Del Rey Manga and Marvel Comics announced Sunday afternoon a partnership to produce X-Men: The Manga and Wolverine: The Manga, both of which will debut in Spring 2009. Each title will be comprised of two books in standard manga format - around 200 pages, black and white - but will read Western-style (left to right). The X-Men series will be written by Raina Telgemeier (Babysitter's Club) and Dave Roma, with art by Anzu. Antony Johnston (Wasteland) will write Wolverine, with an artist to be announced.
The two publishers had previously hinted there would be a big announcement at the panel, one of the last such roundtables at the New York Anime Festival. Dallas Middaugh, associate publisher of Del Rey Manga, and editor Tricia Narwani were on hand for the manga side, while Marvel was represented by Vice President of Development Ruwan Jayatilleke and editor C.B. Cebulski.
The first slide Middaugh displayed for the audience suggested the major event would be Iron Man vs. Gundam, which drew some nervous laughs from the crowd. When the next two slides displayed Guest-starring H.E.R.B.I.E., the robot from the 1970s Fantastic Four cartoon, and (just kidding), the crowd breathed more easily and the real announcement began.
Middaugh explained Del Rey's existing relationship with Marvel, which has included novelizations of Marvel films such as the upcoming Iron Man. He said the collaboration came about very naturally, and that the two publishers' familiarity with each other allowed the licensing arrangement to progress much more smoothly than is often the case in similar arrangements.
Acknowledging this is not Marvel's first foray into manga - Marvel has published a previous X-Men manga series and Spider-man J-- Cebulski explained the benefits of teaming up with Del Rey. Over the yearsm Marvel has had various successes but more so failures in the manga genre than we care to admit, he said. And when we were looking to expand into the manga genre we started talking to Dallas, and there's no better partner. We do the superheroes, they're best at doing the manga, so why don't we put the leaders in two genres together and come up with some kind of line that's just going to blow people away from both sides of the aisle?
Narwani, who will edit the X-Men title, showed some preliminary art from Anzu but cautioned that the characters shown may look different in the published book, or may not appear at all. She said the series would be in the Shojo style, aimed specifically at teenage girls, and described the book as 'X-Men meets 'Fruits Basket.' It will take place at a school for gifted youth, Narwani said, but the difference is that it's an all-boys school until our hero, Kitty Pryde, is the only girl.
Middaugh then showed a slide of a very bishonen Wolverine, and revealed Logan's series would be Shonen, geared more towards males.
Middaugh also said these books would not inhabit a shared world, and that they were aiming this squarely at the manga audience, who may or may not be reading the 'X-Men' comics. Middaugh compared the situation to the big-screen X-Men films, in which one could follow the characters without prior knowledge but may recognize small details or in-jokes that the non-initiated would miss.
Asked about the possibility of new characters unique to the manga, Middaugh said, Yeah, that's definitely possible.
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