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AICN Anime-A Fond Farewell to the Monthly Edition of Blade of the Immortal

Logo handmade by Bannister Column by Scott Green

Blade of the Immortal, the monthly comic By Hiroaki Samura Released by Dark Horse Comics June 1996-November 2007 32 page monthly

For over a decade, Dark Horse Comics ran Hiroaki Samura's artfully violent Blade of the Immortal in the 32 page format that dominates the shelves of specialty comic shops. This week, with the release of Blade of the Immortal #130, Dark Horse will announced that November's release of #131 will be last of the monthly issue of the manga. An aspects of Blade of the Immortal's plot is a rejection of tradition in favor of individualistic effectiveness. For example, the Edo Era sword epic features characters Taito Magatsu, a before-his-time social radical who fights with a sword that more closely resembles a Roman gladius than a Japanese katana. That unbowing attitude has been reflected in Hiroaki Samura's work on the title and by Dark Horse's release. In the years between when Ghost in the Shell and Sailor Moon primed the market North American, and when Cartoon Network and the $10 graphic novel collection ignited the anime/manga boom, Blade of the Immortal stood as a counter-example to the assertion that all manga was the was same. It's alway been a factuous argument, and prior to Blade of the Immortal, the North Ammerican market has works by Tetsuo Hara (Fist of the North Star), Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira) and Ryoichi Ikegami (Crying Freeman) to demonstrate that manga was not defined by or entirely compyrised by the Sailor Moon or Ranma 1/2 style of character design. Yet, Blade of the Immortal immediately looking different and has remained compellingly unique over the cource of 130 issues or 17 collected volumes
To date myself a bit, during my freshman year of college, in Fall '96 or Spring 97, I remember a neighbor introducing his girlfriend to manga (or more specifically, the girl getting close to the guy by looking for an introduction) thorough Nausicaa collections and a few issues of Blade of the Immortal. People knew Ranma 1/2 as the popular title of the day, and people knew Ghost in the Shell. Blade of the Immortal was something starkly different. It wasn't an unknown genre, but it was an unparalleled expression of that genre. Even if you knew chambara from Kurosawa or Shogun Assassin, Samura's love of exotic weapons, detailed anatomy and mix of media established Blade of the Immortal as a unique experience: both viscerally unsettling and horrifically beautiful. Few who saw it's early chapters will forget its duel with serial killer/poet Sabato Kuroi ( "Black Sabbath"): a middle aged man with severed heads mounted on his shoulders, who sliced into the manga's titular regenerating swordsman with spinning blades before being killed in one of the manga's early "death mural." Even though Blade of the Immortal was and is a distinctive title, it currently represents a throw back to how manga in North America once looked, and it stands as an antithesis of the manga boom. When Blade of the Immortal entered the North American market, apart from some prominently examples, like the legendary Four Shoujo Stories or Hagio Moto's A A', it was almost entirely a male targeted field. For example, the following are Diamond's estimated pre-order rankings from October 1996, the month when issue 5 of Blade of the Immortal was released
RankTitleIssuePricePublisherEstimated Pre-orders
195Ranma 1/2 Part Five11$2.95Viz12,900
196Gunsmith Cats: The Return of Gray3$2.95Dark Horse12,700
216Blade of the Immortal Genius 1$2.95Dark Horse10,800
219Legend of Mother Sarah: City of the Angels1$3.95Dark Horse10,200
225Battle Angel Alita Part Seven1$2.95Viz 9,700
255No Need for Tenchi7$2.95Viz 6,600
265La Blue Girl4$2.95CPM 6,000
277Return of Lum Part Three6$2.95Viz 5,500
287Riot Act Two7$2.95Viz 5,200
296Bio Booster Armor Guyver Part Five6$2.95Viz 4,600
299Demon Beast Invasion1$2.95CPM 4,400
304Fist of the North Star Part Three4$2.95Viz 4,400
308Manga Vizion Vol. 210$4.95Viz 4,200
313Sanctuary Part Five8$3.50Viz 4,000
