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Page 2 - Features ANIMEfringe: June 2000 - Page 3 Page 4 - Cover Story (cont'd)

Full Circle: The Unofficial History of MixxZine
By Adam "OMEGA" Arnold
Part One: "100% Pure Motionless Picture Entertainment"

A Moon Star Is Born

Victor Chin, who is currently the Director of Distribution for Mixx Entertainment, and Ron Scovil Jr., translator of Central Park Media's anime The Tale of Genji, had a company called Studio Phoenix that focuses on multimedia anime and manga projects. They met Stuart Levy, of the multimedia firm Japan Online, at an AOL entrepreneur trade show in 1996 and he expressed interest in wanting to do manga, as did Ron and Victor. One thing led to another, and they soon decided to combine their efforts with aid from the University of Southern California Annenberg Incubator Project. The initial site called Phoenix Atrium never saw a full launch. But, "MixxZine, or "CoMixx" as it was then, launched in its place on paper (ANN: An Interview with Ronald Scovil, Jr.)."

However, to compete with Viz's Manga Vision monthly anthology magazine they needed a series that would not only give Viz a run for their money, but blow them out of the water. In the Manga Scene section of Wizard #67 the announcement came "that a licensed, English-translated version of Naoko Takeuchi's original Sailor Moon manga will soon be available in the United Stated--one of four different manga titles (the other three to be announced shortly) which will be serialized in an upcoming American manga magazine, Mixx Zine."

MixxZine Previews Ad

When all the features were hammered out it was clear Mixx-Zine was something truly different. The magazine would follow a broad reader-base strategy with a magazine that sported glossy color covers and news print interiors that were, in Stu's words, "Thick and Cheap." The magazine's thickness came from the four full-paged manga titles; Tsutomu Takahashi's hard hitting homicide cop drama Ice Blade (Jiraishin), Hitosi Iwaaki's ultra-violent alien invasion story Parasyte (Kiseiju), CLAMP's fan-favorite RPG-themed Magic Knight Rayearth, and Naoko Takeuchi's much-loved Sailor Moon. That's two manga for Shonen Otaku and two manga for Shoujo Otaku, though from the beginning it was planned to split the magazine into two separate magazines, this was impossible at the time due to cost restraints. This "broad base" approach was patterned after the effects Sailor Moon had on the anime market. It was a given that the American readers would buy the magazine for Sailor Moon and then "discover the appeal of different manga styles in one comic series (Wizard #68)."

Carl Gustav Horn summarized the situation best with, "There's no doubt that Mixx Zine is an extremely ambitious--and risky, venture. […] But, there's no denying that the manga so much anime is based upon has lagged behind here thus far. Mixx Zine definitely means to change that."

Mixx-Zine 1-1Mixx-Zine 1-1 (August 1997) first saw the light of day as a special print run to coincide with a trade show as a promotional item. The VIP one year subscribers who signed up via Mixx-Zine's phone lines were rewarded with a special edition Mixx-Zine 1-1 which was planned to feature a gold boarder, but due to restraints it shipped with a grey boarder in March of 1997. Two months later, in May of 1997, the general market version was shipped to video game, comic book, and book stores. Rather good timing for on June 9, 1997, at 8:30 AM, Sailor Moon was revived on USA Network as a part of the USA Action Extreme Team line-up. The Mixx revolution had begun.

Building a Better Magazine

The survey that appeared in the pages of Mixx-Zine 1-1 filled two purposes. The first was clearly to get a reader reaction to having Sailor Moon with two male oriented stories that were no more violent than the average video game. The second was to give readers their chance at collecting ‘MixxMoney' for which they could trade their dollars in for merchandise and goods, such as the graphic novel collections that would appear in the future. The first chance to earn 100 MixxMoney, or MMs, was in the form of a survey that appeared on page 208 of the first issue, right on the back of the final page of the first Sailor Moon story. Readers who sent it in were entered into a database with the VIP subscribers, who also received MMs for joining, so the dollars earned could be tracked and used at a later date.

The survey provided a forum for Mixx Publications, Inc. to gauge who was reading Mixx-Zine and what the readers were looking for. The questions covered the basic info of name and address, to hobbies and occupation, personal information like allowance and salary, and merchandising questions about the planned graphic novels and MixxGames as well as the possibility of an anime division.

MixxZine Subscription CardThe second batch of Toy's ‘R' Us exclusive Sailor Moon videos came packaged with Mixx-Zine subscription cards that could be redeemed for a free issue with no obligation of having to subscribe. Depending on when the card was mailed, the date Mixx-Zine received the card determined which issue would be sent, for it took a while for it to be processed. So if the card was mailed when Mixx-Zine 1-1 was being shipped the free issue would of been 1-2 when it was shipped. But, in some instances the free issue turned out to be issue 1-3, even if two cards were mailed at once. Interestingly, the invoice request for subscription read like a bill with the body featuring: "Thank you for subscribing to MixxZine -- 100% Pure Motionless Picture Entertainment featuring Sailor Moon, Parasyte, Rayearth, and Ice Blade. You should be receiving your first issue soon if you have not received it already. In order to receive the remaining issues of your MixxZine subscription (6 issues per year), you must complete the above payment coupon and return it in the envelope provide. The next issue will be mailing soon, so please act now in order to avoid missing an issue. Please disregard this invoice if payment has already been sent."

