Otaku USA Magazine
A Chat with GEN Manga’s Robert McGuire

It isn’t always easy to get your hands on doujinshi in America, especially doujinshi that’s been translated. Robert McGuire, who has a history in Japanese publishing, is taking a novel way of bringing doujinshi to readers. He’s begun publishing GEN Manga, a monthly doujinshi collection. Several issues are now out, all of which can be found at www.genmanga.com.  McGuire will soon be manning a booth at New York Comic-Con, but before hitting the convention, he told Otaku USA about GEN.

What can you tell us about GEN Manga? 

GEN Manga is now America’s number one source for original doujin manga. GEN is a monthly publication that introduces new, never before published manga to American readers. It comes out in English and Japanese simultaneously. It can be downloaded, read, and kept on your computer or any digital device. GEN is also published in limited edition print form.

How do you get the talents for it? Do people submit, or do you find them? 

Talent comes from a collection of different things. I look for professional grade quality work that shows originality and confidence. I also look for work that tends to be a little more thoughtful and developed when it comes to the plot and story. The stories that find their way to GEN tend to follow classic and proven manga themes. 

How I get my talent? It’s kind of complicated and simple at the same time. It’s really the same way most editors find new work. Also, I speak Japanese, so of course that helps out a lot. Probably, the simple answer is, there is a lot of talent out there, it’s really just about narrowing it down to the stuff that’s good. And then cultivating it towards getting better. 

So, unfortunately, I can’t really give an exact answer. I can tell you that I get both submissions from creators and scout for new talent myself. I take multiple trips to Japan per year and have contacts that live in Japan. They help to send me new talent. Some of our creators have been published before through other outlets and some have not. However, all the work we publish in GEN is new work that has never been published elsewhere.

How did it get started? What’s your inspiration for it? 

GEN came from a collection of thoughts I had over years working with manga and Japanese publishing. I wanted to give Americans access to what Japanese readers have been enjoying for years. But American publishers were limiting themselves by digging manga into a very specific niche. But more than that, manga in English always came out way after it was already old news in Japan. And if that wasn’t enough, it was always over priced. I thought, why should it be this way? GEN attempts to solve all of these problems by making them irrelevant. English readers should also have access to the source, original grass roots manga straight from Japan. The inspiration for GEN came from my love and fandom for manga. 

What sort of doujinshi do you publish? 

GEN publishes serious doujinshi. No amateur work or porn. While that stuff has its place, GEN is dedicated to bringing readers quality independent work, free of market control. GEN stories are seinen and cover a variety of different sub-genres. GEN offers a sort of grab bag. Readers can enjoy a variety of different stories and hopefully find the ones they like. 

I think there is room for other stuff besides seinen. GEN will introduce a lot of different things as it moves forward. But I think that there is already plenty of shounen and shoujo. Other publishers have pretty much flooded the market with it. So I think one place where I can offer more variety and contribute more would be the more mature genre of seinen.

How can readers get GEN Manga? 

Subscriptions can be obtained through our website. Subscribers get unlimited access. That means to you can always read the latest edition and the previous edition as well. All older back issues are made free online. Also, if you like to collect or read it in print form, our print editions are available on Amazon. The links to those pages are also available on our website. 

What do you hope to accomplish with GEN? 

I hope to change the way we think about how we get and read manga. I think that the world is changing and there is no reason anymore to wait for the latest work. I also hope to introduce new manga stars to the world, not just Japan. Readers can expect our list to grow with a variety of exciting new work. There will also be tankobon available in the near future. 

What has fan reaction been? 

It has been overwhelmingly fantastic. I have been blown away by the amount of fan mail I have received. Not only from American readers, but from Japan, the UK, Italy, France and even Moscow! 

How did you get into manga?

I discovered manga, or rather anime, when I was about twelve or thirteen-years-old. I had just watched the film Akira for the first time. It was so powerful that it influenced me for the rest of my life. Ever since then, I have had an interest in anime and manga and it has pretty much defined my life. It was pretty much a natural path to the source, the original creators in Japan.