Arguably the Toshio Maeda titles (La Blue Girl, Demon Beast Invasion) are not seinen (older male audience) and they certainly are not shounen (young male audience), but the rest of these titles are. In Japan, Blade of the Immortal is published in the monthly Afternoon anthology, which is home to a number of violent concept manga (Eden, Blame, Parasyte, Tokko) some relationship series (Oh My Goddess), and some more singular works (Yokohama Shopping Log, Spirit of Wonder, Genshiken, Mushishi, Nasu). Since Blade of the Immortal's entry, manga has undergone a boom and recession in North America. The new shape has formed around a few blockbuster shounen titles, specifically the Shounen Jump mainstay: Naruto, One Piece, ect. and shelves of shoujo (younger female audience) and yaoi (male homosexual romance for a female audience). This emphasis has not extended to older female audience josei titles, which maintain a slimmer representation in the market than seinen. While action shounen retains its commercial potential, varieties of shounen that don't fit into that model, as well as seinen, have had difficult time clinging to the book shelves as the tide of the market receded. In March 2007, Media Blasters ended publication of its shounen/seinen titles, including Pilgrim Jäger, Apocalypse Zero, Baron Gong Battle, Kanunara: Rebirth of the Demon Slayer, and Flesh For The Beast, to focus on the distribution of yaoi titles. DMP has undergone a similar process, shelving Worst, IWGP and Barbie and Her Pink Gun in favor of their yaoi titles. New publishers entering into the industry have similarly focused on shoujo,yaoi or both. In eulogizing Blade of the Immortal, a work that is swimming up stream in the market's current, the intent of this piece is not simply to lament that a male dominated market has yielded to a female dominated one. In light of decades of super-hero genre comics commanding the field, this could be taken as something close to justice. There's little evidence to argue for a cyclical change over in genre, with a pendulum that will swing back towards the seinen material. For the foreseeable future, the female consumer base will be in the driver's seat and works like Blade of the Immortal will have to struggle to find an audience. If Blade of the Immortal operates contrary to trends in its genre, it really finds itself in a singular position with its release format. Blade of the Immortal was shepherded into North America by Toren Smith. Describing the role of his outfit, Studio Proteus, in an interview We are a packager. What I do is I find comics in Japan that I like. Then I show them to publishers over here -- in the past that was Eclipse or Innovation, now Dark Horse and Fantagraphics. If they like them, then I make all the arrangements to get the rights and handle all of the work required to hand the publishers a camera-ready copy. Everything else is their bailiwick: promotion, advertising, solicitation, printing, distribution... all that fun stuff. Smith brought a particularly demanding attention to quality to his studio's work. The easiest way of getting manga to flow left to right is to reverse the image. For Blade of the Immortal, Studio Proteus took a more involved route. From the title's preface: The Artwork While Blade of the Immortal is a Westernized (left-right reading) manga, author Hiroaki Samura requested that we avoid mirror imaging his artwork. Instead, the pages are reversed via the technique of cutting up the panels and re-pasting them in reverse order. There are, of course, some sequences where it is impossible to do this, and mirror imaged panels or pages are used. Sound Effects & Dialog Some of Mr. Samura's sound effects are integral parts of the illustrations, and those have been left in their original Japanese. In addition, Blade's dialogue is quite different from typical samurai manga and is one of the features that has made Blade such a hit in Japan. Mr. Samura has mixed a variety of linguistic styles, with some characters speaking as it they were street-corner punks from a bad area of modern-day Tokyo. The anachronistic slang in the English translation reflect the unusual mix of speech patterns in the original Japanese. In 2004, Dark Horse purchased Studio Proteus, but the effort spent on behalf of Blade of the Immortal has remained consistent. As when the title won the Will Eisner Comic Industry Award in 2000 for Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material, Dana Lewis still translates it; Tomoko Saito still does the lettering and retouch work. In 1997, TOKYOPOP, then Mixx, entered the market with Sailor Moon, Ice Blade, Parasyte, and Magic Knights Rayearth. Initially these were published in their Mixx-Zine publication. Gradually TOKYOPOP and other publishers began releasing titles in graphic novel collections without first serializing the titles in monthly issues and anthologies, but TOKYOPOP radically changed the landscape in 2002 with their "Authentic Manga" format. This meant pages ordered and read right to left and sound-effect illustration left untranslated (on the page or in annotations). From their original press release: TOKYOPOP has made an unprecedented move to keep the English-language versions of manga (comic books and graphic novels) as close to their Japanese originals as possible. Starting in April 2002, TOKYOPOP will publish all of its new manga titles in the authentic right-to-left format, and give fans the true experience they have been asking for. This not only maintains the integrity of the