Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Comics That Will Never Be Reprinted

It's no secret that there is money to be made in the reprinting of vintage comics. Certainly, both Marvel and DC have been mining their back catalogs as best they can. There are some stumbling blocks along the way, though. Reprint fees are a concern, and then there's the thorny issue of licensing. Already, collections of titles like Shazam! and Marvel Two-in-One have had to skip stories because the publishers no longer hold the rights to characters appearing in them. This sort of thing will continue, and it means there is at least one comic book series that will almost certainly NEVER be reprinted in any form.

That series is Marvel Comics' Shogun Warriors.

To give a bit of background for those coming late to the party, the Shogun Warriors were a line of toys produced by Mattel, through an arrangement with the Japanese company Popy. These robots weren't original toy creations - each was a licensed property based on either an anime or a tokusatsu production. When Marvel gained the license to put out a comic book based on the "Shogun Warriors" property, that complicated things. They couldn't just use any robots they wanted in their stories. In fact, they were limited to only three :

1) Raydeen - based on 勇者ライディーン/Yuusha Raideen

2) Combatra - based on 超電磁ロボ コン・バトラーV/Chodenji Robo Combattler V

3) Dangard Ace - based on 惑星ロボ ダンガード A (エース)/Wakusei Robo Danguard Ace

There were requests for other "Shoguns" to be used in the book, but for various reasons, it was for naught. Doug Moench and Herb Trimpe did a workmanlike job on the title, comparable to their run on Marvel's Godzilla comic book. And as you may know, that series was reprinted in a B&W "Essential", through a special arrangement with Toho. Such a fate will probably be denied the thematically similar Shogun Warriors

So, what is the real problem? Well, for most properties, there is a single license holder. The Shogun Warriors is different. To reprint this comic, Marvel would need to deal with a licensing FOUR separate properties - each robot, and the title itself. And the reality of the relative values of those properties is far different than it was in 1979.

Here's how the indicia of a typical issue of Shogun Warriors broke it down (note that I'm not reproducing the whole thing, and the weird capitalization was in the original) :
  • Combatra Copyright ©1979 Hiromi Pro/Toei
    I don't really know how "Hiromi Pro" (also associated with the tokusatsu series THUNDERMASK) fits into this, but Toei Video released a DVD box set of COMBATTLER V. You might notice that the only copyright notice on the page is for "Toei". Interestingly, that doesn't say "Toei Animation", but simply Toei.


  • Dangard Ace copyright ©1979 Reiji Matsumoto/Toei Animation
    Leiji Matsumoto (his preferred Romanization) is renowned for things far, far bigger than DANGUARD ACE, but I'd assume he's still involved with it. Toei Animation definitely is.


  • Raydeen copyright ©1979 Tohokushinsha
    Tohokushinsha is still going strong, and so is Raideen. In fact, there was a brand-new series just two years ago!


  • SHOGUN ™ and SHOGUN WARRIORS ™ are trademarks of MATTEL, INC. and are used with permission.
    I'm not linking to Mattel's site, as you can find it on your own if you're so inclined. I'll hazard a guess that they probably don't have a trademark on "shogun" anymore, and possibly not even "shogun warriors". I mean, wasn't there a totally unrelated video game by that name? However, their distinctive logo was still used, and I can't see how you could exclude Mattel as a result.


Can you say "cost prohibitive"? It's a shame - Shogun Warriors is a fun comic, even if it has absolutely zero to do with its source material. But because reprinting it would be just too astronomical to be worth it, it must be consigned forever to the dusty back issue bins of history.

1 comment:

Richard Stodder said...

"Can you say "cost prohibitive"? It's a shame - Shogun Warriors is a fun comic, even if it has absolutely zero to do with its source material. But because reprinting it would be just too astronomical to be worth it, it must be consigned forever to the dusty back issue bins of history."
Actually the market for it would be very good right now as this is the era it would survive and thrive in.. they introduced Transformers/Power Rangers/Gobots/the entire gundam franchise.. .they are all thriving and pulsing with life.. So yeah.. it might be costly at first.. But projections clearly show it would catch and take off.. just drop the old school kiddie attitude of less Violence for the kids... make it something that can be edged towards the anime generation of today like gundam/robotech/ect.. I bet you would not ONLY do well in the long run.. but would earn 3-4 times what it costs to get it started and kicked off back.
I have thought long and hard on revival of The Shogun Warriors and the possibilities are endless now. I think even a minor revamp on the sotry line would make it more pliable. Hel give me the money and the tickets and I will fly there tomarrow and secure the deal in 3 days time.