Tuesday, July 30, 2013

CBNAH Delves Into the Noodles of Paulsen and Butcher of UDON Ent...

Within the last decade UDON Entertainment has been making of a name for themselves. Releasing high quality comics, manga, prints, posters and art books. The Canadian studio has built a strong fan base and a force in publishing. CBNAH caught up with Ash Paulsen, Associate Editor and Chris Butcher, Marketing Director of UDON to chat about SDCC, UDON on ComiXology, Bravoman and more.

CBNAH: How was SDCC this year for UDON? What was the best selling item at the UDON booth?

ASH PAULSEN: This year was an excellent one for UDON at SDCC! Our best-selling item was definitely our core convention debut book for this year, the holofoil hardcover edition of Mega Man 25 (hereinafter "MM25"). We were selling through our stock of MM25 so quickly within the first hour or so of Preview Night that we had to hold some copies back for Thursday through Sunday, just to ensure that other attendees would have a crack at them! But even those sold within the first ten minutes of the exhibit hall opening each morning, with hardcore Mega Man fans lining up outside our booth for the chance to bring home their own hardcover edition of MM25.

CHRIS BUTCHER: MM25 was definitely our fastest seller, but our best-seller was actually Street Fighter Origins: Akuma, the long-awaited graphic novel by Chris Sarracini and Joe Ng! We sent a few more copies of it to Comic-Con than MM25 because it weighed less (rush-shipping books from overseas is expensive!), and we sold every one! Luckily we’ll be doing online sales at UDONSTORE.com beginning August 1st, for folks who couldn’t make it to Comic-Con to pick up our show exclusives.

CBNAH: Speaking of San Diego Comic Con, big news with several UDON titles that will be available on ComiXology. How did the process come about?

CHRIS BUTCHER: Honestly, ComiXology approached us about working together, and since our fans had been asking us to put our comics on that service for a while now, we accepted their lovely invitation. We’re excited to bring our complete line of Street Fighter comics and graphic novels to ComiXology, and we’ve been thrilled with how clean and crisp the art looks! We’re also looking forward to introducing fans to our original projects like Makeshift Miracle and Random Veus, and a selection of our manga and artbook titles too!

CBNAH: Coming out later this year will be Bravoman. Can you tell us what is Bravoman?

ASH PAULSEN: We're very excited to be working with ShiftyLook to release the first volume of Bravoman later this year! Bravoman is a 25-year-old video game that originally came out for the Turbo-Grafx 16 console. It's a side-scrolling platfomer/action game that never really became that well-known, but over the past year and a half or so, ShiftyLook -- a division of video game publisher Namco Bandai that specializes in revitalizing old and current Namco video game IPs and transforming them into new mixed media properties -- has brought Bravoman back stronger than ever with a popular web comic, web cartoon, and -- coming in August -- a new video game for mobile platforms.

UDON's upcoming Bravoman Vol. 1 book focuses on the web comic, collecting its first year of storylines as well as providing lots of bonuses for fans in the form of tribute art, comments from the web comic's creators, and more!

CBNAH: A few years ago UDON release the Silent Mobius. Any chance of seeing UDON picking up any original manga titles in the far future?

CHRIS BUTCHER: The manga market is tough right now… We’ve actually inquired after a few original properties over the past 12 months, but unfortunately the rights were snapped up by other publishers quickly! We’re always looking at all manner of new licensing and translation opportunities, and expanding our art book line with manga- and anime-related releases was a big move for us this past year! I think it’s safe to say you’ll see more manga releases from us in 2014.

CBNAH: This year and in 2014, we'll see more artbooks coming out from UDON. What books people should keep an eye on?

ASH PAULSEN: We've got tons of art books coming out over the next year that we know fans and newcomers will love - way more than I have room to talk about here!

On the Capcom front, we're very pleased that we've been able to answer one of our plans' loudest pleas with the localization of Breath of Fire Official Complete Works, which collects all the gorgeous artwork and character designs from all five games in Capcom's classic Breath of Fire RPG series. We're also showing fans of Falcom RPGs lots of love with a localization of Ys: The Art Book and not one, but two art books based on The Legend of Heroes series!