original artwork, but also enables TOKYOPOP to release most graphic novel series on a frequency three-to-six times faster than the current industry standard. TOKYOPOP volumes will hit the shelves monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly versus the six months or longer typical of competitors. The result was that book stores could fill shelves with $10 graphic novels that consumers could try out without denting their budget. And, it meant a push away from effort put forth localizing titles. Dark Horse is not alone in taking pride in the product that they put out, but that's not the direction of the industry. In 2003/2004, when a host of publishers were rushing to fill the shelves with $10 volumes, "speed" was the watch-word of adaptation. In 2007, with a market that has contracted, publishers have made their efforts leaner. Currently, complaints have even been registered in the related, prose field on light novels. Back in November 2005, followed the end of Dark Horse's Super Manga Blast anthology, Toren Smith stated: One misunderstanding that has spread across the net is that I refused to have anything to do with unflopped, straight to TPB manga. This is partly true in that I, personally, don't really like it and didn't want to work on them myself. However, the popularity of them was undeniable, and so I put together a complete plan for Dark Horse to move into that arena. I had it developed into a three-stage approach, starting with more populist manga and gradually expanding to include better but more challenging material. I selected 30 titles and submitted the whole plan back in 2002. Dark Horse chose not to move ahead on it, I don't know why. (I find it interesting that since then, about 80% of the titles I proposed have been licensed by other companies.) The fact that I didn't want to work on these books seems to baffle many fans. It's not that hard to understand, really. The pressures--time and financial--of producing several 200 page, $9.99 cover price books every month pretty much preclude sustained quality. That some of the people working at Viz and Tokyopop have managed to do a good job on some titles under these conditions is a testimony to their dedication and superhuman effort. However, most of the $10 books are very roughly done, to the detriment of the story. That the otaku will blow a gasket over drawing a towel on one panel of a naked 12 year-old-girl (in Shadow Star) but don't seem to care about the lumpy, semi-translated dialog done on entire series is inexplicable. The story's the thing, and what hurts the story in a comic book more than bad dialog? But I've come to the conclusion that they like that sort of raw translation. Though Blade of the Immortal: the Monthly is survived by Blade of the Immortal: The Graphic novel, its passing will be lamented by die-hard followers. Unfortunately, according to sales figures, these only number about three thousand. In any long running series, consumers will drift off from the later points. As the 1996 sales chart indicated, Blade of the Immortal, like most manga released as monthly issues, emphasized defined blocks of the larger work. Each issue of Blade of the Immortal bore the name of the volume to which it belonged. For example, issue 91 clearly indicated that it was "Last Blood 2 of 5." Yet, with the continuity typically found in manga, new consumers would start from the beginning. And, the new consumer would start with the first graphic novel collection. Couple that with limited distribution outside specialty comics shops, and the hard time in that industry, and the issue of whether Blade of the Immortal, as a monthly release, might be an unfeasible endeavor becomes "when" not "if". Yet, in the collected arena, it's still not an average book. Blade of the Immortal is a larger book: 8.1" x 5.7" versus something like 7.5" x 4.7" or 7.5" x 4.7" And, it is produced through a more labor extensive process. As such, depending on length, the price of a volume ranges between $15.95 and $17.95, versus $9.95 or 10.95 for many others. Though many manga readers would profess a respect for the manga tradition, its role in their lives is that of a cheap thrill. And that's not contrary to the purpose of most manga. Maybe Tezuka's Three Adolfs goes on the same shelf as DeLillo's Falling Man, but Death Note doesn't. Apart maybe from Buddha, it has not been the case that the titles that won the Best U.S. Edition of International Material Eisner weren't well received among manga consumers. But ultimately, quality might be a red herring in the argument. The market is in heated competition with other media. Aside from the cross-media hits like Naruto, areas where there is not a strong overlap have been the ones that have prospered. Death Notes succeeded before its anime hit North America, and maybe that's because there aren't