Newly minted indie publisher Chromatic Press has announced two new series for its digital anthology Sparkler, which will launch in July as a monthly magazine: Dire Hearts, a magical-school-battle story by Christy Lijewski, creator of RE:Play and Next Exit, and Gauntlet, an illustrated prose novel written by Ellery Prime and illustrated by T2A.
In addition to that news, Chromatic reached a milestone of sorts last week: It began shipping print copies of the first two volumes of Jen Lee Quick’s Off*Beat, which were funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Off*Beat was originally released by Tokyopop, which stopped publishing original English manga before the third volume was finished. Chromatic bought the rights from Tokyopop and gave the full copyright to Quick; in return, she signed to publish the full series with Chromatic.
Chromatic Press is run by four women with a ton of experience in comics and other media, including former Tokyopop editor Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, freelance writer and editor Lianne Sentar, freelance manga editor Rebecca Scoble, and Jill Astley, who works for a big bank by day and is heavily involved in otome game fandom when she’s off the clock.
Diaz-Przybyl, Sentar, and Scoble all worked for Tokyopop in one capacity or another — Sentar and Scoble were freelancers, while Diaz-Przybyl was the backbone of the company, acquiring licenses from Japan and shepherding many of their original English language manga from creation to print — and in a sense, Chromatic Press is a continuation of what Tokyopop was doing, providing a path to publication for OEL manga creators and building an audience for their work.
While a number of Tokyopop creators have done well in other styles or with other companies, Chromatic is the only publisher to focus solely on homegrown manga-style graphic novels. Its digital-first strategy makes a lot of sense, but the company’s true strength right now is the quality of the creators: Quick and Lijewski are both accomplished artists who built a following with their Tokyopop graphic novels and cultivated an online community, and if anyone can bring back the homegrown manga revolution, it will be them.