Digital Manga's previous appeal -- to fund the acquisition and translation of Barbara -- occurred earlier in the calendar year and was met with great success [related A.I. news: "Digital Manga Gains Fan Support for Tezuka Originals" (02/2012)]. The campaign was seen by the company as a high mark for readers of strikingly adult, surreal, and subjective manga presentations. Barbara officially goes on sale in September/October 2012.
In the end, Digital Manga earned the cash to license all three titles before the close of the original funding deadline, squeezing passed its three-tiered project goal ($47,000) in the closing days, if not hours, of the campaign.
All three titles are likely to be released domestically within a year: Atom Cat is currently scheduled to retail by March 2013, while Triton of the Sea, a two-volume adventure comic, has been pegged with estimated release dates of June 2013/August 2013.
There are countless Kickstarter projects currently afoot for the purpose of funding online comics compilations, original graphic novels, videogames, and global acquisitions. Some campaigns are more ambitious than others, and some of them are certainly more practical than others. Digital Manga seems to have found its rhythm.
Unico, the publisher's original choice for this most recent funding period, occupies a quintessential part of Tezuka's oeuvre. The title's 400+ pages are a smart and tearful array of childish wonder, pure fantasy, and mythology. When the goddess of beauty commands the gentle and innocuous Unico, a baby unicorn, to leave the heavens, he is forced to travel from land to land in the realm of humans. Unico doesn't always have a context for the emotions or actions of the characters he sees or meets, but the magical creature always makes an effort. As Unico continues, readers discover Unico's marvelous powers and connection to human love and compassion. True to Osamu Tezuka's affection for the superfluous consequences of worldliness, the unicorn is forced to move on before he settles down too long in once place. Unico's memory is wiped as well, meaning that every heartfelt connection he makes is wrenched from his mind with each troubling nudge from Zephyrus, the West Wind.
Atom Cat, another kid's title from Tezuka's archives, is an amusing one shot that was produced toward the tail end of the artist's career. Returning to the source material of his famed Mighty Atom, Tezuka tells the story of a manga-adoring kid who comes across an abandoned cat in an alleyway. Tsugio is bullied by his peers and often feels like no matter how hard he tries, there's never a good day waiting for him. But with "Atom," the name he gives to the kitten, Tsugio finds a kindred spirit. Of course, the fact that Atom is an absolute terror as a pet and nearly destroys the boy's parent's home, is another matter.
Continuing, Tsugio is required to get rid of his beloved new pet. But on his way across town, the boy's bike is struck by a vehicle, and through a series of comical and convenient misunderstandings by some undercover aliens visiting earth, Tsugio is healed and Atom is "rebuilt" in the image of the boy's favorite manga hero. Atom Cat spans roughly 200 pages. Digital Manga will price its future release of Atom Cat at $12.95.
Tezuka's Triton of the Sea targets a readership of young adults, slyly maneuvering themes of environmental conservation and the value of family in a fragile world with expansive artwork and heroic action.
According to Digital Manga, Triton of the Sea will be a two-volume release, tallying 488 and 440 pages each, retailing next summer ($19.95 ea). In this comic, the publisher hopes to keep building and expanding its Tezuka library with a title full of meaningful conflict and meaningful consequences.