exactly an abundance of lethal thrillers for its demographic. How much yaoi-like material is there outside manga? To propose a nemesis for Blade of the Immortal and its about video games. When Blade of the Immortal entered the North American market, the original Playstation was an object of jealousy possessed by a few people you'd know. Blade of the Immortal just beat early system RPG onto the field by a quarter. This is decidedly a post hoc, ergo propter hoc argument, but empirical evidence does suggest the rise of video games has had some bearing on the marginalization of senein. That industry has grabbed a much larger mindset and portion of the wallet of the Blade of the Immortal audience during its run. The monthly release of Blade of the Immortal has been a passion on the part of its localizers and rightly a source of pride. Yet, despite. dwindling, but loyal core of consumers, most manga consumers will responded to the passing of the Blade of the Immortal monthly with "it was still running" or "what took them so song". Unfortunately for fans or older audience male genres... Unfortunately for fans of carefully localized manga, Blade of the Immortal is not what the market is looking for. Anyways, AICN Anime pours one for Blade of the Immortal... In these quarters, your work was appreciated.

Dark Horse's Blade of the Immortal editor Philip Simon has graciously agreed to share his thoughts on the end of the monthly edition.

SCOTT GREEN: I think the lifespan of the monthly Blade of the Immortal was June, 1996 to November, 2007. PHILIP SIMON: That’ll be the lifespan once Blade of the Immortal #131 is in stores on November seventh. We’re ending the series with the last episode of Hiroaki Samura’s "Badger Hole" story. A somewhat natural break, or pause, because I didn’t want to end our run right in the middle of a story arc. The last Blade of the Immortal comic book will at least give readers the conclusion to Rin and Döa’s current predicament-and it ends on a relatively positive note, compared to what Samura’s cast has been through over the past two years-pretty much since our "Cauldron & An Open Pit" issue, when Manji’s chained by Kagimura . . . and Döa arrives to bug the hell out of Rin and steal the hearts out of fans. SG: It seems like the manga garnered a unique loyalty. Looking at the graphic novels for a moment, according to ICV2, "Gathering, Part 2" was released in November 2001 and sold 4,406 copies. The next volume, "Beasts", wasn't released until a year later in November 2002 and sold 4,421 copies. Obviously, readers were sticking with the title. Few native American comics can claim a decade in monthly format. No other North American manga release has come close. PS: Dark Horse’s Oh My Goddess! comic book series came close-and it might be in "second place" with 112 monthly issues, beginning in August 1994 and ending with the "Sora Unchained" final chapter in September 2004. SG: What qualities of Blade of the Immortal allowed it to survive in that format this long and attract this kind of following? PS: It’s just that good. Blade of the Immortal has survived for so long due to the quality of Hiroaki Samura’s storytelling, and of course there’s no threat whatsoever to Dark Horse Manga’s Blade of the Immortal trade collection program-which will continue as long as Samura continues the series in Japan. Blade lasted a few years longer as a comic book series because of Mike Richardson. Mike really kept the series rolling as long as he possibly could out of an appreciation for Hiroaki Samura’s work and a desire to see the work published at a size that’s a bit larger than the (already uniquely large) Blade trade collections. That’s part of the appeal of the comic books. Seeing the work in the larger comic book size is a treat, and that’s closer to the size the work is originally published at when it’s serialized monthly in Japan. Dark Horse has actually been more authentic than almost anyone else by serializing the Blade of the Immortal (Mugen no Junin) manga in these episodic portions-just as the title was originally serialized in Kodansha’s Afternoon anthology. Also, being such a great writer, Samura can really nail his readers with hard cliffhangers-so that’s part of the appeal for me and maybe other folks who enjoy savoring the cliffhanger-to-cliffhanger action and the experience of enjoying sequential art dosed out on a monthly or weekly basis. Hopefully all of our generous professional pin-up artists kept readers interested in the comic series, as well as all of the odd Samura bonus pages, pin-ups, and random pieces that I managed to scrounge up for a lot of our issues. The Oh My Goddess! comic books traveled down a similar path as the Blade of the Immortal comic series, being a successful monthly comic book paired with a successful trade collection program that saw interest