SNK’s Official Publications
Over the years, SNK has authorized a plethora of print publications regarding its games and characters, such as mangas and light novels. Unfortunately, the vast majority of this materials have never been officially published outside of Japan, and because of that, many fans are not even aware of their existence.
The purpose of this post is to briefly explain the differences between each type of material.
Official vs canonical
First, it’s important to note that despite being official, most of these publications are not considered canonical. This is due to the fact that SNK gives a lot of freedom for authors and artists to explore the characters and universes, thus being able to create and deepen interactions and scenarios that we don’t see in the games. There are cases where some ideas presented in mangas or novels are so well accepted that later the developers ended up canonizing them, but as a rule, what is considered canon is only what we see in the games, official sites and guide books.
Mangas are basically Japanese comics. Usually written and drawn by a single author, lots of SNK series have been adapted to mangas over the years. Some of them like Fatal Fury even have several versions by different authors. Mangas usually adapt the stories of specific games, such as Art of Fighting 1 and 2, KOF ‘94, World Heroes, among others. Currently, we have “KOF: A New Beginning”, which is an adaptation of KOF XIV, still in publication.
Manhuas refer to comics of Chinese origin. The adaptations of KOF and Capcom vs SNK series by the artist Andy Seto in particular are very popular as they are fully colored and have a strong and realistic artstyle. However, their stories usually take a completely different direction than what is seen in the games, even with the insertion of original characters.
Also a type of manga, anthologies gather stories from different authors about a specific topic. They can be comical, in 4koma format (strips with 4 frames), or more serious. It’s possible to find anthologies only from Fatal Fury, focused on KOF ’98, focused only on the relationship between Iori and Kyo, or even only about the SNK girls. The list is immense, and the contribution of Japanese fans was very active in this type of publication.
Very popular in Japan, light novels are books that contain some illustrations. There are light novels by a single author, as is the case with several novelizations written by Akihiko Ureshino, adapting and filling in gaps about games like KOF 2000 or The Last Blade. As a recent example, there’s “The King of Fantasy”, written by Nobuhiko Tenkawa.
Artbooks and Guidebooks
Artbooks are books for the appreciation of illustrations. In general, this type of book gathers images used directly in games as well as posters, studies and other official illustrations. But interestingly, in the late 90s, SNK authorized an artbook entitled “Scud Head!” by Rugal Gameo, an artist known for publishing KOF BL doujins. Many of the illustrations found in the artbook are even covers of their independent works.
Guide books, on the other hand, can contain a multitude of official information. From profiles, studies and curiosities about the creation of games and characters; command lists; strategy guides; official game introductions and endings; and even interviews with developers.
Unlike mangas, the information contained in guidebooks can be considered canonical, since the material disclosed refers to what was used directly in the games.