My review of the comics anthology Heartwood: Non-Binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy, edited by Sirens Studio guest of honor Joamette Gil, is up on the Sirens website. Assuming that we can leave our houses again by October, you can register now for both the studio and the conference in Colorado.
I’ve shown up, bleary-eyed and half-awake, to shepherd discussions at the Sirens Books and Breakfast sessions many times. I suppose it was only natural that eventually they would ask me to help kickstart the discussion in advance. My brief remarks on Frances Hardinge’s Gullstruck Island, an excellent, chewy middle grade novel about anti-colonialism, indigenous resistance, capricious volcanoes and an evil dentist, are up on the Sirens website.
I have to admit, I had no particular expectations of being quoted in WashPo, but I was more than happy to talk to a reporter who called asking about the old Kimba the Lion and The Lion King “controversy.” You can read my thoughts and those of many other anime scholars in the article itself.
One thing I found myself pointing out was that the structure of IP law, which is currently very much a binary original/derivative, property/theft model, doesn’t fit very well with how influence and creativity actually work. And it is increasingly out of step with the remix model of creativity that prevails in the postmodern era. I found myself wanting to argue that the quotations from Kimba in The Lion King are more like sampling than “copying”–I’m not even sure that’s true, but I do know that Tezuka did the same thing in reverse, quoting shots from the Disney animated films of the 1950s in his manga of the time. In any case, if The Lion King quotes Kimba on an artistic level, it’s quoting Hamlet on a story level, and the question of “originality” is wildly overblown. (There’s a particular irony in the controversy being revived in the context of the 2019 movie, which is virtually a shot-for-shot remake. A shame, since Jon Favreau can be a very good director when he has actual creative freedom.) (You knew this next pun was coming.) Creativity has its own circle of life.
My review of E.K. Johnston’s The Afterward (Dutton, 2019) went up at the Sirens website on Friday. I quite enjoyed the book and I always enjoy the opportunity to support Sirens, one of my favorite cons since I first attended in 2010. I’ll be in Denver for this year’s edition, and there is still plenty of time for you to join us.
In belated updates, I wanted to thank everyone who attended the Baruch College Manga Symposium: Untold History of Japanese Comics in April. I spoke about “Norakuro and Friends: The Rise, Fall, and Triumph of Children’s Manga, 1916-1957.” Anne Ishii, the English translator of Gengoroh Tagame’s My Brother’s Husband, spoke about “From Niche to Mainstream: The Crossover Success of Gay Manga.” I want to thank Anne for a fascinating talk and also Prof. C.J. Suzuki for organizing the symposium and inviting me to take part in it. Hopefully I’ll be back in New York City soon.
In the meantime, I’m happy to confirm that I’ve agreed to guest edit Mechademia 14.2, a general issue–we’ll come up with a snappy title based on the submissions we receive. 14.2 is scheduled to be published in 2021; in the meantime, the CFP for this year’s issues, “Queer(ing)” and “Soundscapes,” are open until 1 July 2019.
Thank you to everyone who attended Mechademia Minneapolis at the end of September, and especially to those of you who came to listen to and discuss my paper “A Children’s Empire: The Prewar ‘Media Mix’ of the Kodansha Club Magazines.” After also giving this presentation in Kyoto earlier this year, I think I’ve finally figured out the next steps.
In the meantime, I’m pleased to confirm that I’m serving as the guest editor for Mechademia 12.1, “Transnational Fandoms.” We’re in process on the issue now, and I think we’re putting together a strong volume expanding beyond the usual sites in Japan and North America. I look forward to everyone reading it when it’s published next year.
Belatedly, I’m happy to say that I’ll be chairing a session and giving a paper at the PCA/ACA Conference in Indianapolis tomorrow. As part of “Comics and Comic Arts VII,” I’ll be speaking on “What Does the God of Manga Want with Anime? Re-Evaluating Tezuka in Manga History.”
I hope to see you there!
I’m writing from the train on the way to Washington, DC, where I’ll be presenting on my research at the 2018 conference of the American Historical Association.
Specifically, I’m part of the Comics and History panel tomorrow afternoon, at 1:30pm in the Empire ballroom. My topic is “Don’t Fear the Gutter: Platforms, Formats, and Comics in Postwar and Postmodern Japan,” in which I speak about some of the conclusions I drew about the history of pop culture in my dissertation. I hope to see you there!
On Wednesday I’ll be heading to Colorado for the 2017 Sirens Conference. I’m very pleased to be returning to Sirens, one of my favorite annual events. The theme this year, which is sold out, is Women Who Wield Magic.
I’ll be participating in two program items; the first is a panel, and the second is a roundtable discussion:
Becoming a Better Reader
Amy Tenbrink, Faye Bi, Andrea Horbinski
Edith Wharton once said, “When I first began to read, and then to write ghost-stories, I was conscious of a common medium between myself and my readers, of their meeting me halfway among the primeval shadows, and filling in the gaps in my narrative with sensations and divinations akin to my own.” This idea, that readers must meet authors halfway, implies that readers bear a certain amount of responsibility for the success or failure of their reading experience—and that, ultimately, reading itself may be a skill, something that a reader can improve with education, diligence, and practice. On this panel, four readers will discuss what it might mean to be a good reader and how one might become a better reader.
The Magical Girls of Anime and Manga
The anime and manga genre of magical girls has a rich history of girls wielding magical power with fashion, friendship, and heart. In this roundtable, we’ll review our favorite magical girls from famous to unfairly forgotten, and talk about why and how anime, manga, and magical girls work so well together.
Somewhat belatedly, I’m happy to say that I’ll be speaking on manga and science fiction tomorrow at the 2017 Mechademia Conference in Minneapolis.
You can view the full schedule online; my talk “Manga: A Science Fictional Medium?” is scheduled at 9:45am on Saturday. The conference starts at 5pm today and registrations are still available, so please join us!