in the monthly comic book dwindle as the century turned and a new generation of manga fans fell in love with the tankobon format and regular direct market comic fans started "waiting for the trades." That was a long-winded explanation, but you can apply that to Blade of the Immortal too, I think, for a portion of our readers . . . and that can be applied to other comic book series, as well. SG: Especially with something that was written for serialization, consuming the work at different speeds presents different impressions. If you read all of Blade of the Immortal in a weekend, what you interpret as the emphases will be different from what someone who read it issue by issue for years would see. In your estimation, what did I miss out on by strictly following Blade of the Immortal in it's trade paper back collections? And more generally, what do you see as the value of releasing manga in chapter serialization versus graphic novel collections? PS: Oh, I already talked about some of that . . . the appeal of the cliffhanger and experiencing the work as it was originally serialized for Japanese readers. I’m sure Samura-dono wouldn’t mind if you sat and read all seventeen English-language Blade of the Immortal trade paperbacks in one weekend, but the fact is that the story was-and still is-serialized in Japan. If Blade of the Immortal ran every Sunday in your local newspaper and you were a fan, you’d be getting that newspaper and tearing through to read the latest episode Sunday after every maddening Sunday. The waiting and expectation involved in enjoying something in serial form is appealing to some. Also, you can’t lay a trade paperback out flat on a table like you can with comic books-comic books allow you to read the work with no hands as you eat ice cream or pizza. All you need to do is keep a thumb and a forefinger clean for turning pages. Well, that’s a minor value to some, but an important value to others. SG: When we spoke about the end of Super Manga Blast in January 2006, we had the following exchange SG: You are editing Blade of the Immortal, which is one of the rare manga series still being released in what is the typical American comic monthly format. What drives the decision to keep it on a monthly schedule? PS: Mike Richardson, our publisher! He's proud to be able to present a long-running, monthly book that's so unique in so many ways - epic scope, quality art, AND cliffhanger-to-cliffhanger action, appearing in installments as they originally appeared in Japan. What factors changed since then? PS: Really, nothing changed internally at Dark Horse, since we were hoping to persevere through some thin times with the promise of seeing an increase in Blade of the Immortal comic book sales. Sales of the comic books haven’t increased over the years, even with people like Becky Cloonan, Guy Davis, Dustin Nguyen, Aaron Renier, Farel Dalrymple, and the Luna Brothers contributing pinups to the comic books and giving the series praise in interviews. I dug up a lot of unused material from every Japanese edition and started including those in the comic books. So you’ll find a lot of extra material peppered through the last four years of the Blade of the Immortal monthlies. People love Blade of the Immortal-but most people want to read it in larger doses, despite all the nice things we were adding to the comic book experience. It was Mike Richardson’s will alone that kept the comic books on the stands. Mike pushed my budgets through and kept the monthly title going for about two years longer than it might have run elsewhere. SG: How much did sales contribute to the decision? Based on ICV2 Top 300 chart, sales dropped 20% between August 2005 and August 2007. Unfortunately, 20% doesn't seem like a bad drop relative to how long running series perform in this market. Did the sales reach a threshold? Did the evolution of the series' content have any bearing? It moved from contained stories to more interwoven arcs, and the recent "Prison" phase of the series has taken a more long form approach to the narrative. There are still episodes, but it has also been drawing a closed room situation across volumes. PS: Sales mattered. Readers’ thoughts on message boards, blogs, and direct emails to Dark Horse mattered. What fans were telling me at conventions mattered. Comments that traveling coworkers brought back from conventions came to me and mattered. Some readers were unable to deal with Samura’s storytelling turns, character points of view, and pacing shifts-but I think these past several Blade comic book years have been just as enjoyable as any story arc in the manga. Samura’s pacing slowed down a bit after Manji was captured by Kagumura, and the manga started focusing more on character development, growing conspiracies, and what I’ll call "Slow Burn Horror"-rather than those beautifully brutal