2011 was a very strong year for new English-language academic/scholarly publications on anime and manga. These included four new monographs, a Collector’s Edition of Frederik Schodt’s seminal Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga (originally published in 1996), a new edited collection of essays on Japanese animation and comics, to add to Cinema Anime: Critical Engagements with Japanese Animation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) and Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime (M. E. Sharpe, 2008), 16 individual book chapters in other essay collections, and over 50 articles in various scholarly journals. In addition, 3 journals published special issues focused on anime/manga.
Once again, these books and journals spanned a wide range of fields and disciplines. While some were in the expected areas of animation and comics studies, film, literature, and East Asian/Japanese studies, some of the other areas that welcomed publications on anime/manga and related topics included urban studies, folklore, modern European history, and health communication. (more…)
When we use the term ‘manga’, what exactly do we mean? What are the components, or features, or characteristics of manga. Are these features or characteristics equal and equally necessary – does a work need to have all of them to qualify, or are some of them more fluid or optional than others. Is something either manga or not manga? Or can we talk about degrees or a spectrum? Can we say that one work is “more manga” than another? And, for that matter, how is the definition created? By whom? Why? When? How has it changed over the years? Are the borders of this definition subject to any kind of friction?
What do different scholars mean when they use the term ‘manga’ is a topic for another post. But it is clear that at least in America, manga has always meant something that can serve as a base or structure, but is open to modification. And a lot of the history of manga in America is a history of taking this term and all of its meanings, and creating new ones. So, from manga came the decidedly awkward Amerimanga (the title of an anthology magazine published over several issues by the long-forgotten Studio Ironcat; though it’s hard not to wonder whether “Amerimanga” was a conscious – or even unconscious – mirror image of the term “Japanimation”, which at one point in time was a perfectly acceptable way of referring to Japanese animation). From manga came OEL (Original English Language) manga, with the marketing and branding power of Tokyopop, for years, easily the most successful publisher of Japanese comics in English. From manga came “original-English language manga”, the preferred turn of phrase still used by the publisher Seven Seas Entertainment. And, from manga came “global manga”. (more…)
As an academic field, anime studies may not be quite as “hot” as it was a few years ago, at the height of the anime boom/bubble, when it could very well seem that images drawn from Japan were everywhere in Western visual culture. And even though that bubble burst, and Japanese animation is nowhere near as popular or prominent in the U.S. and other Western countries as it was a decade ago, one particular effect of that bubble, an effect that we are still seeing now, is a steady stream of academic books on various aspects of anime and manga. There were eight such books published in 2014, although of the eight were new editions of previously published titles. 5 such books were published in 2013, 6 in 2012, and 4 in 2011 (all of these numbers are for monographs, not essay collections or reference titles). When thinking about explanations for this particular effect, perhaps the one that comes to mind right away is simply that at least some of the high school and college students who first became interested in anime at the height of the bubble ten years ago are now in academia, as graduate students and early-career professors. Anime and manga is what they know intimately, what they have been interested in for years – and topics related to anime and manga make for obvious candidates for their first major publications. (more…)
There is no way around this – books are judged by their covers. Readers judge. Corporate bookstore chain “buyers” (not customers, but rather, the corporate bookstore chain employees whose job it is to select the specific books that their particular bookstore chain will purchase from the publisher and put up on the shelves) judge. Librarians judge. And ultimately, a cover reflects and indicates not just what a particular book is about, but how much care and effort has been put into a particular book as a physical object – and as something that is supposed to be worth a reader’s money.
The history of English-language books on Japanese animation and comics begins over thirty ago, with Frederik Schodt’s Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics – first published in 1983, and still in print today. And by my count, at least 90 books dealing with anime/manga have been published in English since. Granted, this figure includes everything from “traditional” scholarly monographs such as The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation and Cartoon Cultures: The Globalization of Japanese Popular Media and edited essay collections (Cinema Anime: Critical Engagements with Japanese Animation, Mangatopia: Essays on Manga and Anime in the Modern World) to books directed at casual readers (Anime and Philosophy: Wide Eyed Wonder, BFI Film Classics: Spirited Away, The Rough Guide to Manga), “directories” (500 Essential Anime Movies: The Ultimate Guide, Anime Classics Zettai!: 100 Must-See Japanese Animation Masterpieces) and various odds-and-ends – exhibit catalogs, revised reprints of magazine columns, first-hand accounts. But even focusing on the more “academic” books on anime and manga that have been published in English from 1983 to the present, we can learn a lot about how authors – and publishers – have approached Japanese animation and comics over the years as expressed in the covers that they selected. (more…)
In my work documenting anime and manga studies as a discreet academic area by compiling an enumerative bibliography of scholarship on Japanese comics and animation – a project I started (I think) in the spring of my freshman year of college (2000) – my actual practices have changed very little over the years. Locate a new “item”, add it to an ever-growing list, next. For a long time, the “list” was literally just that, a plaint-text file. For several years, I also maintained a basic database using DabbleDB, and when that application was shut down, worked with a developer to create a custom one. That is also currently on hiatus as I prepare for re-launching it on a dedicated website, However, at the end of every year, I would also create an “annual” list of books, book chapters, and journal articles on anime and manga that were published throughout that year, and distribute it on the Anime and Manga Research Circle Mailing List, and to anyone else who was interested.
