime (Japanese cartoons) are poised to break out in new markets and demographics on this side of the Pacific.
What are the main challenges with releasing Viz Media products simultaneously in the U.S. and Japan?
There is a tremendous amount of preparation that must happen in order for us to release the newest digital manga volume for a series like Shonen Jump's Barrage on the same day as its Japanese print counterpart. The main challenge is getting all of the assets from the Japanese licensors in a timely manner in order to have them translated and cover treatments completed, then having them all approved by Japan to meet often tight deadlines.
Does translation delay your production significantly or is it built into the process? If so, how?
The localization process is always built into the overall schedule for every North American release, as we always need to account for the time necessary to translate, letter and edit the manga, as well as create and finalize covers, then get all of this work approved by our licensors. But we have some of the best translators in the business and this process happens very smoothly. The fact that the entire production process is largely digital (done on the computer) also eliminates time/distance barriers between Japan and the U.S. and speeds the overall workflow.