Like Drawn and Quarterly, Vertical Inc., publishes manga for people who think they don’t like manga. Its best-selling titles include the Osamu Tezuka classics Black Jack and Buddha, and it also publishes a variety of series that go beyond the standard shonen/battle and shoujo/romance genres; upcoming titles include the all-ages cat manga Chi’s Sweet Home and the action-packed Peepo Choo, a series created by American creator Felipe Smith for a Japanese publisher.
Vertical’s marketing director, Ed Chavez, showed up at Anime Boston over the weekend with an aggressive schedule to announce. Although it’s a small company, Vertical plans to release a volume of its manga series every two months. Chavez took the opportunity to promote the company’s previously announced series and also tease the audience about some potential new licenses. Noting that Black Jack will end next summer, Chavez said, “We will be working with Tezuka productions to see if we can add another Tezuka series next year. … I want to get an actual series that is provocative and hopefully not too lengthy. If we can find something around the Buddha range, six, seven, eight volumes, that will please many of you Tezuka fans out there.”
Chavez also flashed a slide for a mysterious “Manga Series R,” by a creator whose work was once published by Viz Media. That’s all he would say, but the book will be a 320-page hardcover volume, which looks like a prestige format.
Currently in the works are:
• Twin Spica, debuting in May: This story of a girl who is training to be an astronaut in the Japanese space program relies on strong storytelling and an interesting cast as much as on the lead character herself. “It’s continuous from start to finish—not lot of little arcs,” Chavez said.
• Chi’s Sweet Home, due out on June 28: Vertical is going for a broader readership by flipping this cute manga about a lost cat and its adopted family and printing it in full color. “This is going to be a rare manga where we are working hand in hand with the Japanese rights holders,” Chavez said. “They are looking at everything from how I render the Chi-speak to the fonts, so we are getting this printed in Japan.” He added that bookstore orders have been particularly strong for this title.
• Peepo Choo, starting in July: Felipe Smith, creator of MBQ, won an international manga competition run by the Japanese publisher Kodansha, and his prize was to have his manga published in a Japanese magazine. The series just wrapped up in Japan, Chavez said
• 7 Billion Needles, coming in August: Based on a 1950 novel, Needle, by American writer Hal Clement, this is a four-volume sci-fi series about a shy girl who has to share her body with an alien and ultimately has to save humanity.
• Ayako, by Osamu Tezuka, in October: Vertical is publishing Tezuka’s tale of postwar Japan as a single 704-page volume.
Chavez also noted that Vertical will be reprinting Tezuka’s Apollo’s Song in two volumes with a new trim size and new covers.