Friday, May 28, 2010

CMX Take 2

I decided to post my latest thoughts on the CMX line in a new post since the last one was getting long enough already. Since the announcement, I've been doing a lot of looking around, both online & offline, trying to find which CMX titles were worth reading. I've already ordered the rest of Cipher, Moon Child & Astral Project. No easy feat, since DC's gone to the trouble to erase all proof of their existence upon proclamation of dissolution.

The moderator of MangaBlog even coined my point of irony: It would be ironic if their sales went up now that DC has shut them down.

While looking up various titles, I found a 2008 link that worried that the CMX line might go the way of the Dodo since the Minx line was just canceled. It's particularly noticeable for its title, "Please Save My CMX!", and the list of various favorite Manga titles. One particular quote stuck out for me:

"The one thing I learned at the CMX panel at San Diego Comic Con is that CMX titles are largely at the whim of their buyer. She solicits the manga she enjoys. I think that explains a lot of their catalog of older shojo/josei title. It’s all the work of one woman’s taste. I think she is the core audience."

The fact that the majority of the CMX line was at the mercy of one lone woman is rather astonishing, I think. It's just too bad her tastes weren't posted on a gossip mill - other women might've wanted to compare & give their feedback on which titles they liked & disliked. As Christopher Butcher said, there was a lot of wasted potential.

Part of the problem with the CMX line was similar to what plagued the Raijin line - it was never quite clear as to what audience - if any - they were aimed at. There were titles aimed at the younger age set, the teenage set, and the adult set. But they were all painted with the same CMX brush. Giving an age-apropriate rating wasn't enough - it would be more useful if they were categorized in such a way that made sense. Even Viz & TokyoPop's titles are easy enough to figure out by looking at the covers alone. But CMX's titles didn't have that luxury - the buying public had to do their homework themselves, and who wants to go to that trouble?

Another element was that many of their releases were spread out. Looking at a spreadsheet on the AnimeOnDvd forums, it wasn't unusual for a Manga to be released 4 months in between. When other companies were releasing volumes every two or three months, 4 months is an infinity. I just checked the releases of the last two Swan volumes, and they were 10 months apart! (5/19/2009 and 3/9/2010) Hell, Eroica was producing new volumes yearly by now. (7/9/2008 and 7/21/2009 for vols. 13 & 14 respectively) They could've eluded the Goldfish Memory symptom by releasing an anthology book/magazine of various worthwhile comics to an unsuspecting public on - oh say, Free Comic Book Day. That is, if they'd even remembered the Manga line existed.

Thanks to doing some personal browsing myself (I can deduce by looking at the rhythm of the interior pages whether it's worth picking up) I was able to narrow my choices to several titles. There's still a few that I'm still on the fence about buying, but that might change once I find out more information.

Go West! by Yu Yagami (4 Vols)
Oyayubi-hime Infinity by Toru Fujieda (6 Vols)
Presents (3 Vols)
Steel Fist Riku by Jyutaroh Nishino (3 Vols)

What would be immensely helpful would be to read more short reviews of the most noteworthy CMX Mangas, including the underapprecated ones. I was only able to find out about Steel Fist Riku, thanks to this link. This post at the Newsarama Blog was particularly helpful, though I pointed out one series I found:

In addition to the short titles you’ve mentioned, I’d like to add Go West! by Yu Yagami to the list as well. It’s a Western in the same vein that Et Cetera was, only with less fantasy elements in it. A girl travels to the Wild Wild West, and confronts a horse that’s basically a stubborn (Seussian) Zak – it only races towards ONE particular direction – towards the West. Eventually, she manages to tame it enough for it to let her ride his saddle.
Of course, “tame” is too strong a word – more likely the horse is just letting her enjoy the ride while he continues his obsessive destination West. That’s the gist I got from the first chapter alone, and looks kinda fun.

It’s a quick read – only 4 volumes.
You can find more CMX titles here, which is more comprehensive than the Wiki, which for some reason doesn’t have entries for all the Manga titles. (There’s even a few missing)

There's another aspect of the CMX line that's only been touched on briefly - that it can take some time before a title starts to get really good. If the first few volumes don't hit that sweet spot, there's not that much incentive to try again. That was the problem I had with a certain Manga - there were quite a lot of characters introduced at once, and it was hard trying to keep track of who I should keep my eye on. As a result, I ended up wasting more energy trying to keep track of the cast rather than the story.

In the middle of the night, while dealing with a sudden bout of insomnia, I decided to read the 3rd volume of Swan. I only meant to read a few pages, sure that I would eventually grow bored, but I wound up reading the whole book. The first two volumes had previously put me to sleep, but it was this volume that I found had an intensity similar to The Glass Mask, that reminded me what I liked about Old-School Shojo. After that, I grew increasingly nervous & excited about the prospect of having to shell out more money to read the rest of what was available. I'd already ordered $150 worth of books, and now faced the prospect of ordering even more reading material.

