Comics Forum 2014: Lineup


Coming up at Comics Forum 2014 on Thursday-Friday next week, we have a fantastic lineup of speakers! Our keynote speech will be delivered on Thursday afternoon by Professor Jane Chapman, and we look forward to welcoming a host of other top speakers to Leeds Central Library for two days of fascinating talks on violence. See below for the full list of speakers.


Jane Chapman: ‘Unspoken Violence: Redefining of Cultural Record, 1914-18′

Kat Lombard-Cook Structural Subversion: Violence Against the Comics Form Roger Sabin Ally Sloper meets Jack the Ripper: comedy and violence in late 19th century London Alex Link Scales of Violence, Scales of Justice, and Nate Powell’s Any Empire Christopher J. Thompson “Boiled or Fried, Dennis?” Understanding the displacement of violence in ‘Dennis the Menace and Gnasher’ Olivia Rohan Onomatopoeia as an agent of violence in manga: multimodality and translation strategies in battle manga and horror manga Penelope Mendonça Drawing difficult truths; how can a humorous graphic novel include violence during pregnancy? Cameron Fletcher Censorship and the Control of Violent Comics: The Code of the West Dan Smith Architecture, Violence and Hope: A Visitor’s Guide to Mega City One Malin Bergström Will Eisner and the Art of War: The Role of Educational Comics within the American Defence Industry Bradley Reeder The life and death of the city in Watchmen Enrique del Rey Cabero Violence and memory: the role of comics in portraying the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist repression Kevin Chiat “The Curse of Superman”: Humanism, Masculinity and Violence in the Superman Mythos Harriet EH Earle The Whites of their Eyes: Implied Violence and Double Frames in Blazing Combat and The ‘Nam Kwasu David Tembo 72 Votes: A Death in the Family as Mimetic Crisis Mihaela Precup “I think we’re maybe more or less safe here”: Communities under Siege during the Lebanese Civil War in Zeina Abirached’s A Game for Swallows Kevin J. Wanner In a World of Super-Violence, Can Pacifism Pack a Punch? Examining the Theme of the Pacifist Superhero through the Character of Wonder Man in Marvel’s Uncanny Avengers Joan Ormrod Women on the Edge: Unruly Bodies, spectacle and violence post 9/11


Brett Elhoffer The Yellow Peril Meets Superman: Depictions of the Chinese in 20th century American Comic Books Ian Horton No More Heroes Anymore? Representations of Violence in British War Comics of the 1970s Laurike in ‘t Veld The Depiction of Sexual Violence in Genocide Comics Ester Szép Trauma Theories and Joe Sacco’s Comics About Iraq Nicola Streeten The comics form and the ambivalence of sexual violence Jörn Ahrens Bring the War Back Home: Reflecting Violence in DMZ Louisa Parker (Una) Autobiographical Content and the Legacy of Artemisia, or Why Should We Care If Someone Was Raped? Joseph Willis Pushing Back the Apocalypse: Violence as Identity and Rebellion in the Post-Apocalyptic Julia Round Misty: Gothic for Girls in British Comics Fabio Mourilhe Practice of subjectivity in 300 Anna Madill Intimidating men: Patriarchal violence in Korean shonen-ai Let Dai Lynn Fotherington, Kieron Gillen and Stephen Hodkinson Story-telling, Historicity and the Depiction of Violence in Three – a conversation Jeffrey John Barnes To See What You Won’t Hear: Violence in Palestinian Arab Political Cartoons from the British Mandate through the Present Hugo Frey Adapting Jean-Patrick Manchette’s Le Petit bleu de la côte ouest (1977): the Comparative Politics of Cinema and Graphic Novel Re-interpretations Orla Lehane Animating “The Troubles”: Northern Ireland in Troubled Souls (1989) Ria Uhlig Violence in French graphzines Olga Kopylova Violence against violence? (Self-)destruction and plausibility of revenge in the manga Gankutsuō Paul Williams Violence, Regression and Therapeutic Narcissism in Jules Feiffer’s Tantrum (1979) Laura A. Pearson Seeing (in) Red: Reading Intersections of Violence in Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’s Red: A Haida Manga


Tickets for Comics Forum 2014 are priced as follows:

1 day pass (13th or 14th): £10

2 day pass (13th and 14th): £20

4 day pass (two day Comics Forum pass + 2 day Thought Bubble Convention pass (SRP £24)): £40 (save £4!)

To register, simply email with your name and how many tickets you’d like.

Comics Forum 2014 is supported by: Thought Bubble, the University of Chichester, Dr Mel Gibson and Molakoe.