Of course, we're also continuing our line of beloved Street Fighter graphic novels with Super Street Fighter Vol. 2, as well as keeping our legacy Street Fighter stories alive in a bigger and more beautiful format than ever before with Street Fighter Classic Vol. 2 and the new hardcover edition of Street Fighter IV: Wages of Sin, which includes eight bonus stories and a new, six-page Juri story.

CHRIS BUTCHER: For the rest of 2013 and 2014, in addition to the titles we’ve mentioned, P4: Arena, the next book in our Persona series, is going to blow people away. I’m also excited about our Hyperdimenson Neptunia + Mk2 book, because the anime is airing now in Japan to absolute rave reviews.

Oh, and we’re happy to say that the long-delayed Eyes of Bayonetta art book, probably our most-inquired-after project of all time, will make its way to store shelves sometime in the next little while. I think that one is going to make a LOT of people very happy!

CBNAH: Are there any titles or art books that have floated under the radar that people should check out?

ASH PAULSEN: A personal favorite of a few of us here at UDON that has flown under the radar a bit more than we'd like is Midori Foo's Book of Pictures, which is just brimming with ridiculously gorgeous artwork, costume designs, and more. The barrier of entry may be a little higher for some because the art within is not based on an existing, well-known IP, but don't let that deter you: this book is not to be missed and is one of the most gorgeous, value-packed art books we've ever localized!

CHRIS BUTCHER: Oh I love the Midori Foo collection, it really is stunning. The other two books that I think hardcore art book fans might not know about are Shining Force Feather: Design Works and Atelier: Artworks of Arland. Both of these feature the artworks of (arguably) the most popular character designers in Japan, with Noizi Ito and ‘pako’ on SFF and Mel Kishida on Atelier. They’re beautiful books, with special ink treatments, paper treatments, the whole nine yards. Gorgeous stuff.

CBNAH: UDON has been known to have a great working relationship with CAPCOM. What's it like to work with CAPCOM?

ASH PAULSEN: Capcom has been and is amazing to work with, and to have continuing access to one of video gaming's deepest, most beloved well of characters, worlds, and franchises is something we are always thankful for. It can be said that our initial work with Capcom on Street Fighter is what really propelled us into the public eye to begin with, so even though we work with properties besides Capcom ones now, our relationship with them continues to be one of our most beneficial and rewarding professional partnerships. We're very pleased to have been able to work so closely with Capcom and so many of their flagship games and franchises such as Street Fighter, Mega Man, Okami, Ace Attorney, and Darkstalkers, and we look forward to our continuing relationship with Capcom benefiting fans over the next year with our upcoming Breath of Fire, Devil May Cry, Dragon's Dogma, and Asura's Wrath art books!

CHRIS BUTCHER: I’m actually the newest hire at the company and had never worked with licensors before, and had been warned by colleagues about how difficult working on licensed properties can be…! But working with Capcom has been great, there are a lot of passionate people there that are just as excited to be working with us as we are with them. I feel like we’re pretty lucky to have such a great relationship.

CBNAH: Is there anything you would like to say the fans who supported UDON and its products throughout the years?

ASH PAULSEN: This may sound trite, but it's so true: our fans mean everything to us. It's you, the fans, who allow us to continue to prosper and localize incredible Japanese and Korean art books that would otherwise never see the light of day in the West, and we are so thankful to each and every one of you, whether you are specifically UDON fans, Capcom fans, Street Fighter fans, or just fans of excellent art in general. It's precisely because we love our fans so much that we directly listen to what you want and fulfill those requests as much as possible -- after all, Breath of Fire Official Complete Works and Ys: The Art Book are happening now because you, our passionate fans, have been asking us to localize them! With that in mind, if there are other art books you'd like to see us localize in the future, be sure to let us know on our Facebook page or on Twitter! The entire UDON crew is always on the lookout for new projects to take on, and we at UDON are all about pleasing the fans who have helped us become successful.

Even More Fantasia Film Festival Reviews..!