Eventually, I was able to calm down enough once I'd figured out the final costs & deductions out of my paycheck. Still, this meant that I wouldn't be able to purchase my personal Wii for another three months or so. (Especially if I wanted to order other CMX Mangas)

The sad thing was, originally, I'd planned to purchase the rest of Swan, once I was sure that CMX had published the entirety of the series with no room for cancelation. I'd gotten vols. 1-3 for sale second-hand ages ago, and only thought to read the third volume recently. It's really a shame - the 3rd book was just languishing on my bathroom shelf for months just waiting to be read. At this rate, I might even have to reconsider my position of From Eroica with Love as well.

Just to rub salt in the wound, Mike Sterling had this to say:
This new CMX book sounds pretty good. Can’t wait for future installments!

AAUGH!! You just had to drive that stake in the wedge didn’t you? On the plus (minus?) side, I’m picking up PLENTY of CMX titles I would’ve otherwise ignored. Hopefully, there’ll be enough lifeblood of demand for more volumes if the outcry is loud enough.

That's what we should do - create enough noise that Fantagraphics might want to think about completing the series where CMX left off. Hell, they can even hire the same people who were just left off, if there's an opening, and they've got nowhere else to go.

In the meantime, I'm going to be doing some serious Manga binging for the next several weeks. The difference being that instead of purging, I'm going to be wallowing in bliss of what I've just read. (Unless what I've read wasn't that good, then I'm going to spend some time over the toilet, bemoaning my lost of time & money)


  1. I feel your pain. Stealth marketing just doesn't work.

    I posted my own list of one sentence impressions of the CMX titles I enjoyed. It may be of use to you in your quest to find good series you may have overlooked (or never known about in the first place due to said stealth marketing).

    This is so sad and frustrating.

  2. Hi, Daniel -- I was the host of the "Please Save My CMX!" roundtable you quote above, and not surprisingly, I agree with many of the points you raise in this essay. CMX seemed to be on shaky ground back in 2008, so I can't say I was really surprised when DC finally pulled the plug on it last month. If you're having trouble tracking down volumes of Swan or Moon Child, you might try eBay,, Thing From Another World, or Robert's Anime Corner Store, my go-to places when Amazon or Right Stuf! doesn't have the books I want.

    Two quick thoughts: first, just be careful of using the word "gossip" when talking about how women communicate. From reading your blog, I know you're not sexist -- you're man enough to like Swan! -- but the word "gossip" can have a dismissive, unpleasant connotation. I think what you were trying to say is that it might have been helpful if CMX had tried other outlets for telling female readers about their books (e.g. women's magazines, websites aimed at female readers, mother's forums).

    Second, it's not so uncommon for a single person to be in charge of licensing at a small company. To some extent, the licensing choices of Go! Comi, Drama Queen, and other small-to-mid-size publishers reflected the taste of whoever was acquiring the books. I think the real problem is one that you identify very clearly and forcefully in your essay: CMX didn't do anything to distinguish the kids' titles from the josei or the horror.

    BTW, I wanted to say how much I enjoyed your Garfield/What's Michael mash-up. It's been a big hit with folks visiting my blog, too. Let me know if you do a follow-up cartoon -- I'd really like to see it!

  3. Maybe Gossip wasn't the best word to use - buzz might have been more gender-neutral, but I figured something that would get women talking about what they read would fall along those lines.

    Regarding the Manga Garfield, that's not the only one that'll show up so far. I've got two more comics that continue where the first one left off, showing exactly WHY it was left out of the Dark Horse collection. There's also going to be a Manga Nermal version, which should be obvious once you think about it. Of course, since it takes about 3 months or so for out submissions to show up, it might take awhile before you get to see it.

    Rest assured - when they show up, I'll be sure to let the blogosphere know. If you're feeling impatient to know more, you now know how I felt when I was waiting for my comic to appear.

    (I'm an evil EVIL man)

  4. I look forward to seeing your latest mash-ups, Daniel, and will keep an eye out for them! Let's hope they inspire some interest at Dark Horse, too -- it would be great to see them rescue What's Michael from licensing limbo.

  5. Didn't know how else to contact you, but the rest of the Manga Garfield just went up today. However, it was a long time coming, since the administrators released the third part prematurely, and I wanted to wait until the middle bit was released. The proper order to read these comics should be:



    (Sad to say that Dark Horse hasn't seemed any more interested in What's Michael? than they were when they were releasing those flimsy collection books)

  6. Send It To SROMG!