MSX: Mangasplaining Extra — The weekly manga magazine for people who love manga.

Hello, and Welcome to Mangasplaining! The newsletter where we talk about manga, and also… publish manga?!

It’s true!  Some of the folks behind the Mangasplaining Podcast are starting a brand new publishing endeavour under the Mangasplaining banner, the very first manga Substack! We will publish the episode show-notes you already love, original articles about manga & manga history, and two brand-new manga projects, Okinawa by Susumu Higa, and These Days (Higoro One-shot) by Taiyo Matsumoto!

This is MSX, or Mangasplaining Extra, a new kind of manga publishing paradigm that, like the Mangasplaining podcast, explores the real variety and breadth of Japan’s comics landscape today. From manga publishing to how manga works, from history to food, from deep cultural traditions to contemporary anxieties – we’ll be bringing you works that illuminate the lesser known (and rarely translated) corners of Japanese comics and culture. Whether you’re a reader who’s just never really known where to start with manga, or an aficionado who just can’t get enough, MSX is for you! 

This project will be led by Deb Aoki, Andrew Woodrow-Butcher and Christopher Woodrow-Butcher, with help from our friend/translator/all-around smart and helpful guy in Japan, Aki Yanagi. We’ll also be working with a variety of incredible manga creators, editors, writers, translators, letterers/re-touch artists, publishers, and more, to publish some really interesting and unique material for manga fans to enjoy. 

There’s a million reasons why we’re doing this (we’ll get into that down below), but basically, Mangasplaining Extra is a newsletter filled with content like our show notes, original articles and essays, and free ‘preview’ manga chapters. And if you sign up for a paid subscription, we’ll be delivering a full chapter of manga or stand-alone one-shot manga to your inbox every week! All of this manga is completely legal and licensed, and all of the creators and contributors (translators, editors, letterers, etc.) have been paid for their work.

Wait, so you’re going to email us articles and manga? 

Yup. Each week you’ll get the Mangasplaining Podcast Show Notes (including a link to listen to the podcast) emailed to you for free on Tuesdays. Then on Fridays, if you’re a paid subscriber you’ll get a chapter of manga in your inbox – including many stories that have never been published in English before. Sometimes on Sundays, we’ll email you bonus content, like an original piece of writing about manga. No more than 3 emails per week, and we think it’ll be content that you’re gonna love.

No really, you’re delivering manga to my inbox?

Yeah! Lots of comic creators are serializing their new original stories on their Substack newsletters. With MSX, we’re delivering really interesting and unique manga from Japan, translated into English, often for the first time!

Y’know, we’re literally in a golden age of English-language manga publishing right now, with more types of work, more genres, and more creators represented than ever before. And even with all this manga out there now, it’s still only a fraction of what’s available in Japan! With our new Mangasplaining publishing program, we’ll have an opportunity to explore a new, different paradigm for bringing manga from Japan to you. We’ll be showcasing unique titles that explain Japanese history and culture, and illuminate both the medium and industry of manga itself! We want to publish manga that, well, Manga-splains. 

Ready to subscribe? Go to mangasplainingextra.com to get started, or you can keep reading…

I think I get it, but why are you doing this on Substack?

SO MANY REASONS! Here are a bunch of them:

  • WE LOVE MANGA! We’ve come across so many great manga in Japanese that we’ve thought, “Wow, I wish this would get licensed/translated into English.”  But that’s easier said than done! There are so many challenges in licensing/publishing manga in English that sometimes good works get left behind. With our Mangasplaining publishing efforts, we’re going to try our best to license, publish and share works that we love and use our platform to shine a spotlight on other folks that are doing the same thing.
  • Serializing books on Substack makes it possible for us to pay all of the creators, publishers, translators, and letterers who do this work. This is important.
  • Manga is usually serialized as monthly or weekly releases in Japan, but has only recently been released this way in North America. This is largely thanks to the success of Shonen Jump, and other publishers’ (Yen Press, Kodansha) weekly chapter releases through various online streaming / ebook services.
  • Digital serialization allows us to go behind the scenes of manga – it allows us to go deeper into this world, highlighting challenges in the process, or just showing you some cool stuff that wouldn’t normally make it into the book itself!
  • Weekly/monthly serialization will also give these titles a ‘longer shelf life.’ Releasing manga over a longer period will allow it to generate buzz, build an audience, and hopefully create opportunities for similar titles or genres that might otherwise be a ‘tough sell’ in today’s market.