chase scenes and sword fights that used to happen more often. Readers have migrated to the trades and are enjoying that experience. too. I don’t think any Samura fan should be disappointed with the "Prison Arc," but-it’s subjective. That’s my opinion. Samura made a similar-though shorter-storytelling turn when he separated Rin and Manji earlier in the story. Rin snuck away from Mangi to travel to Kaga in search of Anotsu on her own, when Anotsu visited the Shingyoto-ryu dojo and Samura brought his main villain to the forefront and made us see him in a more sympathetic light. Rattling Rin . . . and perhaps fans, too. I think fans will realize that slowing the story down a bit allows Samura to develop characters that he wants you to care about . . . then when the furious battles start again, the quick contrast is exciting and readers will feel that there’s more at stake, since they’ve spent time with these fictional characters-characters who are all "expendable" and could die at any moment in Samura’s rough world. SG: Do you feel that there were readers strictly following the series in its monthlies? If so, do you expect a bump in graphic novel sales? PS: We had a solid amount of readers every month. I’ve been regularly in touch with fans over the years whose enthusiasm for the monthly series has never wavered-not matter how Samura-dono chose to experiment. When I was reading Blade of the Immortal as a fan, I read it in its comic book format and never purchased the trades. I only got a run of the trades after I started working at Dark Horse. But to answer your second question . . . if our comic book readers love Samura’s epic and are invested in these characters, I believe they’ll transition to the trades because, well, there’s no other choice and the story does continue. I’m hoping to get approvals to add some extras in future trade paperbacks, so Blade of the Immortal volume nineteen may have some of the bonus materials and professional pinups that fans of the comic books came to expect and enjoy. SG: When the series won its Eisner in 2000, the North American manga market didn't look like it does now, but it was still moving towards a graphic novel dominated field. Do you think that the monthlies had any effect on that recognition? PS: I think they did. Having the comic on the stands all these years provided at least a monthly reminder to mainstream readers that there was a whole world of action, suspense, and horror in the manga world. If a mainstream reader picked a random Blade monthly up and flipped through it, there was a chance they’d get hooked and look into the trades to get the start of the story (and hopefully catch up and then get the current comics, too). SG: How is your work as editor affected by the end of the monthly releases? PS: I’m looking forward to taking the editorial reigns on the Blade of the Immortal trade collections soon. We’ve been working with Dana and Tomoko to figure out a good transition schedule. Right now, I have Dana continuing to translate chapter after chapter of the tankobons-as if the monthly comic book series never ended. So we’re still keeping the train rolling and generating translated and lettered pages. Working out good schedules for Dana and Tomoko is my foremost concern-then we’re off! Since I’ve edited about fifty individual manga and manhwa volumes (various short series, longer titles, and a few one-volume editions), I don’t think the transition will be all that difficult. SG: Will the discontinuation of the monthly have any effect on your release plans for the collected editions? The Japanese collections do not have much of a lead on the North American ones, but are there any changes in store for the schedule? Will there be any pricing changes? PS: You’re right-there isn’t much of a lead, but I think a large group of fans are really aching to get to the "Prison Arc" FINALE. I’ve seen it. If you’re a fan and you’ve glanced at some of the climactic "Prison Arc" battles, I’m sure you’re chomping at the bit to catch up and actually read the story in your own language and see what’s next. Schedule-wise, we’re not sure about the release frequency of the volumes, as we don’t want to affect the quality by trying to rush. The prices of individual trades will always vary, based on page counts-but we’re not doing anything drastic to the program, just possibly adding some extra pages to run professional pinups, fan art, and letters. Fingers crossed. SG: Up until what looks to be the last issue (#131), you have had some highly respected comic artists provide their interpretation in pin up pieces. It looks like Zachary Baldus and Vasilis Lojos will be the final ones. Are there any plans to collect these? Is it feasible? Likewise, are there any plans for the colored cover illustrations? PS: I’m not sure if all the pinups or color cover treatments (most