First Look: ADV’s new PiQ Magazine Media/Vendor Kit

I got my hands on a copy of the media kit for ADV’s new magazine PiQ. Since I didn’t see any note of this over at Brigid’s always-excellent Mangablog (http://www.mangablog.net/), I assumed no one else has posted about this yet. So let’s pour over the entrails together, shall we?
Designed to replace the popular Newtype USA, PiQ (pronounced “peek”) (although I keep saying “pie-cue” whenever I see it) is taking a hard line away from the beleaguered anime industry and branching out to be the high-end American Otaku lifestyle magazine of choice. Why? Well, as I mentioned the anime industry may have had its worst year ever in 2007 (although I see them regrouping and putting it all together in the second half of ‘08), and because as Naruto has shown us, Japanese culture is more than just anime (or manga), and with North American iterations of previously Japanese-only endeavours like Capsule Toys, Manga, Gothic Lolita Culture, and anime making their mark on the nerd-culture industry, it looks like a license of a Japanese magazine covering a troubled industry just wasn’t going to cut it, going forward.

But the question is, will PiQ?

The PiQ media-kit I received included a letter from Publisher Gary Steinman, outlining the major changes that the magazine will undergo. It’s very important to note that throughout all of the commentary I’ve seen from ADV on this matter, including the media kit, PiQ is being treated as a name change to Newtype USA, and not as an entirely new magazine. While I have no firm answer as to why this is, I’d speculate that declaring it to be the same magazine but with a name change (not to mention a substantial format change…) means you get to maintain your existing distribution and subscription arrangements. But it’s pretty clear that the new boss ain’t the same as the old boss.

For starters, the magazine will shrink in size, both in physical dimensions and in page count. The new physical size is 8″ wide x 10″ tall, as compared to Newtype’s 9″ x 12″. The latest issue of Newtype weighs in at 160 pages, and the info for PiQ seems to be saying it’ll drop at around 130 pages. The price is also much lower, with the new magazine retailing for US$6.99/CDN$7.99, versus $12.98/$16.98 for Newtype. Oh, and the magazine will be perfect-bound rather than stapled, which means it’ll have a spine! No more free DVDs with each issue either, so far as I can tell. The big format change? PiQ will drop Newtype’s right-to-left Japanese reading orientation in favour of a standard left-to-right orientation. Essentially, the otherworldy Japanese “object” that was Newtype USA is gone, to be replaced by something that very-much resembles Wizard in size… and in tone.

According again to the Media Kit, the new editorial breakdown for PiQ will be:

    • 20% Anime
    • 20% Gaming
    • 20% U.S. Comics / Japanese Manga
    • 20% Genre Movies / TV / Home Video
    • 10% Toys / Collectibles
    • 5% Gadgets / Hi-Tech Gear
    • 5% Lifestyle (fashion, accessories, events)

Apparently PiQ is “entertainment for the rest of us, squarely addressing the needs of a cutting-edge young male audience,” and they’re estimating a 70/30 split in readership, in favour of male readers. This reads to be to be very, very similar to Wizard magazine, a jack-of-all-trades scenario.

Some final stats from the presentation:

    • PiQ is expected to have a 100,000 circulation at launch, with a target circulation of 150,000 by the end of 2008.
    • PiQ will launch with 15,000 subscribers, all of which are former Newtype USA subscribers. So, now you know how many people subscribed to Newtype.
    • The first issue of PiQ goes on sale March 18th, 2008.

Also included with the material I received, twice, was a mock-up of the first issue over. As noted on the cover itself this is a cover concept only, and is not necessarily going to be the final cover. However, it pretty clearly shows where the magazine is headed, and while it may have the bearing of Wizard, it looks an awful lot like video game magazine PLAY (which I love and is awesome). Lets take a look:

PiQ Issue One Concept Cover - Copyright 2008 AD Vision Inc.

PiQ Issue One Concept Cover - Copyright 2008 AD Vision Inc.

So, what do we see here? Well, the first and most telling thing is the comparison between this cover and the most recent Newtype USA. Where Newtype USA Jan 2008 features the names of tons of new anime series (at least two dozen by my count), an anime creator profile, an anime art book, and the words “Anime, Manga, Games, Music, more!” the focus on the new cover is all over the place. A Tokyo Travelogue! Cosplay! Anime! But also video games and LOST and Battlestar Galactica and Red Hulk and the promise of bulleted lists! (No manga?)

