Hi, everyone! I'm doing my first ever AMA (yay!) for 2 hours starting in a few minutes.

You can visit me at www.tokyopop.com or my Facebook (www.facebook.com/stulevy) or my Twitter (www.twitter.com/stulevy). I will have a website soon too (www.stulevy.com).

Here's my proof: https://www.flickr.com/photos/milkyworld/13345650423/

Hopefully I can help you with answers to questions, especially about manga/anime/Japan/Asia/filmmaking/food/endurance sports :-)

UPDATE: these 2 hours flew by, and I'm glad you guys visited and asked questions. This was fun - I'll do it again!! Please feel free to visit www.tokyopop.com and our social media if you have other questions. Cheers!

Comments: 53 • Responses: 22  • Date: 

bsus141210 karma

Hello. I have been a long-time supporter of Tokyopop manga with a collection of over 1100 manga volumes to date and want to get into the manga industry helping to bring titles to the U.S. Because of this, I have a few questions for you.

1)How did Tokyopop acquire the titles they chose to import? What factors lead to the selection of those particular titles? I am speaking from titles such as King of Bandits Jing (a very underrated yet excellent manga series) to ones that are more well-known. 2) How did Tokyopop establish itself as one of the most well-known manga distribution companies today? By that, I mean what, in your opinion, was the biggest marketing strategy used to distinguish Tokyopop from its competitors? 3) How do you see digital manga as an instrument for changing the way fans from around the world access new titles? I hope you will forgive me for asking such probing questions, but I am anxious to work in a marketing position that will hopefully enable me to help get more anime and manga series out there to American fans. I already am starting to get involved with anime translation work, but I have goals of expanding my reach in this field.

stulevy12 karma

Hi, and thanks for supporting! Your collection sounds amazing!

So, here are some answers:

(1) in the beginning, it was me in my tiny apartment in Japan, reading manga and going with what I enjoyed the most (assuming the companies would license them to me). As the company grew, it turned into a committee, with editors making recommendations, and licensing people negotiating deals. I couldn't sit around reading manga anymore with a legit business excuse :-(

(2) I think when we started to brand TOKYOPOP with consistent covers across our titles, a uniform format, in-store displays, and other marketing approaches that had not been done yet in books - that really helped a lot. Oh, and of course amazing manga!

(3) I believe the future is digital. Certainly, paper will always have its fans, since for those of us (especially of a certain age) who grew up with it, nothing will replace it. But for the younger generation, the convenience, immediacy and organic nature of digital is key.

I hope this answers your questions - and best of luck to you! Ganbatte!!

bsus14122 karma

This definitely helps me in where I want to focus on in my goals for work in these companies. There are a lot of venues for series, but quite a bit of them would have to be imported in niche distributors. I can imagine series like Bartender being served mostly to adults, but for video-game bass series or for more fantasy ones that have a short run, Tokyopop's focus seems to align with the kinds of ones that I want to help distribute.

stulevy2 karma

You're certainly thinking the right way. In my opinion, the question is how to make the shift to organic digital publishing. I think that's the real future. I'm thinking of a number of ideas - hopefully the timing will work out right. Vid-game related series are perfect for that medium.

bsus14121 karma

Dark Horse is moving along in that direction as well, though other sellers are having varying levels of success. I am currently thinking about how to implement the work of companies like Broccoli Books ( a one-time manga publisher that had a modicum of success) into digital manga as my tentative future plan.

stulevy3 karma

Good idea! Broccoli did a good job with their stuff. There are many titles that have disappeared. Also, the Japanese companies are all considering doing digital publishing themselves from Japan.

Ban4nn48 karma

Why was manga publishing in the US ceased?

stulevy14 karma

In early 2011, our #1 company Borders went bankrupted and liquidated. They owed us close to $1 MM and didn't pay a dime. Further, with Borders gone, we overnight lost 1/3 of our sales on all titles (since they were 1/3 of our market). Our company operated with very tight profit margins, so we were unable to sustain the impact of that double-whammy and needed to close down our LA publishing office, in order to pay our creditors.

Overall, I believe the disruption of book publishing is similar to what already happened in music and what is happening in film. Barnes & Noble will most likely not last for too many years either, and almost all books will either be purchased at boutique shops that are managed via the passion of the owner, or Amazon. It's certainly not the direction I wanted for the American market, but it's a societal trend that is unstoppable - technology disrupts all industries and takes no prisoners.

Hope this answers your question - thank you for asking!

Ban4nn42 karma

Will all TokyoPop be online only soon, as music has gone, or should I still keep searching for print copies?

stulevy9 karma

We provide POD (Print-on-Demand) copies of the books we have rights to (via RightStuf.com) and will continue to do so as long as there is demand. We are also considering working closer with Amazon.