recently done by Dan Jackson and Ryan Hill) will be collected. Possibly far, far in the future. Part of the fun of reading and collecting comic books is the "hunt." We may never collect the pinups from our past several years’ run, and Guy Davis fans may have to hunt for that Blade of the Immortal #126 comic to get that one disturbing pinup he turned in. Aaron Renier fans will have to hunt for issue 116 in order to see this sweet, adorable cartoonist (who’s known for his all-ages work) turn in a pinup that features Makie pirouetting over a mountain of hacked, dead bodies. However, the pinups aren’t key to the story. They were ways professional fans could contribute to the fun and "community feel" of our monthly comic book offerings. I wouldn’t want to distract readers from Samura’s work by placing too much emphasis on the pinups-even though we’ve had some great ones and some exceptional interpretations. We may see future black and white pinups by industry pros, though, if I can get that approved for inclusion in future trades. This question is a bit off-beat. It seems like Hellboy is a property that inspires some pretty charming doujinshi. Is there any way that Dark Horse could publish any of those in North America? Is something like that even possible? Mike Mignola has to answer that. It certainly is possible, and Dark Horse Manga editors are well aware of the doujinshi that’s available (massive amounts!), how fun some of it is, and how professional a lot of it looks. With something like Hellboy, though, the creator would have to be behind the idea in order for it to happen. I have no idea what Mignola thinks of the Hellboy doujinshi that’s available-you’ll have to ask next time you interview him. In closing, are there any other projects you'd like to speak about? I’d like to give shout outs to a few other manga and manhwa series that I edit. Please give EDEN, MPD-PSYCHO, and SHAMAN WARRIOR a read-if you like the breathtaking action, unique characters, and over-the-top violence found in Blade of the Immortal, those titles mentioned above may scratch similar itches for you. Also, in order to transition some fans into our Blade of the Immortal trade program, we’re holding a Blade fan contest over at Four winners will get entire runs of our Blade trades. Right now, that would be volumes one to seventeen of the collected editions. You can go to to enter. As a final thought from me, I’d like to thank everyone who’s been reading our Blade of the Immortal monthly comics. I hope you had as much fun reading them as I did working to get them to you! See you in the trade collections!!

Blade of the Immortal's monthly sales, as recorded by ICV2's Top 300 Comics Index

ReleaseQuantity RankGuideEstimated QuantityIssuePrice
March 200116019.817,933BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL #55$2.99
April 200114519.577,842BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL #56 THE GATHERING PART 14 (OF 15)$2.99
May 200115119.427,867BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #57 THE GATHERING PART 15 (OF 15)$2.99
July 200116818.37,989BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #58 SECRETS (1 OF 4)$2.99
August 200116617.967,771BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #59 SECRETS (2 OF 4)$2.99
September 200117019.017,740BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #60 SECRETS (3 Of 4)$2.99
October 200118817.427,483BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #61 SECRETS (4 OF 4)$2.99
November 200119418.77,608BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #62 STIGMATA$2.99
December 200116918.927,662BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #63 HUSK ONE SHOT$2.99
January 200217315.727,421BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #64 SKIN (1 Of 2)$2.99
February 200216313.647,250BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #65 SKIN (2 Of 2)$2.99
March 200216815.117,262BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #66 BEASTS (1 Of 7)$2.99
April 200216715.857,109BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #67 BEASTS (2 Of 7)$2.99
May 200217513.617,063BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #68 BEASTS (3 Of 7)$2.99
June 200217915.386,989BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #69 BEASTS (4 Of 7)$2.99
July 200218213.116,900BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #70 BEASTS$2.99
August 200219615.456,832BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #71 BEASTS (6 Of 7)$2.99
September 200218315.76,846BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #72 BEASTS (7 Of 7) $2.99
November 20021927.15 6,797BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #73 FALL FROST (1 Of 6)$2.99
December 20021805.976,532BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #74 FALL FROST (2 Of 6)$2.99
January 20031855.356,422BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #75 FALL FROST (3 Of 6)$2.99
