Friday, July 11, 2008

American-style manga series launches new virtual world

Storyboards Online announced today that it has joined forces with ShanghaiPop to simultaneously launch the first of four issues of an American-style manga mini-series, MechTechs, and its coordinating virtual world in November.

MechTechs is an international synergy conceived by an American, Storyboards Online CEO Scott Ownbey, written by a Scotsman, Gordon Rennie, produced in the Philippines by Storyboards Online artists and programmed in China by Shanghai Pop artists.

The series is set in a mecha garage run by a dysfunctional work family of sorts, a microcosm of the larger universe. The comedic dysfunction in the garage serves as the primary focus in the first issue of MechTechs, while outside of the garage there is perpetual fighting in mecha-fought tournaments.

The MechTechs virtual world will tap into the rapidly growing industry of virtual worlds, which has already snagged $345 million from U.S. investors this year alone. The creation of a virtual world is a natural adaptation for the manga series, as it provides the other-worldly characters from the series with a virtual world in which they can roam. Fans will be able to create avatars, network with other fans and compete for an opportunity to have their avatar featured in one of the MechTechs issues.

The mecha genre of manga is wildly popular worldwide.

Mecha features giant robots as the central characters. Gundam, one of the most popular Japanese mecha series, was originally published in 1979. Today, the $470 million enterprise has established itself as one of the longest running and most popular Japanese anime series, and also as a Japanese pop culture icon.

The U.S. equivalent of Gundam, Transformers, originally introduced in the U.S. as a toyline, hit the big screen for the first time in 1984. The 2007 live action film adaptation of Transformers had great success at box offices worldwide, grossing over $700 million.

MechTechs will feature the artistic contributions of the following Storyboards Online artists: graphics by Gaby Correa and Gisela Loscher (Florida office), character development by Andrew Santos and Godfrey Escota (Manila office), coloring by Mark Anthony Taduran and Mark "Mok" Joseph Vivas and penciling by newly discovered talent, Mikhail Garcia (Manila office). The project will be handled by Project Manager, Melody de Jesus.

Mecha fans that can’t wait until November to get a viewing of MechTechs can watch the characters as they are developed and interact with the artists via an artist cam on the MechTechs blogs: and

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