We had a chat with Dark Horse's Director of International Publishing and Licensing about "Berserk" and other manga matters.
Berserk fans are enjoying a wealth of new content over the past month and into the summer, with the 38th volume of the manga releasing on July 18. It’s a great time to be a fan, and with that in mind we were happy to speak with Dark Horse Comics’ Director of International Publishing and Licensing, Michael Gombos, about Berserk, the publishing process, and more.
Berserk has reached several new audiences with the release of the latest anime series seasons this year and last, so are there any plans to bundle volumes into omnibus releases for collectors to get a fresh start?
Not at the moment—there is still excitement around the individual volumes (which are still coming out in Japan), and in a sense, the material is fresher than ever, with tons of new readers making the foray into Berserk. Furthermore, both the creator and licensor are pleased with the current format and releases, which is incredibly important to us as licensees of the work.
Why do you think the Berserk story resonates so much with fans?
The Berserk world is every bit as rich and complex as that of A Game of Thrones, and while the material is often horrific and genuinely disturbing, there is real human emotion and a generous serving of humor. The more you read, the deeper you are drawn in. Kentaro Miura’s imagination is boundless, and the series never fails to surprise. It really is an astonishing accomplishment.
If you were going to recommend additional Dark Horse titles for fans interested in Berserk, what would they be?
It’s difficult to compare anything to Berserk, but I’d suggest Gantz, another very adult and very disturbing series that is filled with imagination and heart. And Gantz is also one of the most spectacularly realistic works of comics illustration I’ve ever seen. You really believe everything you see—and some of it you’ll wish you could un-see!
Does the amount of widely disseminated Berserk scans from fans tend to affect the sales of the Berserk volumes?
We’re selling more now than we ever have, so while scanlations likely have some impact on sales, a lot of readers are buying our Berserk volumes. That said, I believe that most people who read scanlations aren’t going to pay for the books anyway, so those aren’t really lost sales, and some who check out the scanlations become fans of the series and start buying the books.
How long of a lead time do you have between when volumes of Berserk are published in Japan and translating them for Western audiences?
Depends on a lot of factors too boring to go into. We get them out as soon as is practical; things as small as someone being out for a week with wisdom tooth surgery on top of Golden Week vacation in Japan can delay negotiations, and there are a bunch of other elements, such as solicitation with our distributor, translation, etc.
Since the additional Berserk series and video games have released in the last few months, have you seen an uptick in manga sales?
Absolutely. And, actually, it has recently dethroned Lone Wolf & Cub as DH’s best-selling title (not just among manga, but across all titles and volumes), and in terms of units sold commercially—that is, via “normal” channels, not a special bulk pack-in ordered by a specific client—it is our historical bestseller.
Do you typically see more sales from later parts of the series or near the beginning with fans just getting into the franchise in general?
Generally, there’d be series attrition with any longer title, but this is one of those special titles (like Gantz or Lone Wolf & Cub) that remain steady across the board.
Were sales of the manga steady despite the four-year gap between volume 37 and volume 38?
Yes, surprisingly. However, Miura-sensei released Giganto Maxia, also published by DH and released a while back, which seemed to tide over the fans during the long wait.
Fueled by horror, rainbow-sugar-pixel-rushes, and video games, Brittany is a freelancer who thrives on surrealism and ultraviolence. Follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake and check out her portfolio for more.