Fantasia Film Festival: The Battery Review by Oz & Panagiotis Drakopoulos

Oz’s Take: THE BATTERY. WHO IS THE BATTERY? MICKEY (Actor/Producer Adam Cronheim)? BEN (Director/Writer/Producer/Actor Jeremy Gardner)? ME? YOU? Fuck zombie movies, fuck them all compared to this low budget masterpiece. I’ve seen it all “being an old man,” but this one, this one sparked my imagination.

I talked with the guys from the film and I can't say that I didn't leave impressed. Aggressive, energetic, projective, intense, personal, and ambitious, these fellas had all the proper dealing/recipe to make a fuck you soup. Fuck you standing for imagination, representation and expression, and not genital exercise. A beautiful zombie flick yet light on the zombies. The human person was the main star here. You are like this, I am like this but what WE are at the end of the world where our only neighbours/contact to walking flesh is zombies? Oh but don't say the z word, Mickey has issues dealing with this. Why? Cuz he has issues of letting go, letting go of yesterday, letting go of sanity, letting go of comfort and security. This new world isn't here to welcome you or hug you or keep you warm, this world is here to strip you bear boned. This world is here to fucking measure your mettle and what you are willing to do to survive. Ben is your guide to this reality and Mickey is a false hope that wants you to stick to your yesterday. A journey that tests both men to their limits, it was a pleasure and an honour being included on the ride.

Panagiotis’ Take: The Battery is one of those films that will leave you wanting more. Wanting you to feel uneasy and asking questions about humanity. The premise of the film follows two former baseball players Ben (Jeremy Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim) trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. Tension mounts between the two. Ben feels at easy living a nomadic and undomesticated life. While Mickey is unable to cope with his current living conditions and wants a static lifestyle, a bed, a woman, shelter, and to be social with human life (outside of Ben). The constant fighting between them leads to many twists and turn, and an horrifying ending. The Battery could easily take place in the same universe as The Walking Dead television series or any of George A. Romero zombie film. With a budget about $6000, this film does more with less. It’s all the story and the human drama of two people trying to survive in a world run by zombies. The Battery is a film that everyone should check out and experience for themselves. A true hidden gem and a game changer to the horror genre. 

Fantasia Film Festival: DOOMSDAYS Review by Panagiotis Drakopoulos

DOOMSDAYS is one of the most unique films I’ve ever seen. It’s a comedy about preparing for the apocalypse. The story is about two friends Dirty Fred (Justin Rice) and Bruno (Leo Fitzpatrick) who are uncertain about the future due to the declining petroleum resources will lead to the collapse of the modern world. Instead of waiting for the end, both men decide to live life as a couple of vagabonds. Breaking into vacant homes and staying there until they run out of supplies or when the home owners return. This becomes a daily routine until they meet with up a runaway teenage named Jaidon (Brian Charles Johnson) and a woman at a party named Reyna (Laura Campbell) join the duo on their travels. This leads into huge shift within the group. DOOMSDAYS is great film with an awesome cast and a very original concept. The principal cast has a special bond between them, to a point where these fictional characters feel like real people. This from a strong script and direction from writer/director Eddie Mullins. I enjoy watching the film and planning on watching it again at the festival. I highly recommend this film and look forward for Mr. Mullins next project.     

Fantasia Film Festival: Rurouni Kenshin Review by Panagiotis Drakopoulos

Rurouni Kenshin is based on the popular manga(comic) of the same name, created by Nobuhiro Watsuki, which appeared in Weekly Shonen Jump back in the mid 90s. The two plus hour film was able to cover the first major story arc of the comic. With some minor changes to the original source material. The film follows a wanderer named Himura Kenshin (Takeru Satoh), who wants to spend his days in peace. But a decade prior, he was a former assassin with a bloody past known as “Hitokiri Battosai.” While on his journey he meets the lovely and compassionate Kamiya Kaoru (Emi Takei) the owner of her late father’s dojo. After this faithful encounter between the two, Kenshin must wield his sword again to take down an evil businessman named Takeda Kenryu (Teruyuki Kagawa). Rurouni Kenshin is the perfect film for both a male and female audience. Insane and over the top action scenes mix with romance and a sprinkle of comedy all around. There are some issues I do have with the film. Some of the comedy bits during the most dramatic scenes in the film felt in weird and out of place, and trying to compress a long a comic story into a 135 minute film felt overwhelming. Yet, this is still a great film that got a loud applause from the audience when the credits rolled on screen. If Rurouni Kenshin is playing at your local cinema or film festival I highly recommend for you to watch this film.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Oz-Tastic Fantasia Film Festival Reviews..!

