Layoffs for Viz; Death Rattle for Go!Comi

This week has been a truly terrible week for manga publishing.

First the news swirled around the manga community that Go!Comi’s forums came down and last week it was reported that their domain name registration had expired. There have been no moves to revive the publisher’s website and a contact number came up as the personal number of Go!Comi’s CEO, David Wise. The publisher had not released any new books since September 2009,  well over six months ago.

On top of Go!Comi’s demise, it was announced today that Viz has laid off 55  employees, approximately 40% of their workforce. While this likely doesn’t mean the death of the U.S. manga giant, it certainly means that they might be having a little trouble money-wise and need to cut the chaff in order to survive. My heart goes out to those laid-off, as I’m sure it was quite a shock for them to hear. It’s definitely quite a shock considering the large number of releases Viz puts out and the company’s recent aggressive new initiatives such as SigIKKI and the New People building.

I would like to commend Gia Manry’s excellent reporting at  Anime Briefs on both subject matters. I’m really just doing a quick rehash so I can add some commentary below.

I would have to say that Go!Comi’s slow, quiet death hurts me the most. They had quite a number of great series and even though some of their later licensing choices were probably the worst decisions they could have made, I would have still bought them if it meant saving the company. Since the California company was in the Greater Los Angeles area, I had been hopeful that the company would resurrect itself so I could go bother them for a job. I say that not because I wanted more money or anything like that, but because I really DID want to go work for them. (I mentioned in a previous post that I’d met some of their employees and loved their attitudes.) I loved Tenshi Ja Nai, Cantarella, After School Nightmare, Bound Beauty and many others from the bottom of my heart and it kills me to know that I won’t be seeing the end of some of those wonderful series anytime soon. I’m sorry this is goodbye, Go!Comi.

While Viz’s huge layoff’s are a little shocking because everyone thought Viz was doing better than any other manga publisher at the moment, I’m not as surprised as I thought I would be. Viz is putting out a large amount of titles right now and not all of them are as successful as Viz would like, I’m sure. The company has clearly gotten a bit too big for it’s britches and now it’s legs have been cut out from under itself. This reminds me a little of what happened to TOKYOPOP a few years back and while it sucks that people have lost their jobs, perhaps it will be better for the company overall. I also can’t help but think that maybe a few of TOKYOPOP’s recent recovery strategies, such as publishing fewer books per month and spacing out releases more, might have saved a few jobs. Again, I am worried that Viz won’t be hiring soon (I would also really like to work for them as an editor someday. A girl can dream.), which puts a damper in my plans to seek out more manga publishers as my clients. Maybe in another year or so, Viz might think it needs another editor to keep up with the demands of it’s rigorous publishing schedule or might hire a few freelancers such as myself in the meantime. Until then, I am crossing my fingers and hoping my friends who work as freelancers for Viz aren’t affected by this too.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Layoffs for Viz; Death Rattle for Go!Comi

  1. giapet

    VIZ may well STILL be doing better than other manga publishers– I believe they’re still the largest of the North American licensors in terms of sheer number of employees devoted specifically to manga, although I don’t know that for sure, but these layoffs almost certainly won’t leave them among the smallest companies.

    Publishers like Yen, Del Rey, Dark Horse, and CMX have parent companies with deep pockets and toes in other markets; Vertical dabbles in all sorts of subjects; Media Blasters and Bandai depend on their anime sales as well. That leaves VIZ, Seven Seas, and DMP as the lone manga-only companies. DMP makes fair money off of its BL; Seven Seas…well, I don’t have much of a sense of them; they’re pretty quiet all in all.

    But VIZ does publish a ton of manga, and very few of those titles are Naruto/Bleach/One Piece/Fullmetal Alchemist-level series. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the lower-performing titles quietly ceased being released.

    • I’m sure Viz really is doing better than most other publishers, especially with so much to back them up, but they’re quite obviously not doing quite as well as they usually let on. I’m a bit afraid for them just because they have such a large amount of releases that are all rather quick, but I don’t think they’re dying. As far as I can remember they haven’t dropped any titles before they were completed for quite awhile.

      I also wouldn’t qualify DMP as manga only. They also have Akadot Retail, Pop Japan Travels, Dream Shoppe and a few other things that aren’t manga publishing arms.

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