A chance meeting with the Card family leads to new manga series

By Jason DeAngelis

Attending the San Diego Comic-Con is like being jammed into a sweaty,Tokyosubway car during rush hour—for five days straight. A couple years ago, amidst all the convention chaos, I felt a great whoosh of fresh air when I first met Orson Scott Card at the Tor/Seven Seas booth.  In our conversation, I learned that Card’s youngest daughter is a big manga fan.

As a manga publisher, recently partnered with Tor, I’d been looking for Tor authors to team up with to create original manga projects with wide appeal. Who better than Orson Scott Card, whose seminal Ender’s Game might very well have started as an anime or manga in an alternate Japanized universe?

So, I tentatively suggested that Card and his daughter co-write an original manga series, half-expecting that he’d order me to commit seppuku on the spot. Instead, he seemed pleasantly intrigued. The next night, I sat down at a lovely waterfront restaurant with the Family Card, and we bounced around manga story ideas.

For a manga guy such as myself, it was a delight and an honor to have the opportunity to brainstorm story concepts with a writer of Card’s caliber. What impressed me even more, however, was the wealth of imagination and story savvy his daughters Emily and Zina displayed. The younger, Zina, was totally tapped into what the teenage manga crowd wanted; the twenty-something Emily had a firm grasp of story structure and character.  Scott had the know-how to bring it all together and ground the wild science fiction story elements in science fact.

Then and there, the Cards, as a family, began to hash out an epic storyline that worked not only as a manga series, but could also become a series of science fiction novels or even a tentpole movie—or, hey, a Japanese anime! Thus, Laddertop was born, over fine food and drink, and collaborative family storytelling at its best.

For fans of Ender’s Game, or people who like their graphic novels and manga with a science fiction bent, Laddertop is a must-read for kids and adults of any age.


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