Manga author Shuho Sato reported via his Twitter on Thursday that he had cancelled his publishing contract for his Say Hello to Black Jack medical manga with Kodansha, and that he had received a certificate from them confirming that the two parties no longer had a contract.
Sato expressed his dissatisfaction with Kodansha, saying that the publisher were “making light of him.” He explained that the certificate was stamped with the seal of the editor-in-chief of Morning, the magazine that Say Hello to Black Jack was serialized in, rather than the Kodansha company seal; the certificate is technically for an agreement between Kodansha and Sato’s own company. In a follow-up post, he stated that as a result of the contract being cancelled, the book is immediately considered as out of print, and that readers who find any unreturned copies of the title in bookstores should report them as “illegal publications.”
Sato later deleted the tweets and directed readers to his blog, where he stated that all copies of the title held by Kodansha will be disposed of by May 20. He stressed that this situation is only for Say Hello to Black Jack, not his New Say Hello to Black Jack series, which is being published by Shogakukan. He also noted that he has plans to make all derivative usage of the title, both commercial and non-commercial, free to anyone as of September 15, and said that he will release a usage agreement with further details in both Japanese and English in the future.
Sato has been pursuing online manga publication since 2009, and launched his Mangaonweb.com manga publishing website in 2010. Sato has also been vocal on the topic of manga creators’ financial situations, making detailed posts about his magazine income versus his costs.
In 2010, Sato refused to draw a cover for the ninth and final volume (pictured above) of his New Say Hello to Black Jack series, stating that publishers do not pay artists for cover illustrations on compiled manga volumes, and that he therefore saw no reason to work for another company for free.
Say Hello to Black Jack continues to be available online for free in Japanese on Sato’s website.