Previously on Comics Forum, Monden Masafumi shed light on the fact that Japanese shōjo manga discourse tends to prioritize a gender-related perspective, disregarding the majority of graphic narratives which do not fit a subversive reading of the genre, or even dismissing them for their allegedly conservative representation of femininity. But this is not the only one-sided approach to shōjo manga, there is also a historical bias at play. Shōjo manga of the 1970s, notably works by the so-called Magnificent 49ers (see below), have been the main focus of discussion, overshadowing other eras, both before and after. In the following overview, I will outline how the 70s and especially the 49ers ended up as the center of attention, how this favoritism has obscured other periods, and finally how views on shōjo manga history are beginning to change.
Author Archives: HannahMiodrag
As German universities are about to return for their summer semesters, I find that the previous seasons of comics research in Germany hardly seem to apply any longer; an onslaught of publications, conferences, and exhibitions seems to continue throughout the year. Giving an overview of all of them no longer appears feasible, but here are some of those that kept us busy during the last two months, with apologies to anyone whose projects I might have missed. Do let me know.
We’re currently gearing up for the workshop on The Mediality and Materiality of Contemporary Comics at Tuebingen between April 24th and 26th. This second workshop of the AG Comicforschung, the panel for comics research, of the German Society for Media Studies (Gesellschaft für Medienwissenschaft) will be organised by Jan-Noël Thon and Lukas Wilde. The program boasts keynotes by Daniel Stein, Karin Kukkonen, Ian Hague, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, and AG founder Véronique Sina, and will combine these with shorter paper presentations on topics ranging from the treatment of history in comics to analyses of individual comics by Warren Ellis, John Byrne, Scott McCloud, Brian Fies, and several others.
Welcome to the second edition of the International Bande Dessinée Society column, a look back at developments in the world of bande dessinée (francophone comics) scholarship and research.
No retrospective examination of the year in bande dessinée can overlook the tragic events of January 2015: the shooting at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The events and their ramifications have been discussed endlessly in the press, and discussion of the political or wider global effects of the attack is far beyond the remit of this column. However, the deaths of Stéphane Charbonnier (Charb), Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut (Cabu), Bernard Verlhac (Tignous) and Philippe Honoré represent a huge loss for not only Charlie Hebdo but the wider world of bande dessinée. Several of them were key figures in the development of post-war bande dessinée and wider visual culture in France. For example, Cabu and Wolinski’s work appeared in Charlie Hebdo from its beginnings in 1969 as well as its predecessor Hara-Kiri. Cabu and Charb, along with economist Bernard Maris, who was also killed, were instrumental in the resurrection of Charlie Hebdo in 1992 (publication had ceased in 1981). It is this incarnation which continues to the present day. Charlie Hebdo represents a particularly French tradition of satirical cartooning which lost many of its most important figures in the attacks. If you would like to know more about Charlie Hebdo and its place in French culture, Berghahn has published an informative blog post by Mark McKinney (University of Miami, Ohio) at their site, as well as making available two articles from European Comic Art: a history of the journal and its politics, as well as an interview with Cabu.
Manga Studies #7: Shōjo Manga Research: The Legacy of Women Critics and Their Gender-Based Approach by Masafumi Monden
Shōjo manga varies in style and genre. But despite this diversity, there is a certain conception of shōjo manga aesthetics, dominated by images of flowers, ribbons, fluttering hem skirts, and innocent-looking girls with large, staring eyes. Traditionally, the beginning of shōjo manga has been equated with Tezuka Osamu’s Princess Knight (Ribon no kishi), but more recent studies have instead focused on prior texts, namely the creations of Takahashi Macoto, who was influenced by the so-called lyrical illustrations (jojōga) of artists such as Nakahara Jun’ichi, Takabatake Kashō and Takehisa Yumeji. Manga influenced by jojōga have arguably prioritized visual qualities.
The importance of visual qualities has increasingly been recognized in shōjo manga studies. However, most critical examinations of shōjo manga place emphasis on the role of narrative structure and representation of gender. This applies particularly to those who read shōjo manga as a medium to challenge conventional gender roles. As Iwashita Hōsei points out, female manga researchers especially have tended to focus on biological and socially constructed gender (2013a: 58). This column discusses two such works, Fujimoto Yukari’s Where is my place in the world? (1998, revised edition 2008) and Oshiyama Michiko’s Discussion of Gender Representation in Shōjo Manga: Forms of “Cross-dressed Girls” and Identity (2007, revised edition 2013).
Welcome to 2015’s first column of the German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor). Regardless that ComFor will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, due to holiday breaks and such you’d expect a relatively slow start for comic studies – with the biggest events comprised only of the traditional “must-read” lists and surveys on 2014’s works (you’ll find wonderful compilations of German and international “Top-X” lists on Christian Maiwald’s comic infopage Dreimalalles.info, including ComFor members’ own thoughts on interesting reads). Quite to the contrary, however, the last two months proved to be pretty eventful. I feel obliged to mention the shocking incidents at Charlie Hebdo first; not only because they overshadowed January, but also because they raised a lot of questions regarding the relation of cartoons and comics to politics – a topic that has been critical to some of ComFor’s previous annual conferences. While German scholars were as shocked and speechless as everyone else, some will try to think about a way to honor the contributors to Charlie Hebdo not only as victims but artists.