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News Review: October 2014




Nancy Pedri at Memorial University is seeking an MA student and a PhD student who are interested in working on comics and/or photography in literature. Those interested in this funding opportunity should apply by the 15th January 2015 for a September 2015 admission. Link (English, WG)


The Department of English at the University of Calgary invites applications for a tenure-track position at the rank of Assistant Professor, in Children’s Literature and/or Young Adult Literature. The position explicitly seeks a secondary research and teaching area in “graphic novels.” Link (08/10/2014, English, WG)

The English Department at the University of Windsor is seeking a Cartoonist-in-Residence for fall 2015 (September-December). Link (English, WG)


There is a call for papers for the annual conference of the Canadian Society for the Study of Comics, taking place at the Toronto Reference Library on the 7th and 8th May 2015. The deadline for submissions is the 15th December. Link (English/French, WG)

United States


Diamond News reported that Marvel’s Death of Wolverine #1 and #2 took the top two spots for September total unit sales invoiced. Batman Future’s End #1 from DC rounded out the top spots. Link (English, MB)

Batman: Death of the Family Book & The Joker Mask Set (DC) took the top spot for Diamond News’ Top 100 Graphic Novels, based on total unit sales invoiced for the month of September. Forever Evil and Yu-Gi-Oh! 5DS Volume 6 were second and third respectively. Link (English, MB)


Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, Congressman John Lewis, Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin will discuss the movement and the graphic memoir, March, which tells Congressman Lewis’ experience. The event is free and is being held at the Archie M. Griffin East Ballroom at The Ohio State University on the 15th November. Link (English, MB)


The International Comic Arts Forum is being held between the 13th and 15th November at the Bill Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at The Ohio State University in Columbus. The keynote speaker is Dr. Bart Beaty and attendance is free. Link (English, MB)

Historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore has penned the book The Secret History of Wonder Woman, published recently by Knopf. In it, she discusses newly found private papers of William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman and seeks to tie Marston’s superheroine with that of the feminist movement of the 20th century. Link (English, MB)

There is a call for papers for the conference, Queers & Comics, taking place at the City University of New York between the 7th and 8th May 2015. Link (English, WG)




The ACME Comics Research Group at the University of Liège has announced the launch of its scholarly book series.The two titles published to date include: La bande dessinée en dissidence. Alternative, indépendance, auto-édition / Comics in Dissent: Alternative, Independence, Self-Publishing, edited by Christophe Dony, Tanguy Habrand & Gert Meesters; and Mythologies du superhéros. Histoire, physiologie, géographie, intermédialités, edited by François-Emmanuël Boucher, Sylvain David & Maxime Prévost. Link (English/French, WG)



Jean-Claude Fournier, best known as the artist behind Spirou from 1969-79, has been made a chevalier of the French Order of Arts and Letters. Link (11/10/2014, French, LTa)

A new Corto Maltese album will be published in October 2015, 20 years after the death of the series’ creator Hugo Pratt. Link 1 (06/10/2014, French, LTa), Link 2 (07/10/2014, French, LTa)



CAMP, a new “comics, illustration and trivial culture” magazine, is launched by Edition Alfons on the 12th November. Link (02/10/2014, German, MdlI)


Josh Elder gave a talk on Reading With Pictures in Berlin on the 21st October. Link (09/10/2014, German, MdlI)

A comics exhibition on childhood in the German Democratic Republic, including works by Flix, Mawil and others, opened in Berlin on the 1st November and runs until the 22nd November. Link (13/10/2014, German, MdlI)

An Uli Knorr exhibition is shown in Munich from the 16th October 2014 until the 3rd February 2015. Link (23/10/2014, German, MdlI)


The Roland Faelske awards 2014 go to Beeke Hadeler and Jochen Ecke for their respective comics-related thesis. Link (27/10/2014, German, MdlI)

The “Holocaust im Comic” exhibition in Bochum is accompanied by a lecture series from the 6th November 2014 until the 29th January 2015. Link (30/10/2014, German, MdlI)



The Library of Odivelas (Biblioteca Municipal D. Dinis) is hosting an exhibition titled “O fantástico na obra Eternus 9 – Um Filho do Cosmos” (The fantastic in Eternus 9 – A cosmos son). The exhibition is dedicated to the work of Victor Mesquita, and featured the author and some other illustrators and authors talking about their projects, their life, and their techniques of making comics. Link (22/10/2014, Portuguese, RR)

The Art Center of São João da Madeira is organising a comics workshop guided by Sofia Neto, alongside an annual course of comics. The workshop will take place on the 1st November in Oliva Creative Factory, whereas the course will begin on the 5th November. Link (Portuguese, RR)

From the 10th October until the 31st December, the bedeteca of Beja will be hosting an exhibition titled “Notícias da frente” (Early News), dedicated to works that portray some scenes from WWI and the following hundred years. Link (15/10/2014, Portuguese, RR)


