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Dark Horse Manga Panel with Editor Carl Horn at Rose City Comic Con

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To be honest, I’ve never been drawn to seek out manga titles. Once I read one volume of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service a few years go, but that is it. However, no one can deny the popularity and influence of manga in America. (Even as I write this, L’Oreal Paris has an advertisement on TV for its manga mascara.) It was about time I engaged with manga in a more meaningful way. Lucky for me “Dark Horse Manga: An Afternoon with Carl Horn” was included in RCCC programming.

Carl Horn is the Manga Editor at Dark Horse Comics. Dark Horse has been a leader for more than 25 years of delivering manga to American readers, second only to Viz Media. At this panel, Horn gave the audience the a lesson in company history as well as a glimpse into what Dark Horse has in store for fans this fall and winter. (Go here for an abridged version of the history of Dark Horse manga.)

Dark Horse Manga Editor, Carl Horn, talks shop at Rose City Comic Con.

Dark Horse Manga Editor, Carl Horn, talks shop at Rose City Comic Con.

The Dark Horse manga legacy begins in the 1980s with the title Mecha by Randy Stradley. Stradley was a fan of Gundam and wanted to bring that sensibility to comics in the US. From there the doors burst open for Dark Horse to bring in translated comics from Japan, engage directly with manga creators for original titles, and even have Dark Horse titles translated for readers in Japan securing their place in the top manga publishers today.

Horn ran down so many titles in the Dark Horse catalog: Godzilla, Outlander, Dirty Pair, Ghost in the Shell, Blade the Immortal, Lone Wolf and Cub, Akira, Super Manga Blast, Astro Boy, Tanko C’est Bon, and Vampire Hunter D . These are only a sampling of titles over 25 years. Even as a manga neophyte, I recognized many of these titles mostly because of their popular anime counterparts. In 2007, Dark Horse produced the last comic format manga. Now they are all published as “straight to graphic novel” form.

An Afternoon with Carl Horn

I got a history lesson at the Dark Horse Manga: An Afternoon with Carl Horn panel at Rose City Comic Con

A few ideas, titles, and creators stuck with me after listening to Carl Horn share his expertise for 50 minutes.

Oh My Goddess is the very popular and longest running manga at Dark Horse, which debuted in 1994. Oh My Goddess fans are loyal and very engaged. Horn remarked that he receives more fan mail for Oh My Goddess than any other DH manga title. This year is the 20th anniversary of Oh My Goddess—a testament to this title’s impact.

I was most interested in CLAMP, the four-person all-female creative team out of Japan. The team has been creating manga for 25 years. Dark Horse has published 10 of their titles, one example being Clover. Legal Drug is the latest from CLAMP. In 2015, Drug and Drop will be released through Dark Horse. I am interested in learning more about this creative team and hope their work might be a good jumping-in spot for me to engage in more manga. (I always like to support the female creators when their work looks interesting.)

Horn also gave us the details  a few recent releases on what’s on the horizon for Dark Horse Manga. Here are a few new and soon-to-be released titles:
New Lone Wolf and Cub—August 2014
• CLAMP’s Legal Drug—September 2014
• Satoshi Kon’s Opus—November 2014
• CLAMP’s Drug and Drop—January 2015
Seraphim 266613336 Wings written by Mamonu Oshii and drawn by Satoshi Kon— February 2015

Cover of Seraphim to be released in February 2015

Cover of Seraphim 266613336 Wings to be released in February 2015 (courtesy of Dark Horse Comics)

Horn showed the audience some preview pages from Seraphim. It looked like a really neat read. Horn mentioned that fans will see a lot of references to Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell throughout Seraphim. Those references were lost on me. But, panels of a little girl and a basset hound on an air craft carrier with overtones of religion, evolution, and conspiracy were enough to pique my interest.

If you want to keep up with manga news from Dark Horse, be sure to check out Manga Mondays and Manga Zone. This Dark Horse Manga Readers’ Guide has been a great source – find it here.

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