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.