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Tokyopop: Out of the Stew and Into the Fire? - Little Rivkah's Journal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Rivkah רִבְקָה

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Tokyopop: Out of the Stew and Into the Fire? [Jun. 4th, 2008|02:50 pm]
Rivkah רִבְקָה

If you haven't heard the news yet, Tokyopop has split into two companies (the usual 'we publish books' company and a new 'we publish movies, music, and merchandise' company) and in the process, has laid off 39 direct employees (in a company of 80-100) and cut its yearly output of books in half. Heidi, over at The Beat, has a follow-up report and links.

From somebody who's been working with Tokyopop for nearly four years now, the news doesn't come as much of a surprise, I guess. The annoying thing is that this leaves Steady Beat 3 in limbo until things settle down and resources consolidate. News is slow but not absent; it seems my editor survived the cut, but I don't doubt she's swamped with work. Cutting half of your output doesn't help any if you're also cutting half your employees as well. Half the work but also half the staff to handle them.

So how does this affect OEL creators?

Honestly, I'm happy this happened. I was expecting bankruptcy by November 2007. Instead, for perhaps the first time ever, Tokyopop has made the right move by cutting back on how much spagetti they throw at the wall to see what sticks. I don't doubt the turmoil will take several months to settle down and many of us creators will be cut, but from a business perspective, this means that in the long run, they could potentially be better off. They cut back also by deciding not to exhibit at San Diego or Anime Expo which means less time spent going to conventions and more time focusing on actual creative material; it's the little things that count, and when employees run up a thousand dollar tab just on drinks, that hurts not just the company but the creators as well.

And not only that, but Stu Levy is no longer head of the book publishing division. Doth my heart dare leap for joy? I feel that part of the reason the actual PUBLISHING aspect of Tokyopop has suffered so is that he has his baby now (Princess Ai) to the affect of forgetting to pick up the step children after school. I feel often that we've been left on the side of the road in the hopes that we'll either just disappear or somebody else will pick us up and adopt us.

Well, I didn't stick around long enough to find out if I'd be adopted. The last year and a half have been busy, and I can tell you it hasn't all been Tokyopop stuff. The good news is that in spite of this latest news and all the cutbacks, Tokyopop is still paying me to finish up Steady Beat even if it doesn't go to print. They're contractually obliged to do so.

And if it doesn't go to print? I'll just post it on my website and say it's advertising. I have 50% of the rights meaning we can BOTH utilize the property independently of each other, and there are no specifications of number of pages I may use in marketing my books.

And you know what? I haven't worked my ass off on what I consider the height of this series to let if flounder in the dust, sight unseen. In television production, they tell you that most studios won't even consider your work until you've produced at least 5-6 shows, and that's because they understand that there's a learning curve. Steady Beat 1 & 2 were what felt to me were my learning curve. I feel like Book 3 is the peak of this series with only better things to come in my other creative works. But that's just IMHO. I can honestly say, however, this is the first work I've produced that I've felt truly happy and confident about.

So what happens now? Well, I keep inking "Steady Beat 3". In spite of the dubiousness of whether or not it'll see print, I feel I owe it to not just my readers but myself to finish.

I would never leave a series incomplete.

Now, just for my readers, I've uploaded a segment of the raw pencils from the middle of the book. This chapter (and the one after it) is, to me, what the series is all about, and you can read it without spoiling the rest of the book. You've seen the story so far from Leah's side, but what about Sarai, the gay sister? What's it like when you've spent your whole life being what somebody else expects only to find that no matter what you do, you'll only end up disappointing them?

I give you,

And I stiiiiiiiiiiiiiiill need a scanner for my oversized inks.

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[User Picture]From: selphish
2008-06-04 09:08 pm (UTC)
God, your art has so much improved over the past few years, it's absolutely amazing.

Beautiful pages. Thank you so much for sharing.

