There a few things that still get me geeked about manga, and one thing is learning about new publishing ventures, especially one aimed at a mature audience. Robert McGuire, Editor-in-Chief of GEN Manga Entertainment, dropped by the virtual offices to answer some questions that I had about the new manga magazine GEN.
[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about your company?
[Robert McGuire] GEN is a monthly magazine featuring new seinen and doujinshi manga. We publish it simultaneously in America and Japan digitally. We offer limited addition printed copies as well. We aren’t a traditional publisher that buys rights to already existing titles. We find Japanese underground artists to create original manga for Americans. We translate the work as it is created and publish for our readers first.
[MMC] Historically, magazines have struggled in this market. Why did you decide to produce one?
[RM] I think all books and magazines struggle at first unless, of course, they are backed by huge corporate funding. I decided to publish because I love manga. I feel many of my peers who grew up reading manga want to continue reading, but the traditional market isn’t keeping up with their demand. It’s a smaller and more digital world now than it was 10 years ago. Readers don’t want to wait for manga they know is already out in Japan.
[MMC] How are you going to ensure that GEN remains on the cutting edge of manga?
[RM] We hope to let the readers tell us what the cutting edge will be. The stories we offer are made by doujinshi circles in Japan. So it doesn’t get much more raw than that. If the readers gravitate towards certain story lines or want to see something else, we welcome feedback. We have a direct line to doujinshi in Japan so we will continue to introduce new stories. But it is up to the readers to help support independents like us. Otherwise we fall back into reading titles that are decided by large marketing board meetings and publishers trying to tell you, the reader, what you should read. We don’t believe in that and as long as we can stay afloat we will try to give the new uncut stuff.
[MMC] Was it difficult finding titles with strong market appeal for your magazine?
[RM] We are trying to tap into an under developed market. So we really have little to base our titles on.That is to say, it seems that a certain market in the US has been pretty under represented, the adult market. Many traditional publishers seem to think that comics should follow certain patterns and aren’t willing to take chances on less than proven material. We are. So I hope the readers out there will help support our adventurous endeavor. And, I hope I can continue to give readers what they are looking for while helping make new mangaka known in the US.
[MMC]What are some of the biggest challenges you have overcome while working on the magazine?
[RM] Technology. I am more of an editorial person. So my tech knowledge needs improvement. We are developing an online version right now that will be readable on all devices. We try to keep things simple. But it’s a constant challenge to meet the demands of a digitally connected world.
[MMC] Why did you decide to publish more mature titles, instead of shounen titles, which seem to have a broader market appeal?
[RM] The shounen market is flooded with titles. It’s hard to add anything that isn’t already out there. Besides, readers who first started reading manga ten years ago are now growing up. They may want to start moving to titles geared more to their age range.
[MMC] How has the early reception been for GEN?
So far so good. People are really enthusiastic. Everyone really loves the idea and after reading an issue they can’t wait for the next. So I am pretty positive about it.
[MMC] What did you enjoy most about getting the first issue ready for release?
Working with the creators in Japan. It’s their work that makes everything possible. So I get to read and see a lot of new ideas. That’s always a lot of fun.
[MMC] Thanks so much for answering my questions!
GEN will be available nationwide June, 2011
You can order a print copy from Amazon using the handy widget below:
And make sure you follow the GEN crew online for updates and news!
GEN website: http://genmanga.com
Remember: You can download the first issue for free, and you can grab the second issue at a discount here: genmanga.com/discount
Let me know what you think of the magazine – I will have a review up hopefully before the end of next week.