In my earlier post about this year’s nominations for the Eisner Awards Best Scholarly/Academic Work category, I mentioned the chapter on nouvelle manga in Drawing From Life: Memory and Subjectivity and Comic Art, and the many essays on Japanese comics that have appeared over the years in the International Journal of Comic Art. But I will be the first one to admit that I missed one more book that I should have mentioned.
Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation is another of the four books and the one journal nominated in the category this year. The title alone gives no indication that it would be relevant to anime/manga studies. But, as is so often the case with inter-disciplinary essay collections, the title does not adequately represent its contents. And one of the essays in this book is in fact worth bringing up in the context of manga studies.
‘Beyond b&w?: The global manga of Felipe Smith’, by City University London’s Casey Brienza, who is fast emerging as one of the most active and insightful scholars currently writing on manga anywhere outside Japan, is an “in-depth textual and visual analysis” of two works by American comics artist Felipe Smith – the “manga-style” MBQ , which was published in the U.S. along with a number of other “original English language” or OEL titles in the mid-2000’s, and his second, Peepo Choo – published first in a Japanese magazine, and only then brought back to the U.S. In her analysis, Brienza uses both the publication histories of these two works and their author’s personal background to demonstrate how manga is able to speak to audiences across nations, cultures, and perhaps races – but how these messages are received still varies based on regional or local factors.
Drawing from Life: Memory and Subjectivity in Comic Art – See more at: http://www.comic-con.org/awards/will-eisner-comic-industry-award-nominees-2014#sthash.PMUcWDm1.dpuf
My work in promoting, facilitating and supporting anime and manga studies involves several different kinds of activities. I am one of the founders of the Anime and Manga Research Circle, an informal community of academics, students, industry professionals and fans interested in studying Japanese animation and comics, and a moderator of the AMRC mailing list. I have reviewed books on anime for the Anime News Network – and articles submitted for publication in the scholarly journal Transformative Works and Cultures. I have presented talks on anime and manga studies at conventions around the U.S. – Otakon, Anime Central, A-Kon, Anime Boston, Katsucon and others. But at least for now, what I think of as my main contribution to this area is as the organizer/producer of the annual Anime and Manga Studies Symposium, the track of academic presentations and panels that are a part of the programming at Anime Expo, the largest anime convention in the U.S.
The Call for Papers for this year’s Symposium is open through the end of the month – I have already seen several excellent submissions, and look forward to seeing more. And, since one of the goals I had in mind for this blog is to have it serve as a hub or central point for activities in the field of anime and manga studies, I am also happy to present the full schedules for the previous years:
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.
By 2011, anime and manga studies as an academic field was definitely coming into its own, with a number of books, dozens of classes, an annual conference (Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits, at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design), and even an annual journal dedicated to “anime, manga and the fan arts”. What anime and manga studies did not have, though, was a way to present the academic field to non-academic audiences – to connect anime/manga scholars with anime and manga fans. And it was here that I saw both a niche, a need, and a market gap – and tried to fill it. So, in the winter of 2011, I approached the senior officers of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, the non-profit corporate parent of the Anime Expo convention, with a proposal to organize, produce and manage a track of academic presentations and panel discussions that would be a part of the AX 2011 program. A lot of my proposal was based on enthusiasm and hopeful thinking, but in making the proposal, I was drawing on examples for Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits, the Comic Arts Conference track of San Diego Comic-Con, and the easily dozens of papers on various aspects of anime and manga that had been presented over the years at academic conferences, seminars and workshops around the U.S. In fact, as early as 2004, the Anime Boston convention had incorporated a session of formal academic presentations into its panel programming schedule – and if they could do it, I could certainly try to adjust the program for scale and expand it over the length four days of AX 2011. (more…)
Fred Schodt wrote Manga! Manga!, the first English-language book on Japanese comics, more than 30 years ago. Easily several dozen “books on anime/manga” have been published since – and I have made the argument that by looking at these books, it’s possible to trace the evolution of anime and manga studies – how authors write about these topics, and more importantly, what authors hope to achieve – from 30 years ago to now.