Print is still a preference for many people - but the retail book distribution system is challenging nowadays. Comic book shop owners are doing an incredible job - and hopefully they will consider manga too.

Ban4nn46 karma

Amazon, oh please Amazon. My local comic shops are very....superhero based. And Amazon would expand your market too.

stulevy3 karma

Got it - okay will definitely take this advice very seriously. Thanks!

ItsScubaSteve6 karma

Any crazy stories involving Tokyopop you can share?

stulevy18 karma

There are many but here's a crazy one:

Back around 2005 or so, we brought Fujisawa-sensei (GTO creator) to San Diego Comicon.

It was Saturday night, so I wanted to take him down to Tijuana for some partying. We brought his editor, an international person from Kodansha, and himself, along with a few of us TP crew. Well, we had an awesome time, drinking, partying, generally having fun and getting crazy. At the end of the night, around 3 AM, we headed to the border and Fujisawa-san realized he didn't have his duffel bag. He left it at a bar! We went back looking for it, but of course it was gone. And the worst part? His passport was inside!

So, we spent the next 5 hours on the streets of Mexico, waiting for the US border crossing admin offices to open. Then it finally did and we had to wait in line for hours. When we got there, they said he had to fly to Mexico City to get a waiver from the Japan embassy. Well, he was scheduled to do signings that day! Luckily, we talked them out of it, and they granted temporary permission to cross. Whew, we barely made it to the signings.

I'll never forget that night!!

stulevy6 karma

Thanks to all of you who participated in my first-ever Reddit AMA!

I know it's late at night, especially on the East coast - the time difference (I'm out in Asia) makes it difficult, so I appreciate your understanding.

In summary, anime and manga (as well as Asian pop culture overall) has come a long way since I first started digging into it over 20 years ago. I'm glad to have been a part of bringing it to the West - and am thrilled to see many others like yourselves keeping the torch burning. Hopefully in the future you'll enjoy the various projects I launch - I love trying new things, some work and some don't, but it's the journey that counts.



WealthyBigWang6 karma

What's the best thing about Japan to you personally?

stulevy6 karma

Tough question since I love so many things about Japan. I guess I could cheat and say "the culture" since that includes so many aspects of what I love. But, even though I love the people, the environment, the entertainment, the history, I'd probably have to choose the FOOD if I was forced to narrow it down. Man, I love the food there!!!

_Riven5 karma

What is your goal for TokyoPop now. Seeing as how CrunchyRoll basically flagshiped and organaized anime in the west and made it easier for everyone to watch quality HD content.

stulevy5 karma

I think Crunchy Roll has done an amazing job. Perhaps at some point TOKYOPOP could have played that role, but we were more manga than anime throughout our history. Funimation or perhaps the old ADV could have done what Crunchy Roll did, but technology disrupts, and entrepreneurs innovate, and that's what Crunchy did.

For me, I like to create something from nothing, as well as to realize the potential in underserved areas. TOKYOPOP will always be about encouraging people to discover new, exciting stories, and bridging cultures. That will never change.

leodown04 karma

Do you read a lot of the manga that your company publishes and how awesome is your job

stulevy5 karma

Oh, I'm noticing the part of your question about reading manga that we publish. In the beginning I read everything but then it got to the point where there was too much to read it all. I miss the days where I literally sat around and read manga half the day :-)

stulevy4 karma

LOL I'm a lucky guy to have it. Honestly, though, there are tons of challenges and lots of stress too - but I get to meet amazing people throughout the world, and that's what I love!

Triplecpros4 karma

What is your single most indispensable piece of equipment?

stulevy7 karma

Definitely the Internet (I'm trying to cover both my phone and computer in one - hence, the "Internet"). Honestly, I'm pretty much a tech geek :-)

Triplecpros4 karma

And also When are you going to go after Stephen Kings Dark Tower series as the proper Anime it needs to be?

stulevy8 karma

Oh, wow, that would be AMAZING, wouldn't it? You're tempting me :-)

Wrestlingisgood3 karma

Any plans for more FMW dvds?

stulevy2 karma

FMW!! Well, since the league dissipated in Japan, we don't have access to any more materials unfortunately, but I'm considering putting the existing DVDs online. Do you think wrestling fans will be interested?

MsGeek7033 karma

Hi, Stu...

You have two properties, Bizenghast and Riding Shotgun, that are going through the crowdfunding process. What are the good and bad points about crowdfunding?

stulevy2 karma

Hi MsGeek!! Well, crowdfunding isn't easy, and is quite hit or miss, but in general I think it's a very healthy experience. It helps you organize your vision for a project, and to reach out to supporters and fans.

