TOKYOPOP CEO Stu Levy Steps Back in Company
TOKYOPOP founder and CEO Stu Levy created the company in 1997, back when it was called Mixx and had manga published serially in Mixxzine magazine. It became a big manga publisher in the scene early on, but then ceased its North American operations in 2011. Some years went by, and then TOKYOPOP declared in 2018 that it had new manga licenses again for North America. Since then it’s continued to publish more and more titles, but there’s a big change going on, too — Levy, who has been there since the beginning, is stepping back.
Asked about rumors of Levy stepping back, Kae Winters of Tokyopop responded to ICv2:
“Stu’s been a major part of TOKYOPOP for so long, but with his own family now – and his move to Germany – we knew he’d step back eventually. Marc [Visnick ]’s been a natural fit with our team, and we’re really excited to be moving forward with him at the helm.”
After this Levy remarked that “the term ‘step back’ is a bit ambiguous,” and went on to say, “In our case, it doesn’t mean that I have no involvement, but more that I need to focus on overall group strategy for TOKYOPOP instead of day to day operations.”
Levy further remarked:
“I’m very passionate about this industry, and am particularly proud of what we, the 1st generation group of pioneers, have accomplished. My peers – such as John O’Donnell, Shawne Kleckner, John Ledford, Gen Fukunaga, Kurt Hassler, Chris Macdonald and a handful of others – and I paved the way for Japanese and Asian pop culture to make it to the US, which I believe contributed significantly to our society by opening up the eyes of younger generations, who embraced the same incredible magic that we fell in love with originally. Back in the day, during what I call TOKYOPOP 1.0 – also what we were calling the Manga Revolution, it was a battle just to get the gatekeepers (big retailers, Hollywood execs, the media etc) to even show an interest in ‘otaku culture’. It was too ‘niche’, they said. Now, thanks to the incredible success of next-gen entrepreneurs like Kun Gao at Crunchyroll and others, everyone knows about our culture. The movement has become established. In that sense, my job to popularize the movement is over – and successful. But I still have my company TOKYOPOP and believe we can contribute value to the resulting ecosystem.”
Marc Visnick became TOKYOPOP’s COO and publisher earlier this year. That means he is managing print, digital, editorial, marketing, distribution and sales for TOKYOPOP’s North American manga.
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.