From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No. 140
Hey gang, and welcome to a special edition of From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! Today we interview Beth Kawasaki, Senior Editorial Director of Children’s Publishing at Viz Media, about their new sticky dot all-ages comics app! Let’s get down to asking some questions!
ComicAttack: Hey Beth! Thanks for joining us today. We have talked about the new sticky DOT app on our site recently, but for those who may have missed that article, can you tell us the basic run down?
Beth Kawasaki: Sure. Sticky DOT is an all-ages app featuring really fun comic books published by VIZ Media. We have a great mix of content with funny stories, including LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, MR. STRONG and MAMESHIBA, and action-packed graphic novels REDAKAI and VOLTRON FORCE. And there are a ton of POKÉMON manga, with four series on the app so far.
The idea behind the app is to provide a safe place for kids to find engaging comics. They can get lost for long stretches of time reading the graphic novels, which range from 80 to 200 pages. And their parents will know that all the content is age-appropriate and budget-friendly (the average price is $3.99).
CA: The app has a chunk of nice material on hand currently, with POKÉMON ADVENTURES, VOLTRON FORCE, REDAKAI and more. What was the reason to start with these titles, especially a very POKÉMON-heavy launch?
BK: Who doesn’t know POKÉMON? We’re really lucky that the licensors worked with us to publish the first-ever digital versions of POKÉMON manga. VIZ has a long history with POKÉMON, publishing several series over the years as well as distributing the TV show and movie DVDs. Since we had such a deep catalog, we were able to select some of the current ongoing POKÉMON series as well as favorites that keep smiles on kids’ faces.
The other series are also part of our kids imprint. Over the last several months, VIZ has really started to publish a lot more Western-style graphic novels for ages 12 and under, and we’ve created these fantastic comics with really wonderful art and engaging stories. So of course we wanted to put out digital versions of the books as well. The more kids who read the books – in print or digital format – the happier we are. It means we’ll be able to acquire more great titles and keep having fun coming to work every day.
CA: A few great titles weren’t on yet during the launch, like THE LEGEND OF ZELDA, FLUFFY, FLUFFY CINNAMOROLL, and HAPPY HAPPY CLOVER. Can you tell us what other titles we will see on the release schedule in the future? (You will probably make my day if HAPPY HAPPY CLOVER is on, you cannot find that title in bookstores anywhere these days.)
BK: Those are some great titles! I can’t yet reveal what other series will be on the sticky DOT comics app but everything you mentioned is definitely on our wish list. We’re working with all of our licensors to have a robust catalog of manga and graphic novels on the app.
CA: This year, VIZ Kids will be releasing more new titles like HELLO KITTY and BEN 10. In a world quickly going day-and-date with digital releases, is there a plan to go day-and-date with their physical releases for the new titles?
BK: We’re hoping to do that with as many titles as possible. Negotiations are ongoing so it’s too soon to say which exact titles we’ll be able to do that with.
CA: The VIZ Manga app has WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP to help keep pulling in readers. Has there been any thought of sticky DOT getting its own Japanese magazine, like an American version of the monthly Coro Coro (note: to our readers, Coro Coro is the comic magazine that publishes titles Pokemon, Doreamon, and more)?
BK: We haven’t gone down that road yet with the kids imprint but things are changing so rapidly in the digital space that you never know what may happen.
CA: Design wise it reads and feels like the VIZ Manga app, just more colorful. Why did you separate sticky DOT from the VIZ Manga app, instead of making an all-ages section on that already existing app?
BK: We think parents will feel more comfortable knowing there is no chance their child will accidentally click on content that they don’t think is appropriate. In other words, sticky DOT comics provides a safe all-ages environment.
CA: The VIZ Manga app also has a way to sign in and save things with your VIZ Manga account, which is peace of mind for some readers who are afraid if their tablet breaks or the like, they can re-grab these titles they paid for. Is there a plan in the future to let users tie the sticky DOT app into their VIZ account too?
BK: We don’t have plans at this time to require user accounts. There are strict laws about gathering information on anyone under the age of 13.
CA: Finally, any final thought you want to leave with our readers on this great way to read all-age comics?
BK: First of all, thanks for saying the app is a great way to read all-ages comics. That was exactly what we wanted to achieve. Ultimately, our goal is to get comics into the hands of as many kids as possible, and we think the sticky DOT comics app is a really appealing way to do that – it’s simple to use, easy on the wallet and offers a great mix of humorous titles with a heavy dose of silliness and rock ‘em, sock’em adventures with suspenseful battles.
Check out the free previews on the app to get a taste of your favorite series. Then buy just one of the books and we promise you’ll love it and be coming back for more.
CA: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us!
That’s it for today, make sure you tune into our usual column every Friday here on ComicAttack.net!