For Riding Shotgun (shameless plug: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/riding-shotgun-the-animated-series) we chose IndieGoGo which has been a bit more difficult to use than Kickstarter, but the good thing about IndieGoGo is that we are able to use the funds we raise, even if we do not reach our goal. But I think it's important to be very clear on the use of the funds - and to offer a refund if the goal is not reached. Riding Shotgun is a great animation project - hopefully people will check it out!

Bizenghast is being handled by a new game developer, Cosmic Forces. They are creating an exciting adventure game for the manga, and I hope it works out. A lot of fans have supported it so far, but they need many more to make it happen. Here's that link for those who want to see what they're up to:


In general, I encourage people to try a crowdfunding campaign, and to not be disappointed if it doesn't work out since it's a great experience overall.

Thanks for your question!

Marxaganis23 karma

Hello how does an American get started in making anime? Do I have to be in Japan?

stulevy2 karma

Hi Marxaganis2! Well, making anime is much more complicated than making manga, although both are very challenging. The reason why anime is more complicated is that it's typically a collaboration between a team of people. Of course, it is indeed possible to make anime as a solo artist, but it will take quite a long time since you have to not only draw the characters and backgrounds yourself, you need to actually animate them - whether using animation software or the old-fashioned way of drawing key frames. You can create anime anywhere in the world but if you want to work on a big anime project, you should hone your skills and spend time in Japan to meet the anime companies. It's a long road, so it requires true commitment and determination, as well as talent! If you decide to pursue it, I wish you the best - don't give up!

Morelldigital2 karma

After Toonami, Tokyo pop was my bridge to the anime world, thank you! Its awesome your into filmmaking, whats your take on animes to live action? Theres only a dozen handful of good ones and plenty of bad ones cough Dragon Ball Evolution cough. Marvel Comics is doing a good job with there live action, animes/manga deserves some too. I'm a filmmaker too and I just did my first conversion, I'll message you on Facebook of my latest film if you would like to team up on a project that would be epic beyond words!!

stulevy1 karma

Adapting a successful anime or manga into a live-action film is very challenging. There are many hurdles to overcome but I believe the most important issue is how to stay true to the essence of the source material's magic. This may not mean plot but it certainly means tone, characters and aesthetic, as well as overall theme. Yes, the bad ones stand out, and we all despise them. I think those filmmakers didn't pay attention to the source material. If one does not have true love for the source material, I think the adaptation will, frankly, suck. But even with love, the execution is difficult. But we have to keep trying!

Sure, ping me on FB and let me learn more about you! No matter what - don't give up and keep your dreams alive!!

drickdragon1 karma

Stu, I'm a big fan of yours and Tokyopop ever since college. When I heard Tokyopop was starting again and heard what your vision is for the company gave me hope that manga/anime industry in america has a chance to strive. I have seen your film pray for japan at otakon 2012 and it was a piece of art and inspiring . How is your current project battle vixens going for you and what do you think of the current live action ruroni kenshin that is currently out and the second film in production?

stulevy1 karma

Hi, drickdragon, thanks for the kind words!! "Pray for Japan" is obviously near and dear to my heart so it's particularly nice to know that you saw it and it touched you as well.

"Battle Vixens" is going great! We have an incredible director (Leo Kei Angelos) who I believe very much in. We cut a concept trailer that we'll be releasing online soon - and I believe we'll have our funding and distribution this year, so we can go into production early next year. It's a completely original script at this point, so no real association with Ikki Tousen, but still should be a fun story!

I personally really enjoyed the live-action version of Kenshin - it had great action, a lively pace and excellent production design and cinematography. Hopefully the upcoming Lupin the 3rd (directed by Ryuhei Kitamura) will be as good as Kenshin!

Thanks again for your comment and questions!

EgonIsGod1 karma

Oh hey. My girlfriend's uncle worked with you on a YA serial back in 2007. You're good people.

stulevy1 karma

Oh, nice! Thanks for your kind words! I wonder who it is...

EgonIsGod2 karma

Well, my girlfriend stalks me, but since I don't think there's anything linking our accounts I think it's probably safe. Dan Jolley. He did Alex Unlimited. Probably some other stuff, but those are the only ones he showed me.

stulevy1 karma

Ah, gotcha - yeah Dan is a very talented writer! (and it's not bad to have a girlfriend who stalks you as long as you enjoy it LOL)

RogueCassette1 karma

Hey just wanted to say thanks for bringing such a great piece of Japanese culture over to North America and giving us a way of supporting the makers and industry in a legal way. Keep up the great work!

stulevy2 karma

Thanks for your kind words, RogueCassette - and for supporting our art form!!