Confirming a story that PW's Calvin Reid broke last month, Random House has announced that its Del Rey imprint will launch a manga line in Spring 2004, sourcing material from Japanese manga powerhouse Kodansha.  Four titles will launch simultaneously, with eight additional volumes to follow throughout the year.  All of the titles planned are for readers 13 and up; they'll be packaged in a right-to-left format.


Del Rey has named Dallas Middaugh, formerly sales and marketing director for Viz and most recently of Redshift (see 'Dallas Middaugh Forms Redshift'), as Director of Manga.  He will manage acquisitions, sales, and marketing for the program.  Middaugh had been rumored to be involved in this program for weeks, but he'd been unwilling to confirm the relationship until now.


We had a chance at Anime Expo to talk to Tokyopop COO John Parker, who responded in greater detail to the initial news of Random House's Kodansha relationship on behalf of Tokyopop (see 'Randam House Preps Manga Releases'), and the impact of the new manga line on Tokyopop's business.  He continued to express optimism about the future of the category with a major new player involved, and downplayed any impact on Tokyopop's ability to source new material.  He told us that less than one third of Tokyopop's output is sourced from Kodansha, and the company deals with over 40 licensors in Japan.  Powers also said that now that Tokyopop has established itself as a leader in the U.S. manga business, companies are approaching it and asking it to release titles in the U.S.  So even if the Kodansha relationship were to end, which he does not expect, finding plenty of new material is not a problem.