So there you have it, the inside scoop on (what might be) the first issue of PiQ. All you have to go on about this magazine being the same one as Newtype USA is the publisher’s say-so, with the magazine looking significantly different, and more generic, than what has come before. But honestly? This is probably a really smart move on ADV’s part, with magazine publishing being almost entirely advertising-driven, opening up your mag to the extremely lucrative advertising of the extremely lucrative video game field makes a hell of a lot of sense, and ending a licensing agreement for a magazine’s name and content that may or may not be contributing to your bottom line anymore? The same. The only thing up in the air is what the fans, anime fans, Newtype buyers and subscribers, are going to think of something that isn’t quite as OTAKU as they were hoping for. Hey, there’s always Otaku USA for you Otaku out there!

Still, I’m looking forward to the first issue. I think that, much like the comics industry needs something like COMICS FOUNDRY, it also needs something like this to supplant the rampant misogyny in Wizard’s magazine… Good luck guys.

- Christopher

14 Responses

  • a geek by any other name » Blog Archive » More On PiQ Says:

    […] Comic212’s Christopher Butcher received a media kit about ADV’s magazine PiQ, which is apparently both just a name change for Newtype USA and, at the same time, an entirely reworked magazine. […]

  • Sesho Says:

    I predict this book will bomb. I do not trust ADV. (I have still not gotten over its attempted single handed destruction of the manga industry). They seem to be incompetent at anything they do except making anime dvds. I too agree that Play magazine is great and ADV seems to be at the least “getting inspiration” from their cover designs. Its format, feel, and layout make Play one of the best gaming magazines. It also started to include a lot of information about Japan only games in the past year. Wizard magazine straight up sucks, and Anime Insider is not far behind it. Both are written for young boys. Play Magazine tried a similar thing with Rocket Magazine but I don’t remember seeing any issues of it lately. Has it been cancelled?

  • Halliday Says:

    I don’t know… this sort of reminds me of MiXXZiNE (remember that? Anyone?) after it’s transformation from it’s four issues of SHOUNEN JUMP-esque anthology style phonebook to a multi-media nerd-zine. At least that had Sailor Moon and Gundam going for it (though I hated the two-comic-pages-per-page orientation they switched too…). I think this should do well enough.

  • DFS Says:

    A couple of other reasons this is likely a good move. One, it gets them out from under the licensing agreement and content-sharing arrangement with Kadokawa Shoten (the Japanese publishers of Newtype), which was probably pretty expensive and of questionable value given ADV’s existing relationships with Japanese animation producters. Two, downshifting from the oversized ultra-glossy Newtype format lets them drop down to a reasonable cover price. I dunno who was paying $13 an issue for Newtype USA, but it wasn’t me.

    The decision to cover more gaming content is also not especially shocking when you consider that most of Newtype’s senior staff came from the gaming mags at Ziff-Davis. (Before Newtype, Gary Steinman was the number-two editor on Official US PlayStation Magazine.)

  • Roger Morse Says:

    So my question becomes: What makes this any different than “Wizard Anime Insider”, “Wizard Comics Magazine”, or any other assorted magazines that goes scattershot over the geek culture? oh, right… NOTHING!

    I’m rather disappointed by this, but I guess we could have seen it coming. The price point was too high. I could sell Japanese Newtype for less than the American version and still had a few people picking it up. All most people wanted it for was the “free” DVD anyway and a couple of times I found the freshly purchased magazine laying on the ground outside the store with DVD removed. So I guess ADV could have made a killing putting a couple first episodes and a few trailers on a DVD and selling them for $12.

    I don’t know about advertisers, but being in the anime business, I’d want more bang for my buck, so I’d be more inclined to advertise in a place I *knew* anime fans were reading. Thank goodness Otaku USA & Protoculture Addicts are still around.

  • Chris Says:

    Hey guys,

    I appreciate that you have your opinions about this, positive or negative, but lets all remember that we haven’t actually seen the magazine yet, just gotten an idea of what it might include. I can think of lots of great video game, movie, and gadget coverage that would totally appeal to anime fans, let alone otaku.

    - Chris

  • danno! Says:

    What a waste of trees.