The third edition of CONFIA has released its call for papers. Those interested are instructed to submit a full paper in English or in Portuguese by the 31st December. The conference will take place in Braga, between the 10th and 12nd April 2015. Link (01/10/2014, English & Portuguese, RR)



A new publishing house specialising in Spanish comics, Grafito Editorial, has been created. Link (01/10/2014, English, EdRC)

Planeta de Agostini Comics, the biggest comics publisher in Spain, has been renamed as Planeta Comics. Link (18/10/2014, Spanish, EdRC)


Komikigunea, a new public library with a collection of more than 30,000 documents (including comics, fanzines and comics studies material), is now open to the public in Donostia. Link (09/10/2014, Spanish, EdRC)

Spanish comic artists Juan Díaz Canales and Rubén Pellejero have been announced as the authors of the new album of Corto Maltese, which will be released in October 2015 (the last one was published in 1988). Link (07/10/2014, English, EdRC)

Spanish comic specialist Yexus hosted a conference about the history of comics in Cantabria (a region in the north of Spain) at Ateneo de Santander on the 21st October. Link (21/10/2014, Spanish, EdRC)


The UNED, the National Spanish Open University, is organising a university seminar called “Una mirada antropológica al mundo de la viñeta”. It will take place in Gran Canaria (and online) from the 3rd to the 14th November. Link (01/10/2014, Spanish. EdRC)



A Joost Swarte exhibition is shown at Cartoonmuseum Basel from the 15th November 2014 until the 23rd February 2015. Link (06/10/2014, German, MdlI)



Plymouth University is hosting an exhibition on Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun’s Charley’s War, taking place between the 3rd and 14th November. On the 4th November, Mills will be giving a talk on the series in the Levinsky Building (same venue as the exhibition), at 7pm. Link (English, WG)

Additional information on the exhibition, Southeast Asian Comics, taking place at The Proud Archivist – Library, London, between the 24th October and 2nd November (reported on last month), can be found on the Facebook page. Link (English, LCT)

Downthetubes has published a photo review of Dundee Comics Day 2014, which took place at the University of Dundee in October. Link (02/11/2014, English, WG)

*                    *                    *

News Editor: Will Grady (

Correspondents: Michele Brittany (MB, North America), Enrique del Rey Cabero (EdRC, Spain), William Grady (WG, UK), Martin de la Iglesia (MdlI, Germany & Switzerland), Renatta Rafaella (RR, Portugal), Lise Tannahill (LTa, France), Lim Cheng Tju (LCT, UK).

Click here for News Review correspondent biographies.

Click here to see the News Review archive.

Suggestions for articles to be included in the News Review can be sent to Will Grady at the email address above.

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Posted by on 2014/11/04 in News Review


The Bi-Monthly ComFor Update: October 2014 by Laura Oehme

Just like my predecessors, Stephan Packard and Lukas Wilde, I will use this fifth column of the German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor) in order to briefly summarize the latest news from the German comics studies scene. While all scholars seem to have been enjoying their summer break in August, September sounded the bell for a highly interesting fall season, full of conferences, festivals, and exhibitions.

Conferences, Workshops, Symposiums

Germany’s capital appears to have become the current hub of comics studies events, starting with the undisputed highlight of this year’s midsummer: the ninth annual conference of the German Society for Comics Studies. For four days (September 25–28), German and international comics scholars from various disciplines gathered at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Under the motto “Drawing Boundaries, Crossing Borders,” they discussed the transgressive potential of comics and their academic study. Whether media or genre conventions, geographical or political borders, the limits of medium or imagination – comics are bound to break them. The ComFor conference featured renowned comic scholars such as Roger Sabin, Neil Cohn or Michael Chaney and numerous established ComFor members, but also young scholars who are only beginning to explore the field of comics studies. Furthermore, participants were able to enjoy an exhibition by the Black Kirby artist group, an open forum that brought academia, publishers and artists together, and they also learned the latest news about Closure, the first German online journal for comics studies. Speaking of Closure, the editorial team announced at the conference that the first issue of the journal will be available on their brand new website by November 5th. Also during the annual conference, the new and improved ComFor website was released. Thanks to the new calender tool and a general bilingualism, it is now easier than ever before to stay informed about the most important events and publications concerning comics studies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

On September 26th, simultaneously to the ComFor conference, two other events took place in Berlin: the symposium “Grenzenlos: Comics im Unterricht”, where participants discussed how comics may be integrated into the curriculum, and the special training “Comics in Bibliotheken” for librarians. Both events are proof of increasing acceptance and acknowledgement of comics, not only in academia but also in the public sphere.

