The Last Comics Publisher

It’s probably apparent to a fair number of you why Arkhaven matters, and why a non-comics leather book snob like myself nevertheless troubles to do what I can to keep independent comics infrastructure alive. The decline and ongoing collapse of DC and Marvel and IDW has been well-chronicled, after all. But what you may not know is that the same forces, indeed, in one case, the exact same corporate vehicle, is now targeting the two alternatives to the mainstream comics industry for destruction.

First, Japanese manga:

Blackstone launched a 275.8 billion yen ($1.74 billion) bid to take Japanese digital comic distributor Infocom, including a tender offer for a per-share price of 6,060 yen, Infocom said on Tuesday. The tender offer will amount to 141.4 billion yen, Infocom said. The company’s current parent Teijin said it will sell all of its 58% stake in Infocom for 134.4 billion yen in a share buyback after the buyout is completed. Infocom operates digital comic site Mecha Comic, which is among Japan’s largest, according to its website.

Second, Webtoons:

Webtoon Entertainment, which describes itself as the world’s largest web comic platform, has set its market value at $2.67bn (£2.11bn) ahead of its US listing. Its shares are due to start trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange on 27 June at $21 each, the top end of their marketed range. The Los Angeles-based company is owned by South Korean technology giant Naver, which has been boosted by the growing online popularity of Korean and Japanese comics. Webtoon says it has 170 million monthly active users in more than 150 countries around the world. The company is aiming to sell 15 million shares and raise $315m in the initial public offering (IPO).

The world’s largest fund manager BlackRock has expressed interest in buying up to $50m of shares.

BlackRock is Disney’s second-largest shareholder, controls several seats on its executive board, and owns about 78 million shares in the company, or the equivalent of $9.5 billion.

It’s really fascinating to see the massive amount of money suddenly being pumped into converging these culture war vehicles, especially in light of the obvious superiority of the best that Arktoons has to offer vs the best that Webtoons has on display. Below is a comparison between the #1 most popular Webtoon which is apparently about lesbian furries vs the recently updated Silenziosa:

So, in the coming months, you can expect to see a number of changes and improvements at Arkhaven, including subscriptions to specific comics, comments, and other features. The best way to support this right now is simply to subscribe for free to the Arkhaven Substack, where we’ve recently launched a daily serialization of Alt★Hero that begins with The Gods of Peaceful Sleep.

Now, of course, it’s easy to say “I’m not a comics guy, what do I care?” But do you really think the clowns running BlackRock and Blackstone care about comics, much less manga? It’s not about money either. They will never make their money back by driving these things into the ground. It’s about complete control of the cultural space, control that our community will never cede them.

We’ve also modified our approach to text serializations on Arktoons based on what we’ve learned from the substacks. Instead of running an episode once a week, we’re going to run them straight through, every day, with the exception of Quantum Mortis: A Mind Programmed, which will run on weekends. Since Chuck Dixon’s Snakehand ends today with Episode 56, Sidewinders will continue with the second novel in the series, La Gringa.

We’re looking for more volunteers to help chop up comics into Arktoons-presentable episodes, so if you’re willing and able, please get in touch. And authors who want to serialize their published novels are welcome to join the party too.

UPDATE: JDA’s more informed take on Fandom Pulse isn’t any more optimistic:

Manga fans have largely mocked American comic fans for years, calling American comics “dead” and laughing at the fans as Marvel and DC Comics circled the drain and slowly killed their content. Even superhero manga like My Hero Academia blew away the competition from Marvel and DC in American markets, which should have given the companies a signal something was drastically wrong…

Blackstone has already announced its plans to focus on female-centric content by focusing on genres with that target audience in mind. This means manga fans are likely to see a rampant feminization of their content out of the gate.