Mixx-Zine 1-2When Mixx-Zine 1-2 (October 1997) hit the stands it was clear that the magazine had made another evolution based on readers reaction. The paper stock went from a high-grade newsprint to glossy stock paper which many of the top comic books and magazines were using. This change instantly increased the sharpness of the lines but also made the background page colors much darker, a small price to pay to get an anthology magazine that rivaled the original Japanese version in paper quality. The magazine's actual dimensions changed as well. The second issue was one centimeter smaller in height, making it the same size as a normal comic book. Along with these changes, the company itself also underwent a change as it transformed from Mixx Publications, Inc to Mixx Entertainment, Inc. and moved from Olympic Blvd to W. Adams Blvd in Los Angeles, California.

For many readers, issue one was excellent, but the Postal Service was not kind to the magazine causing it to become torn, bent, and ragged. Reader letters pointing out this fact pushed Mixx to decide that Periodical Poly-bagging was needed to keep the issues safe. This helped ensure that a higher number of issues would survive the long trek from Mixx to the reader's mailbox. But, nothing is ever sacred to the postal service. On a side note, the second issue of Mixx-Zine literally shipped to the newsstands before it was shipped to the subscribers. In issue three's case, the opposite was true.

MixxGames Failed Attempt at the Market

GraduationAs Mixx-Zine 1-1 was hooking readers, Mixx Entertainment's software division, MixxGames, was hard at work finishing up localization of the lifesim Graduation for Windows 95. Though originally advertised to be released July 15, 1997, the game was not "100% complete, packaged and shipping" until the first week of August. Though this was a typical delay which virtually all games go through, Graduation did not see a domestic release because most large-scale stores do not trust games of Graduation's sim-like nature to sell. This fact doomed the game to be a web-only commodity.

The English release of Graduation is actually the second game in the series from which the original game spawned a Graduation anime, an alternative-universe Sailor Victory series, and a sequel series called Marriage, all of which are 2-part OVA series. In many ways the sequel took the original concept and made a new game which was true to the original but gave enough innovations for gamers to be satisfied.

The MixxGames' packaging is, in all practically, a waste of space in that the game comes in a single white CD envelope contained inside of a gigantic empty box with no other documentation (the documentation is on the CD). The box has several screen captures taken from the game at various points, though none of them show the actual school portion where the majority of the game takes place. But, the game is an exceptionally entertaining game for its time. Though it won't give you "Over 100 hours of game play" like the box says, it will give a challenging and fun romp that should not be overlooked. [For more information on the story and actual game play behind Graduation, be sure to visit Charles Don Hall's Graduation Webpage.]

Other programs that were made include the Sailor Moon, Ah My Goddess!, and You're Under Arrest U-Print CD-Roms which are anime-themed graphic programs with allow the user to print their own stationery, postcards, posters, and calendars. The Japanese division also produced a series of U-Print CD-Roms as well as over 20 Japanese edutainment CD-Roms.

"I Want My Mixx-Zine!"

Previews Cover of Mixx-Zine 1-3The September 1997 Previews solicitation for Mixx-Zine 1-3 (December 1997) unwittingly caused a slight stir on mailing list and message boards on the Internet as comments about the cover which has a photo of the SM Dancers taken at Altanta's video game convention E3. The controversy steamed from the fact that the costumes had been modified to show bare mid-rifts and for some reason the photo showed Sailor Moon as having ‘wings' which she shouldn't have at that time. Overall, a rather silly stir which was swept under the rug because the actual issue featured the Naoko Takeuchi cover from the second Sailor Moon graphic novel with a different shot of the SM Dancers to the right of the MixxZine logo.

Mixx-Zine 1-3The third issue of Mixx-Zine did expand on the MixxMoney concept and gave another chance for readers to fill out a survey. A new section called Mixx Hot Pix was added right after the masthead which featured various clips of manga edited to showcase items such as video games, trading cards, and cosmetics. At the same time, the issue let the cat out of the bag that Mixx-Zine was planning on starting another magazine and asked for help to make it successful. The hush-hush announcement asked readers to send in favorite pictures so they could be published in the new magazine. The announcement also gave word that, "In the next Mixx, we will tell you more about the new mag." Something new was definitely brewing in the air.

Mixx-Zine 1-4February 1998's Mixx-Zine 1-4 unveiled the MixxMall where the full details of the MixxMoney was finally hammered out. In order to earn or burn MMs, you had to be a Mixx Subscriber, but anyone could order products from the MixxMall. The two items available were the computer games The 3D Adventures of Sailor Moon by 3VR and MixxGames' Graduation, but subscribers could also burn their MMs on exclusive MixxZine T-shirts (300 MMs), Authentic Rayearth and Sailor Moon Animation Cells (1500 MMs), and an Exclusive Naoko Takeuchi Authentic Signboard (3000 MMs). The issue also moved the Reader Art and Letters Pages to the front of the book and made them full color.