In mid-September, the research group “Digital and Cognitive Approaches to Graphic Narrative,” represented by Alexander Dunst and Jochen Laubrock, hosted the workshop “Empirical Approaches to Comics” in Berlin. Aiming to bring together American Studies and Cognitive Psychology, the workshop included talks by internationally acclaimed comics scholars such as Neil Cohn and Karin Kukkonen. Researchers Alexander Dunst and Rita Hartel also used the workshop to present a browser-based WYSIWYG-editor that allows for the easy commenting of scanned comic book pages on the basis of John A. Walsh’s “Comic Book Markup Language” (CBML). Even more complicated layouts, like those of Chris Ware, seem to work fine with algorithmic recognition of frames, balloons and characters.

Early this October, the “AG Comicforschung” – a research group for comics studies within the German Society for Media Studies (GfM), which Lukas already introduced in his April update – was represented at the annual GfM conference with a panel on “Comics and Law”. Comics scholars Jakob F. Dittmar, Andreas Rauscher, and Hans-Joachim Backe addressed three dimensions of how law and/or justice figure in comics and the discourses surrounding them. Their papers investigated the fine line between plagiarism and appropriation in the process of making comics, the issue of authorship in the comics industry, and the aesthetic dimensions of the discourse(s) on justice in revisionist superhero comics.


Two important German publications in the field of comics studies this summer are an essay collection and a special journal issue. The volume Bildlaute & Laute Bilder: Zur “Audiovisualität” von Bilderzählungen (Image Sounds & Loud Images: About the “Audiovisuality” of Picture Stories), edited by Christian A. Bachmann, collects essays that deal with the intermedial strategies of making sound visible in the works of Carl Barks, Lyonel Feininger, Winsor McCay, Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Chris Ware, and many more. In August, a special “Comics” issue of the weekly journal supplement Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte (Politics and Contemporary History) was published by the Federal Agency for Civic Education. The 56-page booklet, which features contributions by internationally renowned scholars like Thierry Groensteen and many ComFor members, can easily be ordered or downloaded from the agency’s website.


On September 14th, the fourth Graphic Novel Day took place as part of the International Literature Festival in Berlin. The festival is best known for last year’s release of the “comic manifesto.” This year, the four discussion rounds featured representatives from the German and European comics scene. Only four days later, the International Graphic Novel Salon at the Hamburg Instituto Cervantes invited comic artists Philippe Ôtiè, Gabriella Giandelli, Sohyun Jung, and Alfonso Zapico, who came together to talk about their current graphic novels. Soon after, the Comicfestival Hamburg (October 2–5) took place for the eight time and again focused on European independent comics. Among the special focus areas this year were the Finnish comics scene, Luke Pearson, Till Thomas, Hamburg artist groups, the First World War, and the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Last but not least, this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair (October 8–12) eliminated its traditional “Comic Center,” and instead incorporated various comics-related events into the general program. Among them were comic book readings, exhibitions, the finale of the German Cosplay Championship 2014, and the German Cartoon Prize.


Finally, and instead of elaborating on the numerous comics-related exhibitions that took place during the summer or are still ongoing, I would like to draw your attention to an upcoming show. For the first time, the travelling exhibition “Holocaust in Comics” will be hosted by the university library in Bochum. From October 23rd until the end of January 2015, visitors can see examples of comics that grapple with the representation of the Holocaust, as well as numerous original drawings on the topic by German comic artists completely free of charge. The exhibition was originally put together by Ralf Palandt in 2001 and is now curated in Bochum by Nina Heindl and Véronique Sina. It will be accompanied by an interdisciplinary lecture series entitled “Representations of the Holocaust”, which investigates the negotiation of the Holocaust beyond the medium of comics. By the way, an exhaustive overview of past and future exhibitions can be easily achieved by a new German information portal for comics by the name of “Dreimalalles,” which only took off in July and features a very convenient calender tool. More updates from the German Society for Comics Studies in December!

Laura Oehme, M.A. is currently writing her doctoral thesis on “Risk Technologies and Global Catastrophe in Contemporary Science Fiction Comics” in the field of American Studies at the University of Bayreuth, where she also works as a research assistant. She is a member of the German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor), as well as the AG Comicforschung, and is part of the editorial team of the ComFor website. Together with Jeanne Cortiel, she has written an article on “The Dark Knight’s Dystopian Vision: Batman, Risk, and American National Identity,” which is forthcoming in the European Journal of American Studies.

Click here for previous editions of the Bi-Monthly ComFor Update.

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Posted by on 2014/10/31 in ComFor Updates


Comics Forum 2014: Registration Open


Click here to download a PDF of this poster.

Registration for Comics Forum 2014 – Violence: A Conference on Comics is now open! This year’s conference will feature nearly 40 papers, which we’ll be announcing here shortly, so be sure to check back to see who’ll be speaking and what they’ll be talking about.

Tickets are priced as follows:

1 day pass (13th or 14th): £10

2 day pass (13th and 14th): £20

4 day pass (two day Comics Forum pass + 2 day Thought Bubble Convention pass (SRP £24)): £40 (save £4!)

