While the name of the company that brings "Attack On Titan" to America is technically called Kodansha Comics USA, the publisher has mostly been a house to reprint manga volumes from their popular parent company. But this fall, Kodansha will step into all-original U.S. comics with the new "Attack On Titan Anthology."
Inspired by the original series written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama, the anthology will feature stories of the Titan world as told by Western artists like Scott Snyder, Gail Simone, Faith Erin Hicks, Kevin Wada, Kate Leth, Evan Dorkin, Paolo Rivera and the current "Batgirl" team of Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr. Representatives from the publisher were on hand to share a first look at the hardcover volume as well as the full breadth of the Kodansha line. Director of publishing Ben Applegate MC'd the proceedings alongside his "Anthology" co-editor Jeanine Schaefer and writer Jody Houser, writer of Valiant's "Faith" and the "Orphan Black" series who will be joining the "Attack" project.
The panel started out with a rundown of incoming manga from the publisher. Highlights include the "Fruits Basket"-esque "That Wolf-Boy Is Mine" that tells the take of doomed romance between a girl and a boy who, well, turns into a wolf. There's also the popular "Parasyte" which has its own show on Toonami. The new volume "Neo Parasyte F" is a representation of an anthology from the '90s that mixes shoujo manga and horror stories together. For another side of manga, there's "the Ghost and the Lady" a classic two-volume manga that tells an alternate horror story starring a fictionalized Florence Nightingale.
"We were able to get a lot of people who were huge fans of the series," Schaefer said. The company handed out trading cards highlighting the work from inside the book, but Applegate also showed off a two-page spread from Michael Avon Oeming's story in the piece. That story focuses on many new characters to the world, but it also includes popular characters including Levi. Oeming's is one of the stories from the anthology that will appear in the Free Comic Book Day preview of the project.
The story from the "Batgirl" team takes place in a popular fan destination: the lobby of the hotel where Atlanta's Dragon*Con is held. And on the other end of the spectrum is a frightening tale from brothers Tomer and Asaf Hanuka. For yet a third take, Dorkin is turning in violent and crazy gag scripts in the form of newspaper comics – but with more swearing.
The panel then announced other new contributors to the project. Aside from Houser, artist Phil Jimenez will be drawing the story written by Gail Simone.
Houser spoke to her story, which takes place before the opening volume of the manga. It's about a hunt for art after a collector is killed by the Titans, but as the writer explains, the story becomes about what people look to in art to help them through troubled times. "The main story is focused on the combat and military kind of thing," the writer said. "This is more about the other people in the everyday world."
The panel spoke to the origins of the project, saying that Kodansha in Japan has been paying attention to the surge of manga interest in America and wants to make more product that will appeal first to Western audiences. So far, the company has invited American artists to do covers and other special art for manga volumes, but when the USA branch of the company brought up the idea for a Western-created anthology, everyone got on board. Hajime Isayama in particular is a huge fan of Western pop culture and wanted other creators to take a shot at his world.
Schaefer said that the relationship between American and Japan has been great, and she was surprised how much leeway they were given to play with the core cast of the main manga series. "It's going to create a cohesive book that fans are going to love," she said.
All in all, the book will present 16 stories along with many different pinups – all in full color.