When the news broke last week that Kodansha would stop licensing its manga to Del Rey and publish them under its own imprint, some commenters reacted with dismay. Aside from being unimpressed with the first few releases from the Japanese publisher, American readers are not happy with Kodansha’s complete lack of accessibility to the public — no content on their website, no press releases and very few interviews.
So when the Kodansha panel abruptly disappeared from the schedule for New York Comic Con & New York Anime Festival, online reaction was sharp and rather resentful. Fortunately, the Kodansha honchos seem to realize that things were going off-kilter and authorized Dallas Middaugh, who will continue to edit the publisher’s books under the new arrangement, to address what exactly happened.
And what happened was not a sudden cancellation, but rather a miscommunication, Middaugh explained. Kodansha had originally planned to do a panel at NYAF but decided to cancel it at the end of August. “We realized that we were a little off schedule,” he told Robot 6. “We really weren’t going to have any titles to announce, and without any titles to announce, we didn’t see any point in having the panel. I contacted the [New York] Comic Con folks and told them ‘We got nothing, please cancel the panel.’ And in their defense, I did say ‘What’s the latest we can get back to you if we decide we do want a panel?’ That day came and went, we had canceled the panel, they unfortunately took it as a yes and ran the panel information, and we were surprised the panel was listed.”
So what looked like an abrupt cancellation was actually a correction.
“It’s not the way we want to do things,” Middaugh said. “It’s very important to us to communicate with the fans, but it’s also important not to reach out until we have something to say. All apologies to everybody. We will of course have announcements coming up, over the next several months, but we don’t have everything ready for this show.”
While the scheduling snafu was one of those things that just happens with shows (Viz Media’s panel also disappeared from the schedule), it’s telling that Middaugh was able to speak about it on the record. One of the reasons for Del Rey’s popularity was its openness — Middaugh and then-marketing director Ali T. Kokmen frequently popped up in forums and on blog posts to engage fans — and it’s good to see Kodansha recognizing that American readers don’t like to be ignored.