To register, simply email with your name and how many tickets you’d like.

See you in November!

Comics Forum 2014 is supported by: Thought Bubble, the University of Chichester, Dr Mel Gibson and Molakoe.

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Posted by on 2014/10/15 in Comics Forum 2014


Manga Studies #5: Takeuchi Osamu and Manga Expression pt. 1: Tezuka Osamu as Manga Locus by Nicholas Theisen

Takeuchi Osamu, a professor of media studies at Doshisha University, is likely not the best manga studies critic to use as an introduction to problems surrounding the relatively recent turn in Japanese manga studies discourse to formalism or, more specifically, to the study of manga expression (manga hyōgen), since his work is something of a too easy target.  It is parochial—his examples, despite pretensions toward general principles, are exclusively Japanese—and has changed surprisingly little since the late 1980s, despite the fact that his contemporaries, such as Natsume Fusanosuke and Yomota Inuhiko, and the manga expression discourse in toto have changed considerably in the intervening years. Yomota’s Manga genron (Principles of Manga) makes reference to at least some non-Japanese comics artists, notably Windsor McCay, and in the introduction to a recent translation of two chapters of his Tezuka Osamu wa doko ni iru (Where is Tezuka Osamu?), Natsume reflects on how limited this early formalist work was and, if reproduced today, would have to be understood within the context of a global comics studies discourse:

At the time I wrote this book, my interests generally centered on postwar Japanese manga, and the scope of my inquiry was almost entirely limited to Japan.  If we were to consider European and American influences on manga from the Meiji period [1868-1912], the discussion in this book on transformations related to time and panel articulation would link to world-historical questions of modernity (changes in the expression of time and space in modern times)… Future research will surely depend on sharing knowledge and intellectual exchanges between scholars in different countries.[1]

While a turn away from more parochial concerns is admirable, a broadening of perspective on manga-as-comic expression is not guaranteed to overcome or even make apparent a number of assumptions underlying the study of manga expression as it emerged historically and in direct response to the currents of nearly two decades of manga criticism that preceded it.  In order to make those assumptions more apparent, my use of Takeuchi’s critical oeuvre here is directed more toward discourse analytical ends than toward a detailed explication of what his theory of manga expression entails.

In part one, I will focus on how the manga of Tezuka Osamu function as a primary site, a manga locus, wherein Takeuchi and others readily find the base text upon which their formal theories are founded.  Additionally, I will show how he situates his own work in the discourse surrounding Tezuka’s corpus and how, in doing so, he subsumes even those critics who might try to go beyond it into a broadly based Tezuka centrism firmly rooted within manga studies discourse.  In part two, I will focus on Takeuchi’s historiographic work so as to examine a certain overlap between where manga might be located historically and what subsequently manga is presumed to be in formal terms.  I will show how Takeuchi’s emphasis on print media for children explains a number of inclusions and oversights with regard to what manga might be in the postwar era.

Within Japanese formalist manga criticism, no artist’s work has been more consistently taken as emblematic than that of Tezuka Osamu. As Jaqueline Berndt notes in her “Considering Manga Discourse” essay,

[Tezuka] influenced generations of manga creators and readers, including such critics and researchers as Osamu Takeuchi [sic], originally a professor of children’s literature, and “manga columnist” Fusanosuke Natsume [sic]… In their analysis, Tezuka’s comics for children appeared revolutionary because of their shift from didactics to entertainment, their establishment of long and exciting narratives, the efficient and complementary intertwining of verbal and pictorial elements, and—most importantly—their use of allegedly cinematic techniques such as montage and varying shots and angles.[2]

“Cinematism” (eiga-teki shuhō) becomes the watchword for an entire critical discourse that plays out with Tezuka’s manga as the primary locus of analysis but extends well beyond him.[3] As Berndt goes on to note, this cinematic frame forces manga to be understood primarily in temporal terms, and so graphic elements are always subordinate to narrative.  The Tezuka mythos is, of course, not universally accepted, even by those who valorize him, and extends well beyond Takeuchi’s scholarship and even manga studies in Japan.

