A word of warning for aspiring mangaka

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A word of warning for aspiring mangaka

Postby Aka-chan » Thu May 29, 2008 10:29 pm

Maybe you've heard, but the comics bloggers are all up in arms about Tokyopop's latest scheme. They've started the Shining Stars Program, where you create a pilot manga (you also have the option of submitting only a manuscript of the chapter rather than drawing the whole thing out) and they just might publish it for you or give you a series deal.

Sounds great, right? Except that the contract, despite being written in what seems to be an attempt at "kid-friendly" language, is really a pretty bad deal. As in, they'll retain rights to your story and characters no matter what, even if it really takes off, they can do whatever they want with your story and characters, and they can pay you next to nothing. Hardly the fulfillment of your dream of life as a mangaka.

I know we have a lot of people on this forum who love to draw and write, and Tokyopop's big name may seem like a big plus, but I wanted to get the word out there that it isn't worth it. There are lots of fairer and brighter deals out there for you.

Unfortunately, bloggers don't always have the cleanest language, so I'm only going to link to this entry (it was pretty clean), though that one also links to other blogs on this topic. (If you decide to brave the language and follow the links, I recommend Bryan Lee O'Malley's writeup--it does a good job of breaking down exactly what's so bad about this contract.)
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Aspiring manga-ka, beware

Postby Maledicte » Thu May 29, 2008 10:36 pm

...of Tokyopop's new Manga Pilot program. Despite it's hip, happenin' language it is not all fluffy bunnies. But hey, it's your decision...

Read the breakdown here* and the actual contract here.

*Sorry about the title of that article, folks D:
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Postby Nate » Thu May 29, 2008 10:40 pm

Unlike many other things you hear about online, this one is for real, and it's pretty terrible.

Bryan Lee O'Malley's LJ entry is really the best source to see how terrible this is. Though not particularly in-depth, here is a good example of how underhanded Tokyopop is regarding moral rights (which has nothing to do with right and wrong, moral rights means that if you create something you have the right to control the eventual fate of it).

So yeah. Don't buy into this scam.

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Postby Kurama » Thu May 29, 2008 10:48 pm

I do not get it to well, but thats just weird.
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Postby Lilac#18 » Thu May 29, 2008 10:57 pm

That's messed up how you can't have what you want on your manga. I know not to work there now.
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Postby Radical Dreamer » Thu May 29, 2008 11:02 pm

Moved to Manga Mania, but my gosh, that's insane. I hope no one actually goes for this.
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Postby EricTheFred » Thu May 29, 2008 11:03 pm

I'm not sure what the "beware" is for, exactly.

I read through this, and except that it is considerably more plain English than most publishing contracts I've seen, this is pretty much exactly what a typical fiction publisher's standard contract reads (except that some of them, such as Harlequin, will also try to sneak in moral rights to your name or pen name, and such, so they can take your series and published name away and give it to a ghost-writer if you get uppity. Always, always have a lawyer look over any publishing contract before signing!)

The only thing that I'm bothered by is the 'non-exclusive rights' thing. I need to read that again and figure out what they can really do with it. But, I don't think an unpublished writer is going to get much better of a contract than this from any publisher without having an agent on their side.
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Postby Radical Dreamer » Thu May 29, 2008 11:07 pm

Since both of these threads were made near the same time, I just merged the two; it's why the first few posts read strangely with each other. XD
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Postby Warrior4Christ » Fri May 30, 2008 4:45 am

Yeah.. it looks like there's potential for TP to be mean there.. and there's nothing you can legally do to stop them.

Heh, I just finished a law assignment in which we had to write our own legal mumbo-jumbo, so the "hip language" contract amused me.
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Postby LadyRushia » Fri May 30, 2008 9:15 am

I think it's more of a problem because the majority of people who would be signing up for this are kids who wouldn't know any better. Man, that really sucks. Anyone who wants to create manga would be better off doing it on their own.
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Postby Mave » Fri May 30, 2008 10:07 am

Well, this isn't nice. I was never quite fond of Tokyopop anyway.
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Postby soul alive » Fri May 30, 2008 10:35 am

Wow, just, wow. Not only is the thing written in the most intelligence insulting manner, but it's such a blatant attempt on TP's behalf to get OEL manga for more or less free.

I read through a couple of the analysis blogs last night, and my mind is just blown away. What a load of filth. Probably the things that bothered me the most were the "Frenchy-french and their silly moral contract" thing and the "if your story is in any way caught up in a legal battle, you, not us, are responsible for all legal fees and fines".

The sad thing is though, that there are kids out there who (a) don't know any better, (b) don't realize it's a good idea to have someone at least more knowledgeable, if not professionally qualified, look over the contract, (c) are so gung-ho to get their work published that they jump at the first deal presented because it looks like an offer they can't refuse, rather than one they can and should.

All the more reason to support your local webcomics.


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Postby Maledicte » Fri May 30, 2008 11:41 am

soul alive (post: 1231278) wrote:All the more reason to support your local webcomics.

*raises the roof*
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Postby oro! » Sat May 31, 2008 5:12 pm

I remember seeing those things on the shelves a few years ago; I am sorry for those people if the contract was the same. I thought it was a cool thing to see normal people getting published, but no. Apparently not.
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Postby Amzi Live » Sun Jun 01, 2008 2:22 pm

That's one dirty way of bursting the bubble of writing artists out there.
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Postby beau99 » Sun Jun 01, 2008 2:48 pm

[quote="oro! (post: 1231711)"]I remember seeing those things on the shelves a few years ago]

The same thing happens whether you're a kid or teenager doing something like this or you're an adult writing a memoir.

Publishers are greedy, end of story.
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Postby minakichan » Sat Jun 07, 2008 1:33 pm


Seriously, what is this weaksauce. The French came up with moral rights, and the French are all very silly, so let's just drop the idea altogether?

Moar reason to hate Tokyopop.

.....ACTUALLY, I was contemplating trying this a long time ago, but meh. Heheh.
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Postby Kintaro » Sat Jun 07, 2008 9:17 pm

Sweet more proof for me that Tokyopop is the lamest company ever.
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Postby mysngoeshere56 » Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:28 pm

Wow, thanks for the warning...

Haha, if I ever do anything to become a mangaka (which is something I would like to do - as an ametur though), I wouldn't want a deal like that.
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Postby minakichan » Thu Jun 12, 2008 5:03 pm

Well, it looks like Tokyopop is suffering to some extent anyway. They're cutting releases both here as well as in the UK, where their market share in graphic novels has fallen from 80-90% (!) to 50%, and Tokyopop's revenue has decreased even as the industry has been going up. Also, they made 39 layoffs recently (including the spokesperson editor for Rising Stars of Manga who actually contacted me o_O).

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