I’m thrilled to announce that after years of work, very little of it done by me, the Journal of Anime and Manga Studies launched online this week. JAMS is an open access journal, which means you can read the whole thing online for free. Congratulations to Billy Tringali, the editor in chief, and to everyone else involved.
Included in the first issue is my review of the reprint of Adam L. Kern’s classic book Manga from the Floating World: Kibyôshi and the Comicbook Culture of Edo Japan. It’s very good to have this book back in print after so long, and I would definitely recommend it if you’re interested in the subject.
I’ll be participating in an AHA webinar on Friday, September 29th, with the theme of “Careers for Historians in the Tech Industry.” Registration is free and you can find more information on the AHA webpage.
I talked to my former grad school colleague Brendan Mackie on his podcast, “The Making of a Historian,” about manga and anime after 1963. This is definitely one of my favorite conversations about these topics and I’m really glad to have had the opportunity.
I’m very pleased to note that the issue of Mechademia: Second Arc which I guest-edited, “Transnational Fandom,” is now available. You can purchase a physical copy via the University of Minnesota Press, and through the end of 2020, you can also access the entirety of the Second Arc run thus far online, via the academic database JSTOR.
My article “What You Watch Is What You Are? Early Anime and Manga Fandom in the United States” is published in this issue, four years after I first wrote it for a different issue of Mechademia. Thanks again to everyone at the Eaton Collection at the UC Riverside Libraries, where the bulk of the research for the article was conducted in 2014.
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.
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.