With Tokyopop’s closing, a lot of attention has been paid to the loss of the Japanese licenses. Of course, this is what most manga fans are concerned with. The loss of such an extensive line, for what will probably be forever really hurts. But Tokyopop had another line of books that were actually doing quite well, that as a parent, I am acutely aware of losing; the HarperCollins YA adaptations.
I know a lot of people didn’t care for these titles much, and Tokyopop didn’t always handle the books correctly. Vampire Kisses and Avalon High are the ones that tend to come up when discussing these, though they did seem to sell fairly well. But the one series that really did well and was a perennial hit was Warriors. This tween series by Erin Hunter about tribes of cats struggling to survive in the Two-legs world and fighting between each other for territory, has a big following, both with the print books and online. These stories weren’t adaptations of the novels, but short side stories that fit into the overall universe. They were also much shorter than the adaptations, averaging around 80 pages a volume, so they were quicker to produce. Three 3-volumes titles and one single volume have been published with a fourth three-volume series planned, with the first volume scheduled to be released in July. And it isn’t just Warriors that’s affected. Another series by Erin Hunter, Seekers, about 4 bear cubs searching for a place where they can live without human interference, also has a manga series, with the second volume just being released last month. But with Tokyopop shutting down, what’s going to happen with these titles, both the new ones as well as the back catalog?
I think the possibility of losing these titles should be of some concern. These side stories not only enrich the universe for novel readers, but they can also draw in kids that may be reluctant at first to pick the novels. I speak from experience, and my youngest daughter, who struggle with reading in elementary school, resisted reading the novels until she read the OEL adaptations. They were enough of a draw to get her to start reading the novels, which she has since devoured. I know comics in general have a bad reputation among teachers and parents as being mindless entertainment, and they would prefer kids to read novels. But when you have a problem reader, I am all for anything that can draw them into the wonderful worlds novels can provide.
I don’t know what the fate of these title will be. I haven’t been able to find anything that talks about them. Not with the announcement of Tokyopop and HarperCollins ending their distribution deal in January of this year, and not with the closing. The next releases still show to be on schedule according to Amazon and HarperCollins, but that doesn’t really mean anything. Amazon has left titles with release dates up for cancelled titles before. I guess we’ll just have to wait for July and see if they actually come out.
I really hope HarperCollins can and does keep these titles going. Even if they aren’t manga, they are graphic stories that kids want to read, and I’m all for keeping around books kids want.