Comic Book Harlequin Romances

After years of successfully publishing over 250 Harlequin stories in a graphical format in Japan, Harlequin has teamed up with Dark Horse Comics to produce and market Harlequin manga for the North American market!

Calling the manga line “Ginger Blossom”, Harlequin has provided two different levels of romance for this manga launch — a “sweet” romance with a pink cover, and a more intense romance with a violet cover.

Interesting that the sweet romance has the couple kissing, and the more intense romance has the couple merely spooning. Well, covers can be misleading…

Pink Harlequin
Dark Horse’s page for
“One In A Million”

Violet Harlequin
Dark Horse’s page for
“Response”

What’s the big deal about what seems to be just another line of manga on the shelves?

From the press release:

“Harlequin Ginger Blossom is a romantic step above much of the cookie-cutter manga hitting the shelves today. As a pioneer in introducing manga to North America, Dark Horse is committed to bringing truly unique editorial such as this to a new audience.”

In other words, Harlequin knows the market enough to present to the audience something that they’re pretty sure will sell. Dark Horse will make sure that Harlequin doesn’t have to worry about the romance distributors balking at adding manga to their mostly prose distribution network. Unfortunately, it will also be added to the manga section of the bookstores rather than the romance section – which may or may not be the best move. Seeing as the audience they’re going for here is already reading manga, on the surface, it’s a good move. On the other hand, the manga section is a long way away from the other Harlequin titles in the store…

Personally, I’m more than happy about this development. I enquired about the possibilty of Harlequin printing romance comics several years ago. One editor gave me several of the Japanese Harlequin comics/manga, and I scanned several pages. You can see those Harlequin manga pages here. Later on, I even took a five pages of an Oni Press romance comic and showed them to another editor at Harlequin, only to find out that Harlequin HAD discussed printing romance comics and after doing market research, decided the time “wasn’t right”. The explosion of manga sales in North America since then changed their minds, certainly. Nice to see the original decision wasn’t rock solid and that Harlequin is capable of changing their minds on a matter such as this.

The manga market is big in Japan, and sales of translated manga is growing here, but I feel that American stories are better suited to American markets. This is why I feel Harlequin is ideally suited for the genre.