Thierry Groensteen too, in one of the earliest works on manga in French, L’Univers des mangas: Une introduction à la bande dessinée japonaise (The Universe of Manga: An Introduction to Japanese Comics), regards Tezuka as le fondateur (the founder):

Osamu Tezuka [sic]… is not the pioneer of Japanese comics, a title which rightly belongs to Rakuten Kitazawa [sic], but is one whose innovations, immediately after the war, gave manga new foundations, is one in whom an entire generation of artists recognized their master.[4]

Additionally, the introduction to Frederik Schodt’s Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics was written by the “master” himself and treats Tezuka’s manga at great length.  For Scott McCloud Tezuka’s work is a primary exemplum for how his method of charting panel transitions demonstrates an essential difference between Japanese and Anglo-American comics.  Tezuka-centrism, then, is well-inscribed in the manga studies discourse, both Japanese and non-Japanese alike.  However, because McCloud and Groensteen have arguably limited access to Japanese comics scholarship, due to the language barrier, it should be noted that their Tezuka centrism functions as a corrective gesture, rather than an attempt to ground one’s critical work in that of a widely recognized master.  In fact, Helen McCarthy, as late as 2009, laments in the preface to her The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, “the man who was largely responsible for the Japanese boom in comics after World War II [i.e. Tezuka]… remains almost unknown in the English-speaking world.”[5]

Though Takeuchi was originally, as Berndt says, a professor of children’s literature, his engagement with Tezuka’s manga corpus goes back at least as far as his graduate thesis, “Tetsuwan Atomu ni okeru Atomu-zō no hensen” (“The Changing Figure of Astro in Astro Boy”).  Moreover, his first book devoted solely to manga was a collection of essays titled Tezuka Osamu-ron (On Tezuka Osamu).  Tezuka is for Takeuchi both a personal and professional object of interest.  What is more, what “Tezuka” means within that professional framework is far more than a particular artist or a body of work that artist signifies.[6]  While Takeuchi may not explicitly make this claim himself, nevertheless, his criticism can be used to show that within Japanese language manga studies “Tezuka” is not merely an artist or body of work but a discourse unto himself, a site upon which a number of larger critical concerns play out with the somewhat ironic effect of subsuming even recent critiques of the Tezuka mythos into a broadly based Tezuka-centrism, which Thomas Lamarre has referred to as the “long, unending Tezuka.”[7]

Though not exclusively devoted to questions of form, On Tezuka does quite consistently raise them.  Yet, because the specifics of Takeuchi’s formal analysis do not necessarily lead to an understanding of how they are situated discursively, it is worthwhile examining the premises he works from, and in this he is quite explicit: “Tezuka Osamu is the manga artist [most] indicative of the postwar.”[8]  He goes on to note that, when he was young, many children just like him were reading Tezuka’s manga, indicating the personal/professional overlap in Takeuchi’s engagement with manga.  He also continues by taking a meta-critical jab at the generations of manga critics to precede him, one that might look harmless enough to an uninformed reader:

From the ‘60s onward, gekiga and a new type of shōjo manga were in fashion, and for a moment the times seemed far off from that world [of my childhood], but there was one manga artist at the heart of things throughout. That artist was, of course, Tezuka Osamu.[9]

This casual reference to the “detached” ‘60s and ‘70s concerns not merely the changing trends of what kinds of manga were popular when but also how the earliest generations of manga critics, according to a particular history,[10] tended to valorize gekiga artists in accordance with a more, though not exclusively, socio-culturally oriented mode of manga criticism.  As CJ Suzuki has noted, Ishiko Junzō and the other contributors to Mangashugi gravitated toward artists such as Shirato Sanpei, Tsuge Yoshiharu, Mizuki Shigeru, and Tatsumi Yoshihiro.  Similarly, Tsurumi Shunsuke, in both his English and Japanese language criticism generally had far more to say about Shirato and Mizuki than Tezuka.  Not that Tsurumi ignored Tezuka’s manga entirely, but he regarded them as no more or less important than any other’s.  For Takeuchi to claim that Tezuka lay at the heart of it all is to meta-critically reassert the artist’s dominance over against those who in the earlier history of manga studies placed him on a level playing field.

With this in mind, I would like to closely examine the final On Tezuka essay, “Eiga-teki shuhō · saikō” (“Cinematism, Reconsidered”).  The essay takes as its primary text Tezuka’s 1947 collaboration with Sakai Shichima, Shintakarajima (New Treasure Island), which, while not Tezuka’s first manga, has historically been the locus for a number of arguments regarding Tezuka’s innovations as well as what manga became in the postwar era.  The essay begins by recounting and deconstructing the myths surrounding this text, in particular how these myths were used by critics to build up an unnecessary pre-eminence for Tezuka as the originator of story manga.  This deconstruction is achieved not by simply lodging counter arguments against elements of this mythos but by referencing and reconstructing a critical discourse in which the objections to the myths play out.  With regard to layout, Takeuchi invokes Kure Tomofusa’s critique of the notion that New Treasure Island was the first to use a three tiered panel layout by showing how Shishido Sakō’s Supīdo tarō (Speed Boy) had done so in the 1930s.[11]  For Takeuchi, the important question is not whether Tezuka was the first or a major practitioner of manga cinematism but rather what the nature of that cinematic expression is.  He then turns to the meat of his own argument, wherein he demonstrates the similarities between page layouts in New Treasure Island to the film technique of montage.[12]

