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Manga is the future of Comic-Con (and that’s a good thing) | Pro Club Bd

Manga has seen an unprecedented surge in sales in 2022, and the industry’s leading publishers are discussing their thoughts at this year’s SDCC.

The name comic con inherently conjures up images of American pop culture like Marvel and DC or Star Wars and Star Trek, but now more than ever they’re sharing space with the likes manga series like Demon Hunter and Spy X family. Manga is bigger than ever, and that’s definitely evident at this year’s Comic-Con. While some might dismiss this, a panel of the industry’s top English manga publishers indicates that the future of manga at SDCC is brighter than ever.

The SDCC 2022 Manga Publishing Industry Roundtable is a true who’s who of the biggest names in English manga. Michael Gombos from Dark Horse, Beth Kawasaki from Media-do, Kevin Hamric from Viz, Erik Ko from Udon, Ben Applegate from Penguin Random House, Ivan Salazar from Kodansha US, Ed Chavez from Denpa and Lyla Seo from Manta came together to discuss the state of manga in 2022. To say that the mood of the panel was celebratory would be an understatement. This year’s Manga Roundtable wasn’t just a celebration, it was a lap of honor, and a well-deserved one at that.

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According to the panelists, manga will record the best sales ever in 2022. Dark Horse’s Michael Gombos went as far as to say that the sales of their translated manga completely dwarfed the sales of their more traditional comics, despite making up a much smaller percentage of what they actually publish. Part of this is no doubt due to the increased cultural influence of berserk since the death of series creator Kentaro Miura, but it’s clear that Dark Horse’s manga sales are being driven by more than just one title. The panel’s details were intriguing to a publishing nerd like me, but you don’t need to know the numbers to see how manga and anime are already taking over Comic-Con.



SDCC 2022 Manga Publishing Industry Roundtable.

Well-known Japanese franchises such as dragon ball, Narutoand One piece have always been welcome in an environment like Comic-Con, but based on fan participation this year, you’d be wrong if you think so was a manga convention. At any given time, you are never more than ten or twenty paces from someone so dressed Demon Slayer Tanjiro or Family Spy X Anya. Both are extremely popular manga here in the West, but if you look closely you’ll even find a few Biscuit Krugers or Shizuku Murasakis Manga fans are no doubt heartened by the imminent return of the cult-classic Shonen manga Hunter X Hunter. It’s hard to say, but at times it seemed like there were more manga or anime cosplays than Marvel and DC cosplays.


Manga has outsold American comics for years, and commentators have just as long speculated as to why. The panelists at SDCC’s Manga Roundtable all had their own reasons. Viz’s Kevin Hamric speculated that people were hungry for new stories. Manta’s Lyla Seo felt that the rise of webcomics and easier digital access played a big role. From the abundance of queer content to the rise of shojo, there are a million different explanations. The reasons were varied, but the conclusions all came to the same point; Manga’s winning Gen-Z. It may be anecdotal, but based on SDCC’s cosplays alone, I tend to agree.


Still, if there’s one thing that attending Comic-Con will convince you of, it’s that any argument pitting western comics against eastern ones is misguided. You see a Batman fan talking about Tim Drake coming out as bisexual and you forget all the petty disagreements. All is good, all is worth celebrating, and all is important. Here, at SDCC, manga is bigger than ever, and it would be a mistake not to embrace this cultural shift with open and welcome arms.

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