  • Anime Kakumei » Blog Archive » A sneak peek at PiQ! Says:

    […] Via Animeondvd.com, Comics 212 has gotten ahold of a press kit for ADV’s new magazine PiQ (peek). If you’re interested in seeing in full what ADV’s magazine will look like and cover after Newtype USA is done, I suggest you check out the link. I’ll quickly cover some of the bullet points from the piece though. […]

  • Chris Says:

    I am sad to see Newtype USA go, though admitedly I have not really attempted to purchase or read an issue of it for some time just due to lack of interest. I think a general pop magazine is a much better route to travel, especially as the US Anime industry is crumbling. However, they will have to be careful not to alienate prior readers, especially with the book intending to be 70% male and only 20% anime.

  • Jevon Says:

    How can this thing stop the misogyny of Wizard, as you put it, while ADV is stating that “entertainment for the rest of us, squarely addressing the needs of a cutting-edge young male audience.” I am sorry, but this magazine is clearly more of the same ignorance that permeates most “geek” print media.

  • Chris Says:

    YES. CLEARLY. EVEN MORE CLEARLY SINCE NO ONE HAS SEEN THE MAGAZINE YET. SURELY THE MEDIA KIT AND A MOCK-UP COVER IS THE CLEAREST PICTURE OF THE CONTENT WE CAN GET. THANK YOU FOR PULLING THE WOOL FROM MY EYES, INTERNET VIGILANTE.

  • ferricide Says:

    yeesh, i don’t see any comments worthy of all caps vitriol, and that’s before i even take into account that we’re talking about anime fandom, which produces some of the most retarded posts on the interwebs.

    full disclosure: i’m talking to senior editor kevin gifford in AIM as i type this, so you could say that i am less than objective about the whole PiQ situation in the sense that this relates to the mortgage of one of my personal friends.

    by the same token, i am a reasonably outspoken critic of the anime and publishing industries.

    my reaction is that this is more like stuff or maxim for geeks, minus the breastises, really. just based on the graphic design and the attitude of the faux-cover. i do not have any inside infoz to confirm or deny this, as kevin is correctly circumspect about these things.

    i think that data that has come out publically makes it clear that the newtype USA business model was not working. now, the thing that would interest me is to find out how much of that was related to the obvious things (paying for the NT license, losing geneon as an advertiser) and how much of that was due to its editorial direction. one thing i think was great about newtype was its gender-neutral design; this screams male, though of course, using appleseed as the cover material really helps enhance that, so this could be related only to the sample image to a large extent.

    as was pointed out in the original post, male-targeting the mag really does increase its advertising potnetial. given that geneon going kerblooey was a probable major contributing factor to the death of NTUSA (geneon was its biggest adveritser) creating new baskets for their eggs seems like a great idea from a “keeping the magazine running” perspective. but it does make it seem less interesting.

    but yes, as is rightly pointed out repeatedly, we really do have no clue what the thing will really be like. so that’s something i’m very much looking forward to finding out.

    viva piq!

  • Chris Says:

    Ferricide- I have an exceptionally low tolerance for self-important fan-wank gnashing-of-teeth, and it’s my blog so I get to make fun of them. Hope that doesn’t offend too much.

    That said, your comment is really interesting. I think that, in general when it comes to anime culture, women (females) really do get the short end of the stick, with releases like Princess Tutu seeming like mana from heaven for most avid viewers, when there really is a ton of material out there to be licensed and enjoyed. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy the manga side of things so much more, the diversity of the material is wonderful. I do think it’s unfortunate that something as ‘neutral’ as NTUSA had to go away, but really, it’s NEWTYPE, you know? Gundam nerds and dudes that want to fuck Rei Ayanami are the #1 readership demo of this magazine in Japan, so it was never THAT female friendly. I think that Protoculture Addicts is a good example of something that is truly nerdcore, almost regardless of gender…

    I think Shoujo beat is selling a little under half of Shonen Jump, which illustrates the relative difference in size for the audience of a lot of this material, but both magazines are selling phenomenally well too, so I think there’s room for something on the stands lit NTUSA… OTAKU USA for example.

    I’m really curious about PiQ, more about the tone that the articles take rather than the content. It’s easy to cover boy-stuff without turning away the girls, but it’s even easier to turn your magazine into a toxic wasteland of “match the face to the boobs” articles.

    - Christopher

  • Shiroi Hane Says:

    I’m trying to figure out if 26 pages (130@20%) of actual anime content with no DVD is a good deal at half the price and I’m really not sure.

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