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.
I’m delighted to announce that my article “Talking by letter: the hidden history of female media fans on the 1990s internet” is now available in Internet Histories. This article draws on the interviews I and my fellow investigators did for the Fan Fiction and Internet Memory oral history project in 2012, which was led by the excellent Prof. Abigail De Kosnik. If you haven’t read her book Rogue Archives, you totally should.
I want to thank again all the fans who participated in the interviews, as well as the many members of the FFIM and Fan Data research teams. Our collaboration was one of the highlights of my graduate career, and I’m very happy to be able to add this publication to those commemorating it. Many thanks as well to the editors of this special issue of Internet Histories, Valérie Schafer and Benjamin G. Thierry, for accepting this paper and helping to improve it through the revision process.
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.
I’m very happy to say that I’ll be giving a talk at Sophia University in Tokyo next week, 15 June 2018. “Dual Legacies: MAVO, Manga, and the Avant-Garde in Interwar Japan” explores the role that the radical 1920s art movement MAVO played in the work of the two most influential mangaka of the 1930s, Yanase Masamu and Tagawa Suihô, both of whom were MAVO members.
The talk starts at 18:30 and is open to the public. Full details are on the ICC page. I hope to see you there!
The schedule for the Mechademia Kyoto conference this weekend is now online, so I can confirm that I’ll be speaking on Saturday, giving my 2015 talk “A Children’s Empire: The Prewar ‘Media Mix’ of the Kodansha Club Magazines” a shiny post-PhD update. Registration is still available, and you should totally attend if you’ll be around.
I also heard yesterday that I received an honorable mention for the Comics Studies Society‘s inaugural Chute Award for Best Graduate Presentation for my talk “Something Postmodern Going On: The Queering of the Manga Sphere in the 1970s,” given at the UC Berkeley CJS Graduate Conference last year. (The announcement initially said the mention had been given to my phantom twin brother, Andrew Horbinski, but he’s not the one with the PhD.)
I’m very grateful for the recognition, and I was also pleased to see that my Belgian colleague Benoît Crucifix has won the CSS Article prize for his article “Cut-up and Redrawn: Charles Burns’s Swipe Files.” Sadly I have a prior commitment and won’t be able to attend the inaugural CSS Conference in August, but I hope to do so in the future.
Since there are apparently 15 tickets remaining, it seems like the time to mention that I’ll be one of the faculty members at this year’s Sirens Studio, the prequel event for the Sirens Conference. Join us in Beaver Creek, CO in October to take a deep dive into writing, reading, and career sessions with me and seven other distinguished session leaders.
My session is “Taking the Off-Ramp: Strategies and Practices for Changing Careers (Especially for Academics).” We’ll be talking about the increasingly common reality of changing careers and best practices for doing it.
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!