DMP has done it again. In just one weekend, they managed to get enough buy-in from manga faithful in order to fund their license of Osamu Tezuka's Barbara, a title that's described as "dark" and "experimental." Previously, DMP had brought out a reprint of Tezuka's Swallow the Earth through Kickstarter.
There are two big things here. The first one is that DMP has shown, albeit in a limited sense, that Kickstarter and other crowdsourcing options are a viable strategy for licensing projects. Smaller, independent publishers may be able to explore how this works for titles they wish to acquire. The only thing is, it requires the cooperation of the Japanese licensor, which can be a bit of a challenge for some of the larger Japanese publishers -- they're slow to change.
But, can more companies explore this model? Without a doubt. It's possible for Vertical to, although I don't know how things have changed with their new Japanese investors. Fakku could, with its decision to start selling translated ero manga. Fantagraphics, perhaps, but it's unlikely. And while incredibly difficult (in my mind), it's possible for a new business to open up and start licensing works. Possible, but improbable.
The second thing is that Barbara is a very esoteric title that you wouldn't see licensed by one of the larger publishers here. Deb Aoki has a wonderful writeup of the title, and I'll leave it to her to explain the majority of it. But, what we're seeing nowadays is more experimental stuff come out that's proven to be good. Look at Ayako. Think of what else could be licensed by these means.
It's a lot of hoping and dreaming, but we're starting to see a change in how things get done that can help smaller houses stay alive and thrive when it comes to giving us some of the most interesting and thought provoking manga out there.
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