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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Del Rey Manga panel at Kinokuniya

NEW YORK, November 3 — On a gray November afternoon, I visited the new Kinokuniya book store near Bryant Park. Kinokuniya is a worldwide chain of Japanese bookstores. This particular store was recently opened for business, and it had some nice features. The book store consisted of three floors of merchandise with a very big section of manga and anime on the second floor. It also had a cute little cafe area with packaged sandwiches and desserts.

Del Rey Manga panel. Photograph courtesy of Peter Tatara.

The main reason for my visit was a lecture panel given by Del Rey Manga. Del Rey Manga is the US manga publishing branch of the Random House Publishing Group. They localize and market hit manga titles such as Negima and Tsubasa.

Panelists included: Dallas Middaugh (Associate Publisher), Tricia Narwani (Publishing Associate), Ali T. Kokmen (Marketing Manager), Caron Harris (Production Manager) and April Flores (Associate Publicist).

I attended the panel with members from Detour Noir Studios, my newly formed graphic novel/animation studio. We were interested in hearing the process of Del Rey Manga's operation, and they were very detailed about their process. They even discussed the uses of five-color cover art versus the standard four-color American publishing standard. I found the panel to be very informative.

The Del Rey panel also heavily pushed Jason Thompson's Manga: The Complete Guide. They mentioned it almost twenty times throughout the discussion. Thompson, a regular contributor to Otaku USA Magazine, covers all the manga reviews for Otaku USA. Check out his manga reviews in the latest Otaku USA. They are very informative and insightful.

At the end of the panel, they opened the floor to questions. Most of the questions were focused on the creative side of the manga industry. I assume some audience members wanted to break into the industry as Original-English-Language Mangaka. However, the panelists only handled the publishing side of Del Rey Manga. They had very limited knowledge of the creative aspects to the manga industry. Some of the audience seemed disappointed at their answers.

Cosplay Day. Photograph courtesy of Peter Tatara.

In addition, it was Cosplay Day at Kinokuniya. Customers got a discount on merchandise for cosplaying. There were quite a few Naruto cosplayers and cat girls at the book store. Kinokuniya's promotional gimmick was further perpetuating the addiction of cosplay.

Finally, I ran into Peter Tatara, Programming Manager for the New York Anime Festival, and his girlfriend again. New York City is really a small place (overcrowded with over 8 million human beings). I guess our interest just overlap, and we just run into each other at anime/manga events. He was involved with promoting the New York Anime Festival. It was really cool to see them again.

Photographs courtesy of Peter Tatara.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happyfunsmile Halloween!

Happyfunsmile at Forbidden City

NEW YORK, October 31 — I celebrated Halloween at the Forbidden City Lounge. However, it took me almost forty-five minutes to fight my way through the New York City Halloween parade.

If you never experienced the New York Halloween Parade, it is another world. Basically, it's a huge outdoor cosplay party with millions of people. The parade stretches across a good portion of Sixth Avenue. It's so big that it usually spills over to Fifth Avenue and Seventh Avenue.

The pedestrian traffic was really brutal. I was tiptoeing through the crowd. I had to push and elbow my way out of the parade. My limited Jiu-jitsu skills became very useful in the crowd of cosplayers. I was lucky to get over to Forbidden City.

I did come across one girl who was dressed as Pris from Blade Runner. She had one large band of black eye shadow. She also had the teased out blonde hair. I didn't get a picture of it. I was too busy fighting my way through the crowd. Damn, I should have tried to get a photo of her. Ohh… well.

Happyfunsmile, a local Okinawan pop band, played a special Halloween show in front of the Forbidden City bar. The space was really tight, but they managed to rock the house. This was my second time watching them perform. They were great.

Peter Tatara, his girlfriend, and me.

I also had the chance to drink with Peter Tatara and his girlfriend. He was cosplaying as Urahara from Bleach. Peter is the Programming Manager for the New York Anime Festival. He recently got Patrick Macias as a guest for the festival, which is pretty awesome. New York City anime fans will get to meet the man behind OtakuUSA.

We had a few drinks and enjoyed the music of Happyfunsmile. Overall, it was a very cool night.