“It’s this weird feeling that we are getting punished for supporting the creators and the industry.”
Jin Chan Yum Wai, a Beijing-based comic creator and subscriber to VIZ’s simulpublishing Weekly Shounen Jump (WSJ), is like most fans. He wants to read the latest issue and talk with other fans without spoilers.
Unfortunately, these simple wishes become difficult to fulfill in a time where Weekly Shounen Jump scanlations hit the internet days before its official Japanese and English release on Monday. Highly organized and speedy groups like Manga Stream are changing the fan experience of some of the most popular (and licensed) manga titles like My Hero Academia, Haikyu!!, and One Piece. Screencaps and spoilers from these early leaks riddle social media and forums soon after scanlators update the series online.
I wish people who read illegal fan subs wouldn’t tweet out spoilers for My Hero before the official English release comes out in Shōnen Jump. This would have been an exciting moment but not anymore pic.twitter.com/X6IQXrd4oA
— Mitch (@Shilverow) August 18, 2018
As discussed in our interview with VikingHedgehog, one of the moderators of the r/haikyuu Reddit community, Manga Stream has contributed to an environment where speed is supreme, and a multitude of fans quickly devour chapters and discuss within hours of the scans’ release. Much to the dismay of fans like Jin, English speaking fandoms has seemingly moved on by Monday, leaving a trail of spoilers behind them.
To talk with fellow subscribers to Weekly Shounen Jump who face similar problems, Jin created a server without leaks or spoilers. We spoke with Jin about this new server along with his experience as an artist.
Hi! I’ve created a Weekly Shonen Jump discord server! It’s designed as a place to discuss the latest issues of @VIZMedia‘s @shonenjump issues free from scanlation spoilers and leaks. Come join the discussion!https://t.co/8diSXBEJp1#manga #weeklyshonenjump #supportofficialmanga
— Jin Chan Yum Wai (@jazzyjin) September 18, 2018
“So many people are getting free content and they think that’s the way it should be.”
Manga Planet: Could you please introduce yourself to the readers?
Jin: I’m Jin! I’m an Australian living in China working as a designer and artist in the games industry as well as creating the manga Xero: King of Thieves serialized in Saturday AM, a digital manga anthology magazine. I’m also just a fan of Shonen Jump, so I created a Discord server to talk about it!
Manga Planet: Thank you! What makes this server different from other servers?
Jin: My server is dedicated to the VIZ publication of the magazine. It’s basically a safe place for fans who subscribe to the magazine to chat about Shonen Jump without worrying about spoilers from scanlations that tend to pop up before the official release date.
Manga Planet: So it is safe to say that you subscribe to VIZ’s Weekly Shounen Jump? To double check, people can subscribe to it in China?
Jin: I do subscribe. You can’t technically in China. But I started my subscription when I was still living in Australia. So I can still see the latest issues in the app. But there are ways to access it through a VPN if it’s unavailable in a certain region.
Manga Planet: Thank you for clarifying that. What is your opinion on the state of WSJ scanlations?
Jin: I find my opinion on scanlations gets stronger as I get older. I think that myself being a creator also influences my opinion strongly too. I don’t think they are good. It’s stealing. But what makes it worse is that the scanlation culture has sort of warped the narrative so that people think it isn’t
Manga Planet: Warped narrative, do you mean how they justify why they do it? Right now we are doing many interviews with scanlators, and it would be interesting to hear what you mean.
Jin: That’s one end of it, and the other end of it is that some people think they are an official source.
Manga Planet: How has being a creator influenced your opinion of scanlation?
Jin: I think a good example is with my prior series. I was doing a webcomic called High School Romance. I was publishing it on webcomic websites Webtoon and Tapastic as well as its own website.
This series was uploaded for free, so anyone can read them, even now. I used to try and upload about three pages every two weeks or so. Sometimes less. I remember one week I uploaded a couple of pages on webtoon and I got a comment. Something along the lines of “way too short, other people upload more pages, and they do it faster.”
As you can see in the image, I sort of lost my temper.
Now I’m doing about three pages every two weeks. I don’t get paid when they read my comic, just imagine pumping 20+ pages a week and someone just reads it for free.
As a creator, I’m seeing this from a different perspective. I’m putting my stuff out there for free so people can enjoy my work. The problem is that people aren’t grateful that they are getting free content. They feel like they are entitled to free content.
I think scanlations has played a huge part in that. So many people are getting free content and they think that’s the way it should be.
Manga Planet: How do you feel about scanlators? Is there anything you wish scanlators understood?
Jin: I think scanlators originally were well-intentioned, it’s now just become a business. They must be passionate to put so much work into doing what they do. But it’s stealing and illegal. And they know it. I know sometimes the argument is that they are helping bring series that would never get translated officially.
But what I would say is if you are really that passionate about it, why not put a business together and actually get the license to these titles that would have never seen the light of day.