Fingers crossed that book three makes it to print.
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[User Picture]From: starre257
2008-06-04 09:14 pm (UTC)
Wow... that's awesome. I also hope the book gets to be printed.
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[User Picture]From: d_morris
2008-06-04 09:18 pm (UTC)
I don't know if you're able to discuss this in public but is there any chance that the 50% of rights that you don't own will revert back to you in the near future or after a certain time if the third volume never gets published?
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[User Picture]From: d_morris
2008-06-04 09:20 pm (UTC)
I just ask because I think it would be shame that you work your ass off on something and it never sees the light of day.
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From: crispypoohs
2008-06-04 09:33 pm (UTC)
This looks stellar Rivkah~ The only way I could describe reading these pages would be like... a cinematic ride down a river? The things you chose to show and the way you show them are so cinematic, and you arrange them so well that there's a powerful visual flow -- it's fluid. Nice job~

I hope for you that something happens and somehow you're able to get back the rights to Steady Beat, like Tavisha and Rikki did with their older series. (granted, the contract on that probably expired or something, but I dunno -- somehow, that'd be cool). But yeah, I hope the best for you -- I would hate for them to not publish your work because of their own mismanagement. If you managed to finish it, they should manage to fucking print it.
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[User Picture]From: otakubarcode
2008-06-04 09:40 pm (UTC)
Beautiful pages and truly inspirational. Wow. you blow my mind. I cannot wait until volume 3....poor Sarai. I hope everything gets worked out and will be okay in the end.
As for the Tokyopop thing, it must be really scary to be working for them, they're a good company and do a lot of good things but right now (and even within the last few years) seem to be being a bit fickle and although I would love to get published one day myself ( as I've said several times ) I don't know if after knowing everything I know about them and their system if I could even willing submit one of my babies to them.
Good luck with everything and again, I cannot wait until volume 3 of Steady Beat. ^ ^
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[User Picture]From: goldfishhead
2008-06-04 09:56 pm (UTC)
Ah, you always have such imaginative and perpousful layouts. You realy use layout techniques to their full effect. I so admire that. (PS, in the extreemly unlikely event that you find yourself with spare time, I would consider trading my left arm for a tutorial or some pointers on your thought procces when you do layouts).

Also, thank you for, as always, giving such an honest and objective opinion from within the industry :). I rely on you, and a few others, to let me know whats realy going on.
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[User Picture]From: fuuringo
2008-06-04 10:12 pm (UTC)
Beautiful pages! It's so nice to see hand-lettering for a change, it seems more personalised. I've only read volume 1 so far but I can believe that you've come a long way. Your pencils are so clean! I'd say you wouldn't even have to ink these. ^^
Despite the gloomy prospects,I'm glad to hear you're resolved to finish Steady Beat 3. Huge best of luck!
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[User Picture]From: chrissydelk
2008-06-04 10:31 pm (UTC)
I'm really glad to hear you have a solid plan for Steady Beat 3 either way.
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[User Picture]From: tristantzara
2008-06-04 10:37 pm (UTC)
Wow, your draftsmanship is improving so much! I'm sure the third volume will be just as stunning as the second and first :)

It's kind of sad that Tokyopop is having the problems it's having. Even with their sometimes glaring problems, they've always been an ambitious and interesting publisher. They were one of the first major publishers to even have an agenda of publishing OEL, and I think that's pretty significant.

Plus, I'm sure any number of publishers would love to handle your work should your arrangements with Tokyopop conclude.
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[User Picture]From: tifaria
2008-06-04 10:54 pm (UTC)
That panel with Sarai standing alone, where she says "Oh.." broke my heart. There's such emotion in every panel of this, and your art has improved so much since the first volume. Thank you for sharing with us. I truly hope that SB3 does go to print.
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[User Picture]From: groundbyground
2008-06-04 10:59 pm (UTC)

(Stares in admiration)
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[User Picture]From: rosalarian
2008-06-04 11:11 pm (UTC)
It's always nice to see things in their rough stages. And oh, God! I've been waiting for this forever! It looks great.

The comic company I work for is going through some worrying stuff as well. It seems like all of a sudden, comic companies are going through a real upheaval.
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[User Picture]From: sxyblkmn
2008-06-05 01:23 am (UTC)
now that is some nice art riv
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[User Picture]From: kurishojo
2008-06-05 01:43 am (UTC)
Thanks for your inside insight on Tokyopop's current affairs. I'm thrilled to hear you still plan to remain so dedicated to your book and your fans. I can't wait to read Steady Beat 3, whether by purchase or online from you. Much appreciation for sharing these pages; they're heartbreaking in all the right ways, very well executed. Keep up the beautiful work!
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