I’ve probably only read two things published by TokyoPop and neither of them were originally English-language comics. Which is to say that TokyoPop doesn’t interest me too much.
But it does seem like the Manga Pilot “contract” (or “pact” as they’re calling it) does exist to take advantage of young creators. Lea Hernandez has a great roundup of links here.
I like what Bryan Lee O’Malley has to say:
Listen to me: there are so many ways of getting your comics read by people. You can print them up on a photocopier, sell them at your local comic shop / record shop / independent bookstore. You can put them on the Internet – I believe you’re all familiar with this invention. It costs very little and takes away none of your rights. Many of my good friends make their living entirely from having comics on the web. You don’t need this.
And I think that’s the thing — TokyoPop may give creators exposure, but at what cost? Gene Luen Yang said that the awesome thing about comics is that you can draw one, make a copy and sell it to your mom for 25 cents and you’re a professional comic book artist.
I watched from as distance as MegaTokyo started out as a hobby of a couple of guys and then turned into a profession for one of them. Maybe that’s an anomaly, but it can be done. If someone wants to make comics, they don’t need TokyoPop to do so.