Mangasplaining Extra is a weekly manga magazine for people who love manga. 🙂

Please tell me more about these manga!

Okinawa by Susumu Higa: 

A few years ago, Christopher, Andrew, and translator Jocelyne Allen licensed two manga by legendary alternative manga creator Susumu Higa, Sword of Sand and Mabui, which were intended to be published in one collection called Okinawa, by Fantagraphics. Unfortunately, both time and money didn’t allow the publication of that manga at that time. But thanks to the folks at Substack, we’ve got the funding necessary to complete the production of this remarkable collection of short stories. We’ll be serializing on Mangasplaining Extra before it’s released as a print edition from Fantagraphics and MSX at the end of 2022/beginning of 2023.

Okinawa is right up there as one of the best WWII manga I’ve read.” 

– Eric Reynolds, Fantagraphics

Okinawa brings together two collections of intertwined stories by the islands’ pre-eminent mangaka, Susumu Higa, which reflect on Okinawa’s complicated and tragic history before, during and after World War II. It draws upon traditional Okinawan spirituality, the modern-day realities of the continuing US military occupation, and the senselessness of war. 

Translated by Jocelyne Allen, lettered by Patrick Crotty, edited by Andrew Woodrow-Butcher. Licensed directly with the author with the support of Fantagraphics Books, Jocelyne Allen, Mitsuhiro Asakawa, and Aki Yanagi. Print edition is scheduled for release in late 2022, and available in the MSX archive for one year from publication date.

These Days (Higoro One-Shot) by Taiyo Matsumoto:

Many years ago, Taiyo Matsumoto (creator of Mangasplaining fave Tekkon Kinkreet) and his editor Hideki Egami prepared a unique prototype manga that would be published outside of the traditional manga publishing industry. This story is called These Days (Higoro), and it’s a beautiful short work about manga publishing, about being in between places, in between careers, and being lost in life. 

This manga and these pages were never published. Instead, Matsumoto-sensei reworked these pages into a new story, Tokyo Higoro, which is currently being serialized in Big Comic Original Zōkan, by Shogakukan in Japan. The one-shot manga we’re publishing is a prototype chapter – think of it like a song demo before the musician goes into the studio. It’s the kind of work that is rarely seen in English. Thankfully, Matsumoto-sensei has agreed to let this be published exclusively on MSX, both in the beautiful final ink washes seen on his recent works like Cats of the Louvre and Sunny (both from VIZ Media), but also the original rough ‘name’ or penciled pages will be shown for the first time ever! 

Translated by Michael Arias, lettered and edited by Christopher Butcher. Licensed from the author, with the assistance of Hideki Egami and Aki Yanagi. Digital-only exclusive, available in the MSX archive for one year from publication date.

There’s more to come too!

Wow, that’s neat, but that sounds like a lot. 

It’s gonna be pretty straightforward, and it won’t flood your inbox, we promise!  On Tuesdays, we’ll send you a link to the podcast and the show notes for free. On Fridays (if you’re a paid subscriber), we’ll send you a chapter of manga. Occasionally, we’ll send you a manga chapter or an original article, also for free. 

Here’s what the first month’s schedule looks like:

FEBRUARY

Week One: 
Tues Feb 1 – Podcast + show notes: Blood Red Boy by Minami Q-Ta (Free) 
Fri Feb 4 – Manga: Okinawa Chapter 1 (Free) 

Week Two: 
Tues Feb 8 – Podcast + show notes: Blue Period Vol 1, by Tsubasa Yamaguchi (Free)
Fri Feb 11 – Manga: Okinawa Chapter 2 (paid subscribers only)
Sun Feb 13 – Bonus Article: Manga to Film to Anime Translation (Free)

Week Three: 
Tues Feb 15 – Podcast + show notes: Our Dining Table, by Mira Ota (free)
Fri Feb 18 – Manga: Okinawa Chapter 3 (paid subscribers only)

Week Four: 
Tues Feb 22 – Podcast + show notes: Akira Vol. 3, by Katsuhiro Otomo (free)
Fri Feb  25 – Manga: These Days, by Taiyo Matsumoto (paid subscribers only)
Sun Feb 27 – Bonus Article: All about Food Manga! (Free)

Okay, that sounds kinda cool actually. 