Manga Planet: Would it be possible to know what you meant by “become a business” in your last answer?
Jin: I’m willing to bet scanlation sites make a whole lot of money from ads. They absolutely make money. They do it for profit. Otherwise, I doubt people would put so much effort into something.
Manga Planet: At the end of the day, you believe scanlation hurts creators and the industry?
Jin: I do believe that. Let me give you an example of how it could be. There was a series running in WSJ called Red Sprite. Now it turns out it wasn’t that popular and ended up getting canceled after about nine chapters. I was really digging this series. I loved the art and the world. I wish it kept going. Now a title lives and dies based on its popularity in Japan. But does that have to be the case? What if the number of people who read scanlations all had a subscription to Viz’s WSJ and were all participating in the surveys. And we all decided we love Red Sprite, then I’m Shueisha would be listening. And maybe the series would still be running. Wouldn’t that be awesome!
Manga Planet: Going back to the server you created, you had called it a safe place for fans who don’t want spoilers. Would it be possible to hear about these spoilers and how it ruins the experience of those who subscribe?
Jin: Scanlators have figured out a way to get the latest chapters before they are released in Japan. So they tend to go up on their sites a couple of days before they are officially released. And since Viz has officially licensed the material, they can’t publish it before they are published in Japan. This results in people who subscribe to WSJ having to dodge spoilers as they wait for the official release. So that means they usually need to avoid places like Reddit, Twitter, so they don’t get the story ruined for them. It’s a shame because we want to talk about the latest chapters, but by the time we get them in many cases the conversation has moved on.
It’s this weird feeling that we are getting punished for supporting the creators and the industry.
Manga Planet: This is a weird state to be in, I agree. I live in Japan, and I have to admit I find it strange Jump comes out in English before it does in Japan.
Jin: It’s totally flip-flopped. We didn’t get Dragon Ball in the West till years later. Now we get it before that Japanese. Haha
Manga Planet: Do you believe the people who read Jump scanlations are also “fans” even if they don’t subscribe?
Jin: Sure. Just not a helpful one. What I would say to a fan is if they met the creator of the series they love which that have been reading illegally, would they tell that creator to their face that they don’t pay to see their content. If they couldn’t say it, it because they know what they are doing is bad. Maybe they should start paying for content just to say thank you to the people who work their asses off to bring them entertainment.
Manga Planet: I understand currently you use Patreon. We have noticed some people suggest artist should use Patreon instead of going to publishers to earn money for their work. Do you have any comment or response to people who bring up Patreon when the issue of scanlation hurting the industry comes up?
Jin: This goes back to what I was saying before about my comic. I have a Patreon, but I think I make $10 a month. That’s not a lot. When High School Romance was being published across multiple platforms, it had about 9000 subscribers and was averaging 30000 unique page views per update. $1 a month is not a lot of money. $12 a year. That’s one fast food lunch. If all my subscribers paid me $1 a month, I would be living very comfortably, and I will be able to pump out 20 pages a week.
Heck if half of my subscribers paid $1 a month, I would be comfortable.
Patreon is a great platform. The problem as I mentioned before is entitlement. People feel they are entitled to free content, so it’s very hard for creators and artists to rely on something like Patreon.
So I don’t think it’s realistic to think it will solve all the problems.
Publishers have a purpose. They make sure creators are making content, assign them editors to make sure they make the best product possible, and a billion other things in between. Most of all they let creators do what they do best, and that is to create. When you are running a Patreon what you want to be doing is creating but in reality 80% of your time you are doing other things.
I think that Patreon excuse from people defending scanlations is all smoke and mirrors.
Manga Planet: Thank you for explaining all of this. Just for clarity, what are the other things in that 80% you are doing?
Jin: Fulfilling all the different rewards for the different tiers you have going. If you are trying to get a book printed, going to the printer, picking out paper reviewing proofs. Working a real job because the money you are getting on Patreon can’t support living costs and stuff like that.
Manga Planet: Recently we interviewed Cobalt001 about how 001_Rips illegally uploads manga and webcomics. Do you have any response to their activities?
Cobalt001: Yes. I believe people should have the choice whether or not to pay. This is the main reason I rip and upload comics today. I want to give people the choice to read a webtoon for free or to pay for it the legal way. If they really liked the series, they would probably be willing to pay for it to begin with or willing to donate to the author. On the other hand, if they never intended to pay to begin with, then the site was never going to make money from them anyway, whether or not I upload their comics elsewhere. I rip and upload to share content with people who can’t afford it or don’t feel comfortable paying for it. In my opinion, Webtoons is the ideal way to share webtoons, giving it out for free and offering Patreon as an optional payment method to support the author. (Which is why I never rip their comics.) I just wish more sites would follow suit.
Jin: What baffles me is that they are so against the “service” they ignore that their actions affect the “creator.” The people they steal from are smaller creators, which makes it doubly worse.
I have no words…