Of course, all scholarship is, to a certain extent, meta-critical, the literature review in particular being regarded as key to situating one’s research, but how Takeuchi places others within the discourse on Tezuka and within manga studies in general is slightly different from what one sees in the main with academic research.  In the years since Takeuchi’s collection of essays, the Tezuka mythos has taken a number of additional hits.  Nakano Haruyuki’s critical biography of Sakai Shichima, Nazo no mangaka Sakai Shichima: “Shintakarajima” densetsu no hikari to kage (Mysterious Manga Artist Sakai Shichima: The Light and Shadow of the New Treasure Island Legend), asserts the likelihood that Sakai had far more to do with the production of the comic than simply a story outline.  He claims Sakai’s background as a storyboard artist for animated films is a far better explanation for the “cinematic” qualities of New Treasure Island’s layout and artwork than the assertion that Tezuka derived a manga cinematism simply from observing films as projected.  Ryan Holmberg has also shown how Tezuka and Sakai likely worked directly from a 1942 Disney comic, Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold!

The most concerted and important deconstruction of the Tezuka mythos—and the most relevant to Takeuchi’s own work—in recent years is Itō Gō’s provocatively titled Tezuka izu deddo: hirakareta manga hyōgen-ron e (Tezuka is Dead: Toward an Enlightened Theory of Manga Expression).  Itō’s critique of Takeuchi in Tezuka is Dead as well as Takeuchi’s reading of Itō in his independent journal (dōjinshi) Biranji are worth treating in detail, but my concern here is what happens to critical work, especially that which attempts to “get over” what precedes it, when read into the ordinary scholarly practice of situating one’s own work with regard to that of others.  Perhaps, then, it is better to return to Natsume’s retrospective on Where is Tezuka Osamu?:

A mythologizing discourse characterizing Tezuka’s manga as a sort of postwar “god” had already [begun] to take shape in the early 1960s, and this book was in part an attempt to assess the truth of such claims at the level of concrete manga expression.  Tezuka’s 1946 book Shin takarajima (New Treasure Island), based on a story by Sakai Shichima, is often characterized as the work that introduced “cinematic techniques” to manga, reforming postwar manga.  Was this actually true?  If so, how was it possible?[13]

What Natsume makes clear is how even a polemical critique of the “mythologizing discourse” of Tezuka as the manga no kami-sama, “god of manga,” must engage in assessing the truth value of that discourse, must become part of the history of a discourse that, even if one manages to strip a particular object (for instance, Tezuka and his body of work) of its absolute importance, one may have done little to strip the discourse surrounding it of its pride of place within manga studies.  In fact, as Takeuchi’s own appropriation of critiques of the Tezuka mythos shows, any concerted engagement with Tezuka as manga locus, be it polemical or not, runs the risk of becoming another precursor, another literature review, to the same old arguments.


Berndt, Jaqueline, 2008. “Considering Manga Discourse: Location, Ambiguity, Historicity,” in MacWilliams, Mark W. ed., Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, pp. 295-334.

Gravett, Paul, 2004. Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics. New York: Collins Design.

Groensteen, Thierry, 1991. L’univers des mangas: Une introduction à la bande dessinée japonaise (The Universe of Manga: An Introduction to Japanese Comics). Tournai: Casterman.

Holmberg, Ryan.

— 2012. “The Bottom of a Bottomless Barrel: Introducing Akahon Manga” in The Comics Journal, January 5, 2012. Accessed August 10, 2014,

— 2012. “Manga Finds Pirate Gold: The case of New Treasure Island” in The Comics Journal, October 1, 2012.  Accessed August 10, 2014,

Itō, Gō, 2005. Tezuka izu deddo: hirakareta manga hyōgenron e (Tezuka is Dead: Toward an Enlightened Theory of Manga Expression). Tokyo: NTT Shuppan.

Kinsella, Sharon, 2000. Adult Manga: Culture and Power in Contemporary Japanese Society. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Lamarre, Thomas, 2010. “Speciesism, Part II: Tezuka Osamu and the Multispecies Ideal” in Mechademia vol. 5: Fanthropologies. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 51-85.

McCarthy, Helen, 2009. The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga. New York: Abrams ComicArts.

McCloud, Scott, 1993. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. Northampton, MA: Kitchen Sink Press.

Miyamoto, Hirohito, 2009. “Rekishi kenkyū” in Natsume, Fusanosuke and Takeuchi Osamu, eds., 2009. Manga-gaku nyūmon (Introduction to Manga Studies). Tokyo: Minerva Shobō, pp. 96-101.

Nakano, Haruyuki, 2007. Nazo no mangaka Sakai Shichima: “Shintakarajima” densetsu no hikari to kage (The Mysterious Manga Artist Sakai Shichima: The Light and Shadow of the Legend of “New Treasure Island”). Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō.

