USA Today got on the manga story in a big way on Wednesday, with an above-the-fold illustrated story on page 1 of the Life section and another illustrated story on the back page of the section. Headlined 'Girls get their 'shojo' working in comic book shops,' the lead article in the section featured cover illustrations of Del Rey's Tsubasa and Viz' Boys over Flowers and quotes such industry experts as Tokyopop's Steve Kleckner, Golden Apple's Bill Liebowitz, and ICv2's Milton Griepp.
The article calls manga 'the fastest-growing segment of the publishing industry,' and cites the backpack-friendly size, the back-to-front format, low price, wide distribution, and content different from American comics as sales drivers.
The article also cites Viz' association with Simon and Schuster (see 'Viz Leaves PGW, Goes to Simon & Schuster'), Del Rey's manga launch (see 'Del Rey's Manga Line Launches Strong'), and Tokyopop's TV advertising (see 'Tokyopop Plans TV Ads for Manga') as 'More evidence manga has made it.'
The article wraps up with retailer Bill Liebowitz's bon mots. 'It's like rap music, first dismissed as a trend,' says Liebowitz. 'It's gone well beyond a passing fad.'
The article on the Life section back cover is an illustrated profile of six titles, with creative teams, price, publisher, price, and plot synopsis, sample dialogue, and cover illo. The six titles are xxxHolic (Del Rey), Alice 19th (Viz), Guardian Angel Getten (Raijin), Oh My Goddess! (Dark Horse), Boys Over Flowers (Viz), and Fruits Basket (Tokyopop).