 Fantasia Film Festival: Magic Magic Review by Oz

The previews for this film kept showing Michael Cera in a dark and sinister role but after viewing, it was the same old with him. Awkward, funny, if slightly more vulgar and Spanish speaking then usual, still he's a saving grace. The movie itself follows a vacationing American girl in South America, reconnecting with her cousin Sarah (Emily Browning). Sarah welcomes Alicia (Juno Temple) to her new life and friends, but she quickly feels secluded and alone. After unfinished "school" business (in actuality a visit to the hospital attending to an abortion) keeps Sarah from joining her for the first few days in their rustic, middle of the woods holiday home, things spiral downwards mentally for Alicia. The atmospheric soundtrack's goal was to keep you uneasy, but it just gave me a headache. The shocking ending was really not what I was expecting but I still left disappointed. Magic Magic's message maintained to be pretty muddled and in the end, I personally just felt like Alicia's character was very whiny and unsinkable. Still even with the brain-pain, it does leave you with a feeling of discomfort, a feeling of being haunted and unnerved.

Fantasia Film Festival: Imaginaerum Review by Oz

It's a story about a man on his death bed. Surrounded by "loved ones" his own mind is reduced to that of his adolescent self and with the spectre of death disguised as a happy go lucky snowman, the adventure begins. Great visuals all around and the usage of power metal music as a medium to communicate deceit and betrayal in the mind's eye is a brilliant stroke for a movie, but still, it quickly leaves me wanting. It's an interesting look at the old "your entire life flashing before your eyes" but I feel like the message could have been communicated in a lot less time. Overall Imaginaerum is still an original piece of cinema but nothing I would really watch twice.

Fantasia Film Festival: Horror Stories Review by Oz

A South Korean horror anthology featuring 4 short stories with the purpose of soothing a maniac serial killer (Yoo Yeon-seok) into a much needed sleep. Ji-won (Kim Ji-won) is the kidnapped high school student narrating these tales of blood chilling malice. Survival instincts kicked up to 11, she comes up with some pretty intense and gory fables, each concluding in the most horrific manner possible. Lots of fun special effects and ghastly demises, still it maintains its share of regurgitated tropes.

Almost every installment has a dream sequence and other repetitive devices. And the formula becomes predictable. My favourite has to be DON'T ANSWER THE DOOR; it maintained a creepy vibe through out as the young brother and sister duo are terrorized in their upstart apartment. My second preferred anecdote is SECRET RECIPE because who doesn't love cannibalism? Set on a Cindarella-esque backdrop, it displays how far the power of envy and jealousy can go.

The main theme I noticed in all the stories was the power of cruelty, especially one displayed by men. It also maintains a subtle sense of humour through out. HORROR STORIES is engaging and manages to stay varied segment to segment, I look forward to more work from Jung Bum-Shik and co.

CBNAH Festive Interviews from Fantasia Film Festival...

CBNAH @ Fantasia Film Festival: Interview with Director Darren Paul Fisher (audio)

CBNAH was able to interview the director of OXV: The Manual, Darren Paul Fisher at the Fantasia Film Festival.For more info on OXV: The Manual check out these sites:

CBNAH @ Fantasia Film Festival: Interview with Director Mike Mendez (audio)

CBNAH was able to interview the director of Big Ass Spider, Mike Mendez at the Fantasia Film Festival. For more info on Big Ass Spider check out these links: 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Man Oh Man-ga..! CBNAH Interview with Digital Manga Publishing...

Digital Manga Inc or DMI for short, is publishing company focusing on releasing manga titles in North American. Within the last decade the company has launched many successful imprint lines. Juné and 801 Media imprints focus mainly on yaoi(boys love stories) manga titles. DokiDoki imprint releases exclusive titles from the Japanese publisher Shinshokan. DMP Platinum publishes classic manga titles, think of it as their own Criterion Collection imprint. Project-H imprint publish hentai, ecchi, and ero titles, and their very own DMP Books(Digital Manga Publishing) focuses on other genres like Vampire Hunter D for fantasy and horror, and Start With A Happy Ending for drama.

