The big news for manga readers this week is that Rumiko Takahashi ‘s new manga, Rin-ne, will be simultaneously published in the U.S. and Japanâ€”and the English version will be published online for free. Viz, Takahashi’s U.S. publisher, has set up a special website, TheRumicWorld.com, for the manga. New installments will be released weekly. At Talk About Comics, Joey Manley applauds Viz’s choice to go with a free online comic, rather than trying to charge for the comic itself, although he’s waiting to see just how it is implemented.
Takahashi’s previous manga (InuYasha, Ranma 1/2, Maison Ikkoku) have a big following, and Viz is probably trying to get ahead of the inevitable scanlations. The manga may be free, but the site also sells books and other Takahashi merchâ€”just like a real webcomics site!
Until recently, Japanese publishers have not been very interested in digital rights. The advent of cell phone manga plus tough times in the publishing world have changed that. Over in Japan, creator Shuho Sato recently announced that he will post his manga, New Say Hello to Black Jack, online one month after it appears in print. Viewers must pay a fee to read it. Sato claims that he actually loses money on his manga when it is published in a magazine, so he is hoping to suppement his income with webcomics. Another Japanese creator, Kazuo Koike, is also going the digital route with his most recent Lone Wolf and Cub series, which is now being published in eBook Japan’s web magazine Katana.