It’s gonna be cool! We’ll be giving you a ton of free stuff to read, delivered straight to your inbox, and giving you the opportunity to support us financially and read unique new manga. Love our Mangasplaining website? No worries! We’ll continue to post the show notes at mangasplaining.com, and you’ll still be able to add your comments too!

Oh wait, what does this cost?

We made this really easy, and tried to keep it inexpensive because we know how stretched most manga fans’ budgets are.

SUBSCRIBER LEVELS:

FREE SUBSCRIPTION

  • Get our podcast show notes, free articles, and preview chapters of manga. We appreciate any level of support!

PAID MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION – US $5/month

  • Read every post! Including a new chapter of manga each week, starting with Okinawa, These Days (Higoro One-shot), and with more titles announced soon! 
  • Access to the MSX digital archive of manga chapters, available for up to one year after they’re released.
  • Discount codes to buy physical copies of any MSX Year One manga releases when they are published, from our publishing partners’ webstores. 

PAID ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION – US $50/year

  • All of the above, at a discount! (Save $10/year compared to monthly subscription)

You can find out more and sign up for a subscription at mangasplainingextra.com

We tried to make these subscription levels straightforward, easy, and all-digital for now. But depending on your support, and if we hear that subscribers are interested in subscription levels that include printed books or other items as rewards, we’ll consider adding this in future!

We’ve been asked about running crowdfunding and patronage campaigns before, and generally the Mangasplaining crew are of the opinion that we’d like people to support the work (the actual manga and the people who produce it), instead of supporting us. Of course, that said, supporting our work is supporting us directly too. So go buy David’s comics and zines, or go sign up for Chip’s Substack to read Public Domain, or buy Deb’s forthcoming… ah whoops, can’t talk about that yet. 🙂

If you can’t or don’t wanna sign up for a paid subscription now, that’s cool too! This won’t (or shouldn’t) affect the podcast at all. You can keep listening to Mangasplaining wherever you get your podcasts, or you could subscribe for free and we’ll send you a link every week. 😉


Last but not least, we’re aware that not everyone loves Substack as a platform. While we understand, this entire project couldn’t happen without them, thanks to a generous publication grant. Being here lets us translate and publish good work, and pay artists and professionals to do that work. It also lets us continue to make donations to causes and charities that mean a lot to us. 

One such charity is Rainbow Railroad (https://www.rainbowrailroad.org/), a non-profit that helps LGBTQI+ people around the world escape state-sponsored violence. It’s an important organization that Andrew and Christopher have donated to previously, and will be donating half of our MSX subscriber proceeds from Year One. For the other half, Deb has chosen the Japanese-American National Museum (https://www.janm.org/) in Los Angeles, which is dedicated to sharing the experience of Americans of Japanese ancestry as an integral part of US history. 


I’ve still got a few questions…

You can check out the FAQ on our website for more, and there’s a link to send us an email if you’d like to contact us for more information about anything that might not be covered here.

Thanks for reading this far!

Thanks for reading about our plans for MSX, and thanks for subscribing, and thanks for… well, thanks for your support! We’re excited to throw our hats into the manga publishing ring, to try to bring some great manga to more readers, and partner with great publishers to do it.

Sincerely,

Deb Aoki
Andrew Woodrow-Butcher
Christopher Woodrow-Butcher

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3 Responses

  1. Rudy says:

    Sounds like fun! Thank you for all your effort!!

  2. KC says:

    I’m sorry to say I’ve fallen very behind on your episodes but I just wanted to drop by to say congratulations!! This is a very cool new endeavour and it shows how far your podcast has come. I will aim to catch up soon.

  3. Miguel Corti says:

    Wow, that’s some great news! I remember one episode a while back Christopher joked about the Mangasplaining empire, and now it looks like it’ actually happening. Full on congrats for being able to do more of what you while supporting creators and bringing something to the fans.

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