Twilight Manga Is Good for Comics. Also, Water Is Wet

twilight manga
Last week, EW.com reported that the Twilight series’ will get a comic book adaptation, to be published by Yen Press (sample illustration above). Korean artist Young Kim will provide the art, and Twilight’s author, Stephenie Meyer, is supposedly reviewing the comic panel by panel.

You can gauge general reactions by reading the comments on Entertainment Weekly’s post; for manga/comics fan reactions, see the comments at MangaBlog &  ANN. To boil it down: you’ve got excited Twilight fans, some comics fans who realize how great this is for Yen Press & manga/comics as a whole, some people moaning about Twilight’s quality, its fans, & its role in the destruction of culture, and plenty of people bitching about the art based on 1 or 2 panels.

From a bookseller’s perspective, though, this is pure BRILLIANT.

No matter how you feel about the series’ artistic merits, Twilight sells. Women of all ages (not just teenagers) are addicted to it (Lucy Knisley’s comic take is dead on). They buy Twilight from bookstores rather than online or the library, because they need those books right now. They pay for hardcovers because they can’t wait for the paperbacks. They come to the register with a 40% off coupon, and upon discovering that said coupon has expired, will still buy the books at full price, because again, they need them. And they will smile at you while they do it. They scare me (kidding! I love you all).

twilight posterMore to the point, Twilight fans buy the books AND related merchandise. At my store & most others, Twilight books are not just shelved in the YA fiction. Instead, the series has its own table, stocked with all the books, plus the branded t-shirts, key chains, Edward lunch boxes & action figures, jewelry, and any other vampire series staff can stick there. We even sold Twilight perfume at one point (it was blood-red and overpriced).

That’s why Twilight manga is such wonderful news for Yen Press, and consequently for comics. Unlike other manga publishers, Yen Press still offers high quality products for relatively low prices. It’s also one of the few publishers still taking risks, like licensing manhwa & manhua, adopting orphaned licenses like Yotsuba&!, and putting out OEL titles (Nightschool, Maximum Ride, etc). Its presence is vital to the manga industry.

So if, as ICV2 noted, printing Twilight manga is the closest publishers can come to printing money, then even Twilight haters benefit. Money from Twilight manga will subsidize the Cat Paradises of the Yen Press catalog, and everybody wins.

Twilight manga is also good news for manga, specifically shojo manga, and more specifically Viz’s Vampire Knight. Vampire Knight is already described as the manga version of Twilight; the series is a bestseller, too, so most bookstores have it in stock, making it easy to up-sell.

Whether or not other series or non-manga comics will benefit is less certain, but I think we’ll see a nice ripple effect as women (and maybe a few guys) learn how effective the comics medium can be. It’s ironic that a series cited for manga’s declining sales in 2008 should become manga’s white knight apparent, but there it is.

Even for those who hate Twilight (I confess, I read some book excerpts, saw the movie, then promptly gave up), the manga might be decent. Or at least, not terrible. Twilight’s plot & audience always seemed very shojo (during the last Boys Over Flowers craze, it was described as the Twilight of Asia), and a comic adaptation lacks both descriptions of Edward (“porcelain god”) and bad acting. We shall see.

edward bella manga
Read more: Melinda Beasi’s take at There It Is, Plain As Daylight; Johanna Carlson’s take at Comics Worth Reading; Deb Aoki’s take at manga.about.com; and an excellent roundtable on Twilight, SDCC, and gendered fandom snobbery at Robot 6.

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