Along the way, they co-published Trigun and Hellsing with Dark Horse Comics, and funded a couple of Osamu Tezuka (The God of Manga) titles on Kickstarter. Recently, at Anime Expo in the Digital Manga Publishing panel, it was announced that DMP had formed a partnership with Tezuka Production to release all of Osamu Tezukas works digitally across the world.

CBNAH did an interview with Yoko Tanigaki, VP Sales & Distribution of DMP to talk about Anime Expo, internal reaction to the Tezuka deal, using Kickstarter and more.

CBNAH: First off, how was Anime Expo this year and the feedback you got from visitors of the industry panels to the Akadot Retail and eManga booth?

Yoko Tanigaki: AX2013 was great. It went very well. We received lots of positive feedbacks- People were excited to see that we offered game, ( https://www.emanga.com/search?categoryid=4 ) on emanga.com. Lots of people came to check it out at our booth. Akadot performed very well with our yaoi books too. Overall, it was a very good show; it was a lot of work but it all paid off in the end.

CBNAH: The big announcement from Anime Expo is that DMP will be working with Tezuka Production to release all of Osamu Tezuka's works digitally worldwide. What was the internal reaction from the company when the deal was signed by both parties? Any chance of this material appearing on Comixology?

YT: Yes. It was a big, big- HUUUGE announcement for us. I cant believe we get to work with Tezuka pros entire library of manga. We are going worldwide with this. Tezukas been looking for a way to go international for a long time. And partnering up with Digital Manga was the solution. This is it. It took months and months of skype meetings to get this far. We are both extremely happy with the outcome and we are looking forward to working with them. Chance of this appearing on Comixology yes. I think so.

CBNAH: DMP is one of the few establish companies (along with Top Cow Productions) to find great success in funding projects via Kickstarter. There's a lot of great benefits using Kickstarter, but what are certain challenges comes with using Kickstarter? Will we see non-Tezuka projects on Kickstarter in the far future?

Both Unico and Barbara were successful funded on kickstarter, and Barbara got an Eisner nomination for Best U.S. Edition of International MaterialAsia award.

YT: One single, MOST difficult thing dealing with Kickstarter is- explaining WHAT KICKSTARTER is to the Japanese publisher. Theyve never heard of Kickstarter before and we had to explain to them, what it is. What is Kickstarter? How does it work? was the most difficult thing. We are essentially going to Tezuka Pro and say We want to license this but we arent sure if we want to license…” because we have to wait until the projects been funded. As for non-Tezuka projects on Kickstarer in the future? Sure. We thought about it.

CBNAH: The manga adaptation of Vampire Hunter D will be ending next fall with volume 8 due to health concerns for Saiko Takaki. How's she doing?

YT: Vampire Hunter D series has been our flagship series for us and Im (personally) sad to see it end. And its been a great run and we are very honored to have been able to work with Takaki sensei. She is doing just fine and everything is on schedule for our final volume in the fall of 2014.

CBNAH: We'll finally see the final volume of Ai no Kusabi be release later on this fall. The first volume came out way back in 2007, its been a long journey and how does it feel to see this title wrapping up? Your imprint lines June and 801 Media focuses on Yaoi titles and it's been huge success for the company. Are there any titles that have floated under the radar that readers should check out?

YT: I know lots of people were waiting on this series and Im glad to got them licensed. Titles that readers should check out ..? Oh my gosh YESSS. How much time do you have..???