Magic Knight Rayearth Mixx Manga Vol.1 (Pocket Size Version)Crammed between the fourth installments of Ice Blade and Parasyte was the third Mixx page featuring some of the most important announcements the magazine has seen thus far. The Mixx Pocket Manga were announced at the starting price of $11.99, a price cheaper than other publishers graphic novels. The first release would turn out to be Magic Knight Rayearth Vol.1 at the same time issue 1-5 would be released. Sailor Moon would soon follow afterwards. Further announcements called for the creation of a Web Board on the Mixx-Zine site as well as more site updates and the possibility of a pen-pal or bulletin board area in Mixx-Zine.

The Biggest surprise of all came from the full page advertisement for the new magazine SMILE. "Coming soon from Mixx Entertainment. A hot new photo/style magazine for the fashionably gifted- SMILE." The ad went on to give a run-down of the magazine's features; street fashion, photo stickers, shopping spree, accessories, fun fotos, guy watch, hangouts, love Q&A, available bachelors, and fiction. Later in the magazine, page 103 featured the Important Announcements where the full information of the magazine was reviled:

"Mixx Entertainment's new fashion & foto magazine, SMILE!
Did u notice kewl-looking ad for our new magazine Smile? Well, we've finished the prototype, which looks very stylin'. Now we're starting to collect fotos and other stuff for the Premiere issue. It will be released this Spring or early Summer. So, for those of u who are into Smile, it will be emphasizing fotos of your friends, kind of like a school yearbook, as well as street fashion, fiction, illustrations, boys, and other stuff. The magazine's pretty much for girls, but since a lot of cute girls' photos will be published, guys should consider checking it out 2...u might find a cute girl. Anywayz, we're looking for Mixxers who want to help us gather info and fotos. If you're interested, please e-mail to smile@mixxonline.com. It'll be tons of fun, and u can be located anywhere in North America. If you're a student (Junior High, High School or College), that's ideal. E-mail us!"

"The Mixx Revolution continues!"

Mixx-Zine 1-5The good news just kept on coming. Mixx-Zine 1-5 (April 1998) heralded the announcement of the 5th Mixx Story, Harlem Beat, a sport manga by Yuriko Nishiyama which is serialized in one of Japan's most popular manga magazines, Shonen Magazine. The new manga would make its dramatic debut in issue 1-6, but this very issue featured the cover of the graphic novel as a teaser as well as a MM Contest in which contestants could fill in dialogue for a page of Harlem Beat, he two winners dialogue entries would go on to appear in issue 2-1.

Sailor Moon Mixx Manga Vol.1The MixxStore page had been expanded with pre-order info on not two, but three Mixx Pocket Manga Books; Magic Knight Rayearth Vol.1, Sailor Moon Vol.1, and Parasyte Vol.1. The books were to be released in April and in the ad featured their original covers, though the actual releases of Sailor Moon Vol.1 and Parasyte Vol.1 featured drastically different covers upon their release, much to the dismay of fans. The MixxMoney burn section was also expanded to offer a P-Anime Ryo-Ohki Mouse Pad (150 MMs).

On the web, Mixx-Zine's site featured a extended gateway page that presented to dawning of the Mixx Revolution before going to a core page where visitors could click on an image map featuring links to the main Mixx page as well as manga info pages. The main Mixx page in April 1998 presented info on the Harlem Beat and long term plans for Ice Blade that hadn't made it into magazine; "Our next title is HARLEM BEAT!! If you've never heard of it, don't worry, it's a basketball title and it's really cool. We'll be putting Ice Blade on vacation for an issue or two, but we'll bring it back to finish up the current story. Some of you love Ice Blade and some don't, but we'll definitely be finishing up the current story. But for now, enjoy Harlem Beat!"

The rest of the page went on to discuss the Pocket Manga books, give a link to the web board registration page, a banner page so people can link to Mixx, the company statement, as well as Stu's words, a place for Stuart Levy to talk directly with readers about the latest happenings in his life and with Mixx. Pretty much your basic, down-to-earth web site.

Mixx-Zine 1-6To round out the first year of Mixx-Zine, Issue 1-6 (June 1998) was a shining example of how far Mixx-Zine had come. They had gone from four advertisers to a full range of advertisers, and this would be the last time B.U.M. Equipment would dominate the back cover on a regular basis. The issue also featured Stafford Smith's Atom Girl on the contents page with a caption of "‘Why is this here?!' Is that what you are thinking? ‘Cause it's phun art done by Stafford Smith, who lives in Japan! Tell us what u think!!" Besides that, the issue's major announcements consisted of expoundings of previous announcements, but they were all dominated by word that Naoko Takeuchi, the creator Sailor Moon would appear at the 1998 Comic-Con in San Diego. Definitely not a bad way to wrap up a years worth of the Mixx experience.

Next Chapter: Entertainment For The New Millenium -->




Page 2 - Features ANIMEfringe: June 2000 - Page 3 Page 4 - Cover Story (cont'd)
Original Material 1999 / 2000 ANIMEfringe, All Rights Reserved. 
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