For those of us who read comics–of whatever type–Tokyopop has been a major force in the industry for about 15 years. They took a slowly maturing market, and showed how it could be turned into a major runaway success.

They’ve been in trouble for the past few years, and laid off all but about 5 people around the beginning of the year. And this week the business closed its doors.

This is just the latest in a series of closures in the American Manga/Anime business. As a fan, I’ve been unhappy to see the various companies go, even though I could see the downcycle after the boom coming from years away.

I cannot be unhappy that Tokyopop is gone.

This blog post best articulates why, though he goes into things I had only vaguely suspected:

This is a somewhat better overview of just went wrong at Tokyopop:

And a rant about the ‘OEL Manga’ line:

The real problem was the man at the top. Did Stu Levy start Tokyopop because of a passion for comics/manga? No. He started it because he could, and to be on top of something ‘cool’. Tokyopop marketed manga pretty much purely as the new ‘in and cool thing’. Now, this is a great way to get word out to the audience that most manga is aimed at in the first place, but it’s not a long-term strategy.

The ‘coolness’ of anything has a time limit. For the mainstream in the mid-90s, anime and manga were still brand new, and the ‘never seen before’ factor is what allowed it to be cool. It has now been seen before. The mainstream has been aware of manga and anime for as long as many high-schoolers have been alive now. (Ow. That was painful to write.)

Once that was over, the Tokyopop’s ability to do things on the cheap and cash in was limited. Also, just in case you didn’t catch it from the above links, Tokyopop’s contracts with their stable of original artists were crap. Thankfully, companies that invite creator-originated content, and then treat the creators like crap have trouble lasting (I’m looking at you Sirius).

Okay, this has turned from a quick note to point up the first link to a full rant. *sigh*