From the July 25, 2005 Publishers Weekly:
Talking Manga With Neil Gaiman
Calvin Reid: Why manga?
Neil Gaiman: I got the idea at the PW/AAP Summit meeting in April. Art Spiegelman and I decided to be on the graphic novel panel. At lunch, I sat next to Tokyopop president John Parker and he said he’d talked with the Jim Henson company about manga versions of the Henson films Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal, and he mentioned Mirrormask.
CR: Did you and McKean have plans for a Mirrormask graphic novel?
NG: We’ve been asked many times to do a Mirrormask graphic novel and said no. Dave always wanted Mirrormask the film. He had a concern that if there was a comic, people would think that the film was the aptation.
CR: What changed your mind?
NG: I liked the idea of a prequel. When we first meet Helena, the young girl who enters the fantasy world looking for the Mirrormask, a lot of backstory has gone on. We thought it would be nice to use the manga to fill in the story, so that it’s not simply an adaptation, but a complementary story. You can see the film or not. If you have seen it, it would add to the story.
CR: Do you read manga yourself? Do you like it?
NG: I like it, and I also have some experience with anime [Gaiman wrote the English adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki’s 1997 anime Princess Mononoke]. But I’m not the target reader. What I love about manga is its ability to reach this new audience of readers. I’ve been traveling through Singapore and New Zealand where manga has great market penetration. About 80% of the readers are girls; they’re all in the 1825-year-old range. They all read manga, and someone introduced them to the Sandman [Gaiman’s graphic novel series]. It’s really a good thing. Manga has sent all these readers to me.
With thanks to Batwrangler for the help!