Manga Maker interview with Stu Levy (Diamond Previews)

TOKYOPOP founder Stu Levy was interviewed by Diamond Previews as part of its Manga Maker series. Check it out here:

PREVIEWSworld: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s it like being Stu Levy?

Stu Levy: Instead of giving my official bio (which you can read on my website, I’ve basically done a bit of everything in my career. Focusing on manga, I’ve edited, published, translated, curated, lettered, retouched, written, and even drawn storyboards (thumbnails) – but I’ve never drawn pencils, inks, tones or colors because I’m a terrible artist. Although one time, I helped paint an amazing mural that Santa Inoue (creator of Tokyo Tribes) drew for the show Extreme Makeover Home Edition! So far, I’ve overseen publication of more than {gulp} 4,000 manga.

PREVIEWSworld: What are your favorite manga you’ve worked on in your career?

Stu Levy: That’s a very difficult question for me since I’ve been fortunate to publish so many amazing manga. I suppose it’s a toss-up between my first major title Sailor Moon and my main original title Princess Ai. I learned a tremendous amount from both of those experiences. With “Sailor Moon, I did the original translation, English adaptation, and even lettering and retouch work. It was very early in the English-language manga market, so we were breaking new ground, more or less making things up on the fly. Trying to balance the original Japanese version with the already-released English-language anime was difficult – especially under the glaring eyes of fan watchdogs. It was amazing, though, digging so deeply into such a well-made manga – and really learning what makes manga special. And spending time with Sailor Moon creator Naoko Takeuchi was a huge bonus. With Princess Ai I went back and forth with the Japanese editorial team and manga artist – and that push and pull was challenging yet very rewarding. I would write each chapter, after doing hours of research. Then I’d send it to my editor in English for her to translate into Japanese. After that, the Japanese version would go to the Shinshokan editor who would write comments with artist Misaho Kujiradou. They’d send me their comments in Japanese and oftentimes the comments would require a significant rewrite, which I would then do and send back. This process made the story shine – and eventually seeing the gorgeous art come back was the most exciting part!