Now, however, I realize that there is really no need for me to wait until the end of a year to have this kind of list. Accordingly, I am now able to present the 2014 Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies. Note that this is (and will continue to be) a work in progress. Today, it is a record of scholarship and commentary on Japanese comics/animation that has been published this year so far as of today; as I locate new items to add, or as new items are published, this list will continue to grow. But, right now, it is probably the most complete and comprehensive record of the publishing activities of anime and manga scholars around the world this year to date. (more…)
In my last two posts – Thoughts on Self-Publishing on Anime/Manga, Part 1 and Part 2, I raised the general question of whether it was possible for an author to produce and distribute his or her writing outside the established business structure of publishing, and went through some possible models. What I’d like to do now is to move beyond the models to concrete examples, to see how publishing commentary and works of scholarship can – and does – happen without the involvement of a publishing company or even a university press.
In my previous post, I discussed the standard way of publishing one’s writing – through a for-profit publishing company or non-profit university press – and the alternative of self-publishing. But, are those the only options open to someone who is interested in writing a book on a topic related to anime/manga, and getting that book into libraries and/or to readers?
As of right now, largely yes. But potentially, there are other options. Publishing, after all, is a combination of a technical or industrial process and a business model. Until recently, the technical process needed the business model – publishing a book cost money, and more money than an individual could commit. Print-on-demand and electronic distribution of books has made the technical process a lot easier to deal with. The business model that involves submission or commissioning, peer review and editing, and finally, promotion and distribution is harder to work around through technology alone. The whole point of a publishing house is not just to operate the printing or production machinery, it’s to organize and package knowledge.
And, to think of it, there is no objective reason for there not to be a “third way” between working with an established publisher, and self-publishing. The solution that Jonathan Gray (Media and Cultural Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison) proposes is of “publishing collectives” – that is, groups of scholars (or anybody else interested creating and distributing knowledge in a particular area of study or about a particular topic) taking control of publishing from established publishers.
What are the options that an author interested in publishing a full-length book on anime/manga can reasonably pursue? And are publishers actually interested in books on anime/manga? The easy answer seems to be ‘yes’ – or at least, some publishers certainly are. Palgrave Macmillan, one of the most prominent English-language corporate/for-profit publishing houses, has published Susan Napier’s Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke (2001) and From Impressionism to Anime: Japan as Fantasy and Fan Culture in the Eyes of the West) (2007), Steven Brown’s Tokyo Cyberpunk: Posthumanism in Japanese Visual Culture (2010) and just earlier this month, a new edition of Brian Ruh’s Stray Dog of Anime: The Films of Mamoru Oshii. Non-profit university presses that may consider a book on Japanese animation or comics include the University Press of Mississippi (God of Comics: Osamu Tezuka and the Creation of Post-World War II Manga, 2009), the University of Hawaii Press (Straight from the Heart: Gender, Intimacy, and the Cultural Production of Shojo Manga, 2011), and the University of Minnesota Press (The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation, 2009). The University of Iowa Press, which recently launched a line of books specifically on “fan studies” is certainly worth keeping in mind as well. And of course, beyond those two types of publishers, there are also the smaller companies like M.E. Sharpe, Edwin Mellen, Stone Bridge Press, with a long tradition of publishing books about Japan, Open Court Publishing, Kamera Books, and various others.
But is going the “traditional” route the only way to go? Is it possible for an author to self-publish a book on Japanese animation or Japanese comics? What kinds of challenges would a self-publishing author face? And are there other, alternate ways beyond either working with an established publishing house, or self-publishing?
In searching for scholarly publications about anime and manga, the question of where to start the search is crucial and unavoidable. A broad database like Academic Search Premier or Academic OneFile covers a lot of what is available, but the “barrier” for coverage is very high, and many journals are not included – to say nothing of books or book chapters. Google Scholar’s coverage is erratic and based purely on keywords in the text of a particular publication. Specialized or subject-specific databases like the Bibliography of Asian Studies, the Film & Television Literature Index Online, the International Index to the Performing Arts or the MLA International Bibliography are more narrowly focused – but again, an article or other publication on Japanese animation or comics may not necessarily be included in any of them. And indeed, the very nature of “anime and manga studies” as an area that is inherently interdisciplinary and does not fit neatly into any one particular databases’s scope makes finding publications on anime/manga a game with no perfect ending.
What options, then, does someone who is looking for materials on anime/manga have?
The largest and most prominent contribution that I make to anime and manga studies is compiling and editing the Online Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies – a continuously expanding record of scholarly publications on Japanese animation and comics, anime fans, the industry, and related topics. The public version of the Bibliography is currently on hiatus, but I continue to maintain a searchable database of publications that I plan to use as the heart of a new and redesigned Online Bibliography.
In the meanwhile, though, the database allows me to survey the overall landscape of publication in anime and manga, to locate publications with specific titles, on specific subjects, written by specific authors and appearing in particular specific journals and other sources. I draw on it the to promote “anime and manga studies” as an established area of study and to assist colleagues in their own work. And, I can use the database to generate stable, persistent lists of publications in anime and manga studies that may be of interest for anybody who is interested in this topic.
Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies, 2013 Ed.