My suggested titles are:

ABOUT LOVE (koi ni tsuite について9781569702437)

Summary from the Akadot website: Asaka is a dedicated wedding planner who’ll do anything to guarantee his clients’ happiness. Sadly, his own love life has all but vanished thanks to his ridiculous work schedule! But when Asaka’s first patron resurfaces, the precious spark of true love may finally fly for him. Can he plan the perfect affair…or will it just have to happen by chance? http://www.akadot.com/about-love-yaoi-gn-p-35818.html

FLUTTER (furatta フラッター 9781569702741)

Summary from the Akadot website: Asada is hypnotized by a handsome co-worker he sees on the street nearly every day. So when the two men are paired up for a high-pressure project, he can’t believe his good luck! But what will happen when Asada’s defenses are shaken by their immediate, undeniable connection? Flutter beats with the racing pulses of brand-new lovers! When success at work leads to an after-hours confession, an exciting relationship sparks to life. But is the flash of intimacy the beginning of a fiery blaze…or just a passing flicker? http://www.akadot.com/flutter-yaoi-gn-p-40300.html

SAME DIFFERENCE (Docchi mo Docchiどっちもどっち 9781569702666)

Summary from the Akadot website: From their offices high in a corporate skyscraper, alpha males Ozaki and Tsuburaya make all the girls swoon. Ozaki's known for his irresistible pheromones, while Tsuburaya's a noble, worldly genius. But when these rivals end up in bed together, who will prove to be top dog? It's seme versus seme - and much more than pride's on the line! http://www.akadot.com/same-difference-yaoi-gn-p-40250.html

CBNAH: A few years ago, Project-H was created for publishing Hentai, Ecchi and Ero books. Since its launch, has Project-H seen the same amount of success as the Yaoi imprint lines? What Project-H titles people should check out?

YT: I’d say the success of Project-H was greater than our yaoi imprint. They are very well received and it’s doing so well for us. Fan support has been great and we couldn’t have asked for more.

If you want to check out some of Project-H books, try:

VELVET KISS ( berubetto kisu ベルベット・キス 9781934129562)

Summary for volume one from the Project-H website: Shin’s spirits were soaring after winning the lottery and landing a contract with a famous firm in the same day—not bad for a normally luckless office worker. He quickly plummets back down to earth, however, upon discovering that he’s been saddled with an immense amount of debt. There is, however, one way he can keep his creditors at bay: become “friends” with an enigmatic and alluring girl named Kanoko. The task sounds simple enough at first, but leaves him eating his own words as Kanoko’s selfish demands start to take their toll on him both mentally and physically. Will Shin ever be able to pay his debt off, or will the lust, luxury, and mystery simply overwhelm him??

MY CUTE CROSSDRESSER (kurasumeito no josou wo tetsudattara kawaisugite furuega tomaranai ken クラスメイトの女装を手伝ったら可愛すぎて震えが止まらない件 ~松本ミトヒ。 オトコの娘作品集~ 9781934129586 )

Summary from the Project-H website: When sweet, determined Miharu goes undercover as a girl in order to track down a bunch of groping pervs, he catches the eye of his shocked classmate Keigo, too! But the biggest surprise of all? The two guys have the kind of chemistry that exists only in dreams. Will they suffer through the awkwardness and become the perfect team?

SEE ME AFTER CLASS (asamade jugyo Chu 1 まで授業Chu! 1 9781934129722)

Summary from the Project-H website: Yuuki's scored a full scholarship to a very prestigious school. The only catch? A ditzy teacher's error means he now has to crossdress to keep his real identity a secret! Will Yuuki pull it off... or will he be pulled to pieces by a cute, curious classmate?

You’ll love these.

CBNAH: DMP has been known to have great working relationships with Japanese publishing companies like Shinshokan and Tezuka Production. What's it like to work with these large companies on a daily basis and have the access to a large amount of titles to publish in print or in digital format?

YT: Yes. We’ve been blessed to be able to work with such a great publishers. My best part of the job – all I can read manga! It’s books after books… they tend to pile up very quickly and i don’t think I’ve seen my desk top in a while. Overwhelming- yes. But I love it. It’s never dull in this industry. There’s always something new and keeps me busy. Of course, it’s not always bunnies and rainbows.. there’s plenty of drama and difficult issues to deal with. We don’t always get what we want- some creators are for print only.. some are digital only… some don’t want to be published at all. Some don’t want to deal with us at all.

CBNAH: Thank you, for your time.

Check out Digital Manga Publishing and all of their different imprints and sites:

Digital Manga Corporate Site: http://www.digitalmanga.com/
Akadot Retail: http://www.akadot.com/
Vampire Hunter D: http://www.vampire-d.com/
Project-H Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ProjectHBooks