Comics Disassembled: Ten Things of Note from the Past Week in Comics, Led by International Superstars

I haven’t said this very often of late, but it was a fun and interesting week of news in comics! Let’s get to ten things I liked or didn’t like from that slate in this week’s edition of Comics Disassembled.

1. Marvel Manga, Arriving!

In the easiest sell of the week, Marvel revealed this week that Viz will be publishing English language versions of two notable manga adaptations of its characters in October and November of this year, and both of them are tasty treats. The first is something I’ve written about before, with it being Spider-Man: Octo-Girl, Volume 1, a story that follows Doctor Octopus as…he experiences life as a middle school girl in Japan? Apparently after a battle with Spider-Man results in Doc Ock going into a coma, he’s transported into the body of the aforementioned schoolgirl, and then lives that whole life. And the thing I love about that is it isn’t regular Western comics just being released in manga form but Marvel characters interpreted through a manga lens. That isn’t a Marvel idea! That’s a manga idea, and I love it. That one hits in October and I will be reading.

Similarly, November’s release of X-Men Manga, Volume 1 will be coming home with me. That’s Hiroshi Higuchi’s adaptation and interpretation of X-Men: The Animated Series, and it’s coming with a new translation and in a deluxe package, meaning it’ll be the best version you can get of this story. I suspect both of these releases will be big hits when they arrive later this year, as they’re timed for the holidays and thread the needle between being perfect for manga fans and superhero ones. It’s the best of both worlds, hitting on two significant fanbases. I’m into it, and I suspect comic shops and bookstores will be as well.

2. ICv2 Direct, Intriguing

This week’s most interesting business news was the announcement of ICv2 Direct, a new sales platform fronted by the site focused on “The Business of Geek Culture.” Its founder Milton Griepp, once the head of one of the biggest comic distributors in Capital City Distribution, is a practiced hand in this space, and ICv2 Direct is an original approach to an old idea. The premise is simple: ICv2 Direct will operate as a platform for a variety of game and comic publishers through which retailers can order products, ICv2 Direct will process orders and payment, pass those onto the publishers, and then the publishers will route the product onto said publishers. Consider it a consolidation play, one that allows smaller publishers and game makers to gain visibility while shops can consolidate a bevy of orders through one portal. It’s a way to unify direct-to-retailer efforts that are already happening, while allowing for more depth of product, as this won’t just be focused on new inventory but back-list and limited products as well.

It’s launching with games first, with comics coming in a few months. On the comic side, it sounds like the focus will be on smaller publishers that either don’t move through typical distribution channels or are much further down the pecking order. As for how it works, per a conversation with Griepp, it will be commission-based, so ICv2 Direct will make a cut on sales. But the hope behind it all is it will make things easier on shops who sell these products.

Whether it does will largely depend on which retailers and publishers sign up. Scale is the question here, and the one that came up in my initial questions to retailers on their thoughts about it. If it’s just housing inventory they weren’t ordering already, that’s going to be less valuable. If it offers more than that, then there’s potential here. Given that it’s a few months from launch in the comics space, time will tell, but this will be one that’s worth keeping an eye on.

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