February 200319656,255BLADE O/T IMMORTAL FALL FROST (PART 4 OF 6) #76 $2.99
March 20032045.036,179BLADE O/T IMMORTAL FALL FROST (5 Of 6) #77$2.99
April 20032084.186,401BLADE O/T IMMORTAL FALL FROST (6 Of 6)#78$2.99
June 20032064.336,137BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #79 WIND & CRANE$2.99
July 20032134.226,187BLADE O/T IMMORTAL PETALS O/T WIND #80$2.99
August 20032024.075,988BLADE O/T IMMORTAL SHADOWS ONE-SHOT #81$2.99
September 20032052.586,031BLADE O/T IMMORTAL SHADOWS #82$2.99
October 20032535.66,028BLADE O/T IMMORTAL PATH O/SHADOWS ONE-SHOT #83$2.99
November 20032096.145,943BLADE O/T IMMORTAL THORNS ONE-SHOT #84$2.99
December 20032156.265,753BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #85 MIRROR O/T SOUL (1 Of 3) $2.99
January 20041686.235,548BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #86$2.99
February 20041816.525,482BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #87$2.99
March 20042106.465,072BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #88$2.99
May 20041966.955,344BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #89$2.99
June 20042037.375,308BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #90$2.99
July 20042087.425,122BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #91$3.50
August 20042057.075,111BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #92 $2.99
September 20042217.375,250BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #93$2.99
October 20041987.45,176BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL #94$2.99
November 20042147.754,942BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #95$2.99
December 20042347.964,847BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #96$2.99
January 20051747.964,667BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #97$2.99
February 20052098.044,666BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #98$2.99
March 20052287.874,706BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #99$2.99
April 20052017.764,838BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #100$5.99
May 20051946.924,611BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #101$2.99
June 20052646.324,248BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #102$2.99
July 20051986.394,181BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #103$2.99
August 20052326.254,150BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #104$2.99
September 20052186.164,065BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #105$2.99
October 20052285.73,989BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #106$3.99
November 20052405.683,960BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #107$2.99
December 20052366.053,821BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #108$2.99
January 20062105.993,737BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #109$2.99
February 20062285.613,728BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #110$2.99
March 20062695.183,616BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #111$2.99
April 20062245.23,790BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #112$2.99
May 20062724.693,623BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #113$2.99
June 20062114.623,535BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #114$2.99
July 20062453.153,577BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #115$2.99
August 20062393.683,532BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #116$2.99
September 20062083.853,517BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #117$2.99
October 20062265.713,565BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #118$2.99
November 20062873.793,576BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #119$2.99
December 20062574.493,456BLADE O/IMMORTAL #120$2.99
January 20072674.773,458BLADE O/T IMMORTAL #121$2.99
February 20072434.123,426BLADE O/IMMORTAL #122$2.99
March 20072364.193,373BLADE O/IMMORTAL #123$2.99
April 20072386.033,394BLADE O/IMMORTAL #124$2.99
May 20072744.233,389BLADE O/IMMORTAL #125$2.99
June 20072376.333,425BLADE O/IMMORTAL #126$2.99
July 20072664.073,410BLADE O/THE IMMORTAL #127$2.99
August 20072774.343,340BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL #128$2.99

ICV2's Graphic Novels Sales Index

ReleaseQuantity RankGuideEstimated QuantityIssuePrice
November 20011310.834,406BLADE O/T IMMORTAL GATHERING VOL II TP$15.95
November 2002104.654,421BLADE O/T IMMORTAL BEASTS TP$14.95
December 200374.293,942BLADE O/T IMMORTAL VOL 12 AUTUMN FROST TP $16.95
August 2004145.263,802BLADE O/T IMMORTAL VOL 13 MIRROR O/T SOUL TP$17.95
June 2005214.743,186BLADE O/T IMMORTAL VOL 14 LAST BLOOD TP $17.95
February 2006284.082,711BLADE O/T IMMORTAL VOL 15 TRICKSTER TP$16.95
January 2007274.12,972BLADE O/T IMMORTAL SHORTCUT VOL 16 TP$16.95

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