The first months of the new year are, among other things, awards season – definitely for television and film (and animation), with the Golden Globes now finished, the Annie Awards coming up next month, and of course then the Oscars. The academic world does not and will never have anything like these awards ceremonies, but research that deserves recognition can receive it. The Society for Animation Studies presents its Norman McLaren/Evelyn Lambart Award for the best scholarly book and best scholarly article on animation – Marco Bellano received the 2010 article award for “The Parts and the Whole: Audiovisual Strategies in the Films of Hayao Miyazaki and Joe Hisaishi” (Animation Journal, 18, 4-55), and Tzu-Yue G. Hu and Jonathan Clements were runners-up for the best scholarly book one with Frames of Anime: Culture and Image-Building (2011) and Anime: A History (2015). It also presents the Maureen Furniss Award for Best Scholarly Paper in Animated Media – in 2017, to Jacqueline Ristola, for Realist Film Theory and Flowers of Evil: Exploring the Philosophical Possibilities of Rotoscoped Animation. Similarly, when the Comics Studies Society launched its program of prizes last year, it recognized Andrea Horbinski with an honorable mention in the Best Graduate Student Conference Presentation category for her talk “Something Postmodern Going On: The Queering of the Manga Sphere in the 1970s”, at On Belonging: Gender, Sexuality, and Identity in Japan.
The Eisner Awards – the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards – are the Oscars of the comics industry and really, the world of comics. But, unlike the Oscars and other awards ceremonies, the Eisners do have a “best scholarly/academic work” category. And the judges for this year’s awards are now accepting submissions for consideration to be nominated for the award in all categories – including this one. There are no formal criteria for eligibility other than that the title had to have been “shipped to retailers in the U.S.” or available online between January 1 and December 31, 2018. So, what are the prospects for scholarly/academic works on manga in the 2019 Eisners? Unlike 2016, when Boys Love Manga and Beyond was nominated, last year, there were no scholarly/academic books specifically on manga published in English and available in the U.S. But, a chapter on manga can also appear in an essay collection on comics more generally. And, so far, I have been able to identify at least three such essay collections:
The Cambridge History of the Graphic Novel – “from its origins in the nineteenth century to its rise and startling success in the twentieth and twenty-first century” emphasizes the role of manga with a “The Influence of Manga on the Graphic Novel” chapter.
Comics Studies Here and Now (Routledge), which itself proclaims to be a sort of “best of” current scholarly writing on comics around the world, includes the chapters “Jiro Taniguchi: France’s Mangaka” (Bart Beaty), and “Only a Chilling Elegy: An Examination of White Bodies, Colonialism, Fascism, Genocide, and Racism in Dragon Ball” (Zachary Michael Lewis Dean).
Finally, Animal Comics: Multispecies Storyworlds in Graphic Narratives (Bloomsbury Academic) is a much narrower and specialized work – it does not make a claim to be a comprehensive history or to “mark the arrival of comics studies scholarship that no longer feels the need to justify itself within or against other fields of study.” But, the chapter “Invasive Species: Manga’s Insect-Human Worlds” is an in-depth reading of Yu Sasuga and Kenichi Tachibana’s manga Terraformars – the first one in English that I am aware of.
The deadline for publishers to submit their titles for consideration to be nominated for the award (and so, listed on the final ballot that will be distributed to the comics industry professionals who will then actually vote for it) is March 15. And when the nominees are announced, I hope to see all three of these books, as well as any others that I may have missed, on the final list!
Note – for a running list of books that are at least eligible to be nominated, please see the Comic Arts Forum’s Comics Scholarship Bibliography. The one covering January 2017 through July 2018 is now available, and the July-December 2018 list is scheduled to be published later this month.
So, right now, all I will say is, good luck to everyone who is involved with this process – and, thank you for your work! Now, let’s look forward to the actual nominations being announced – as they usually are around the end of April.