Kayarath’s Adventures In Going Vertigo

Posted on Jun 13 2013

Kayarath's Adventures In Going Vertigo

What part of your job was to literally read manga? Wouldn’t that be a dream job? This isn’t some ridiculous thing I made up either! There’s an actual guy who does just that! His name is Ed Chavez and he works for Vertical Press. I recently had the honor of meeting and interviewing him at AnimeNEXT…

Kayarath: Who are you and what’s Vertical Press?

Ed Chavez: My name is Ed Chavez and I’m the marketing director for Vertical. Vertical is a publisher of Japanese content. We do a little bit more then just manga. We publish Japanese novels, cookbooks, craft books, and art books into English and we’ve been doing that for ten years now.

K: For a person unfamiliar with your works, what would you recommend they start out with?

EC: There’s plenty for people to test out but I would possibly say they start out with a title like Osamu Tezuka’s “Buddha” which is our most recognized manga. Outside of that, maybe “Chi’s Sweet Home.” That is something that is accessible to everybody. It’s for all ages as well. Those would be two good recommendations.

K: What’s your personal favorite and why?

EC: My personal favorite is possibly “Sakuran” by Moyoco Anno. The reason that I like it is that it’s a gorgeous comic to start and on top of that it’s a story that is rarely seen outside of Japan and actually not even discussed all that often in Japan. It’s about the realm of Geisha and it’s told from a very honest, very brutally honest perspective. Not pulling back punches about how harsh that world has been historically.

A golden cage is still a cage after all...

A golden cage is still a cage after all…

K: Can you tell me more about the manga “Paradise Kiss?”

EC: “Paradise Kiss” is a tale by Ai Yazawa. It’s a Josei work, so it’s a comic written for women by women. In this case though it’s not very erotic. It’s a high school romantic that focuses on the world of fashion and youths trying to develop a fashion line. There’s great art, interesting characters, and some really good romance. Our edition is a little different from what’s been seen from previous editions. It’s got a new translation, new cover design, color pages, and a larger trim size. You got a pretty nice little package for what you get with the Vertical “Paradise Kiss.”

K: Let’s drop the big questions; Piracy! Love it? Hate it? How do you deal with it? Can you deal with it?

EC: Uh, okay. Do I love it? I don’t use it, I guess I’m ambivalent towards it. Do I hate it? I don’t really care about it. I don’t need it. I read Japanese fine; I publish books into English. It doesn’t help the industry, it doesn’t help with marketing. It does take money out of author’s pockets which is not a good thing. But I understand how piracy is something that some people have turned to because they can’t access things. Is it immoral? Absolutely! Is it something that I’m gonna personally go knocking down on people’s doors to stop? No, ’cause I can’t. It’s gonna keep on happening.

K: You said you published more then manga. Can you provide some examples?

EC: We do a lot of novels. For example, we are the publisher of “The Ring” series which was adapted into a number of movies in the west. Those are written by Koji Suzuki so we publish “Ring”, “Spiral”, and “Loop”, as well as his short story collection called “Dark Water.” Actually we have around sixty other novels that’s gonna take a while to list out. Some works that recently came out are “Fallout” which is actually set in the U.S. It’s about nuclear terrorism in the United States. There’s another book called “Body”; it’s short stories about self image written by Asa Nonami. In the summer we’re gonna release a novel called “A Dog in Water”. It’s a crime fiction work about a detective who’s taking on his very last job. He’s willing to go to the extremes and even die on the job to finally solve a murder mystery.

Speaking of horror, they also publish the novels that inspired this game!

Speaking of horror, they also publish the novels that inspired this game!

K: You guys hit the convention scene fairly hard. Is there a heartwarming/horror story that you would like to share?

EC: I’m not sure about horror stories. I haven’t seen anything that bad on the con floor, thank goodness. Heartwarming? You know, I had a lot of people bring me gifts. At many cons people ask me for autographs even though I don’t draw any of these things. I just publish and translate some of these books. I think that’s really, really nice that people not only recognize and buy our books but also try to express their feelings for the people who are working on the books in English. That’s very sweet. I’m sure the publishers get it but I don’t know if many individuals get to experience that in this industry. I’ve been very touched and blessed.

K: How is working with the Japanese companies? Is it difficult? Easy?

EC: It’s always a challenge. Every relationship is always a challenge in my opinion so it’s not always gonna be smooth sailing. There’s always gonna be a lot of compromise, a lot of give and take but working with Japanese publishers in general is easy.

Note: The whole process is actually quite deeper then most of us would expect. In fact, it would take a whole panel just to understand the basics of it all. Luckily, Ed Chavez has just the panel for that occasion called, “Manga: Licensing, Acquisitions, and Publishing.” It’s a multi-step process that requires time, money, and negotiations. If you really want to know more, go to that panel.

K: During your panel, you said you have a lot of women on staff. That’s not a shock considering anime and manga are so female friendly. What are your thoughts on this?

EC: I think it’s just a lot of the content is made by women for women. On top of that, we’re a publishing company so the majority of people who work in American publishing tend to be women to begin with so that’s not a surprise. I think it’s a little bit weird for people who know of the Vertical brand and it might be not what they expect. We don’t necessarily release a lot of content specifiably for women, at least on the manga side. On the other side (novels and traditional books) we do craft books, cook books, children books, and things like that. Those things are geared towards both genders and a boarder audience. Most fans don’t consider that side of Vertical so that’s a thing I have to remind people about.

Talking about wine, they also sell a manga about it!

Talking about wine, they also sell a manga about it!

K: Is there a question you ever wanted a reporter to ask you?

EC: Uhh, wow. I guess there are? Someone wanted to ask me what my favorite meal was or, like, what I like to drink or what my favorite baseball team is. I don’t know. All those things would be fun I guess. Maybe the answer is no or I’m not sure. I’ll have to think about that one.

K: Lastly, where can people go to buy your stuff?

EC: You can go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble. You can also find all of our books at Right Stuff. Books A Million carries many of our books. If you’re looking for our manga, you can pre-order our books at all of the local comic shops that work with Diamond Comics.

K: Awesome. Thank you very much.

While reading manga for a living does sound sweet, I would like to note that it’s only a small part of his job and that Sturgeon’s law does apply. If you want to get an in depth look at the manga publishing industry, chat with Ed Chavez at a convention or attend some of Vertical’s panels. They’ll be at AnimeNEXT 2014! If you’re interested in reading beyond the Shonen and Shojo stereotypes, then check out Vertical’s catalog. I sure will.

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