Natsume, Fusanosuke.

— 1992. Tezuka Osamu wa doko ni iru (Where is Tezuka Osamu?). Tokyo: Chikuma Library.

— 2013. “Where is Tezuka?: A Theory of Manga Expression” trans. Matthew Young in Mechademia 8: Tezuka’s Manga Life, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 155-171.

Natsume, Fusanosuke and Takeuchi Osamu, eds., 2009. Manga-gaku nyūmon (Introduction to Manga Studies). Tokyo: Minerva Shobō.

Ōtsuka, Eiji, 2013. Mikkī no shoshiki: sengo manga no senjika kigen (The Form of Mickey: The Wartime Origins of Postwar Manga). Tokyo: Kadokawa Sōsho.

Schodt, Frederik L., 1983. Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics. New York: Kondansha International.

Suzuki, CJ. “Manga Studies #4: Traversing Art and Manga: Ishiko Junzō’s Writings on Manga/Gekiga” in Comics Forum, August 11, 2014. Accessed August 17, 2014,

Takeuchi, Osamu.

— 1989. Manga to jidō bungaku no “aida” (“Between” Manga and Children’s Literature). Tokyo: Dai Nippon Tosho.

— 1992. Tezuka Osamu-ron (On Tezuka Osamu). Tokyo: Heibonsha.

— 1995. Sengo manga 50nen-shi (Fifty Year History of Postwar Manga). Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō.

— 1995. Kodomo manga no kyojin-tachi: Rakuten kara Tezuka made (Giants of Children’s Manga: From Rakuten to Tezuka). Tokyo: San’ichi Shobō.

— 2005. Manga hyōgen-gaku nyūmon (Introduction to the Study of Manga Expression). Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō.

— 2009. “Manga kenkyū no ayumi” (“A Walk Through Manga Studies”) in Natsume, Fusanosuke and Takeuchi Osamu, eds., 2009. Manga-gaku nyūmon (Introduction to Manga Studies). Tokyo: Minerva Shobō, pp. 248-257.

Takeuchi, Osamu and Koyama Masahiro, eds., 2006. Anime e no hen’yō: gensaku to anime to no bimyō na kankei (Adaptation to Anime: The Subtle Relationship Between Anime and Original). Tokyo: Gendai Shokan.

Takeuchi, Osamu, Yonezawa Yoshihiro, and Yamada Tomoko, eds., 2006. Gendai manga hakubutsukan 1945-2005 (The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Manga 1945-2005). Tokyo: Shōgakkan.

Theisen, Nicholas, 2013. “13a. The Problematic Gendering of Shōnen Manga” in What is Manga?, May 27, 2013. Accessed August 10, 2014,

Tsurumi, Shunsuke, 1991. Manga no dokusha to shite (As a Manga Reader…). Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō.

Yomota, Inuhiko, 1994. Manga genron (Principles of Manga). Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō.

Nicholas Theisen is a research fellow with the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Iowa. His research is interested broadly with textual and formalist issues in poetry, popular music, and comics, and he has written articles on the comics of Dave Sim, Tezuka Osamu, and Miyazaki Hayao. He is currently at work completing a book project which reconfigures comics as a hermeneutic practice rather than as a visual form. He is also the creator of the blog What is Manga?

[1] Natsume, “Where is Tezuka? A Theory of Manga Expression,” 91-2.

[2] Berndt, 302.

[3] In the context of manga, “cinematism” seems to refer to a reflection of certain cinematographic techniques (e.g. montage, close-ups, panning shots, etc.) as adapted to the visual milieu of comics.  However, this more limited sense is often complicated by reference to any number of narrative modes that are not specific to film—and, in fact, ignore how film borrows narratologically from literature—but are, nevertheless, discussed in cinematic terms.

[4] Groensteen, 64.  Translations are, unless otherwise noted, my own.

[5] McCarthy, 8.

[6] It should be kept in mind that Tezuka was very much an auteur in the sense that word is used in film studies: a large number of manga and anime fall under his “authorship” but are, in reality, the product of many more or less invisible hands.

[7] Lamarre, 50.

[8] Takeuchi, Tezuka Osamu-ron, 7.

[9] ibid.

[10] The most common story of the history of manga studies discourse, beginning with Tsurumi Shunsuke, tends to overlook the programmatic and occasionally theoretical claims of pre-war manga artists such as Kitazawa Rakuten and Okamoto Ippei.  For a description of the “four generations” of manga studies, c.f. Berndt, 2008, 303-304.

[11] On Tezuka, 225.

[12] ibid., 234.

[13] Natsume, “Where is Tezuka? A Theory of Manga Expression,” 90.

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Posted by on 2014/10/08 in Manga Studies


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