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News Review September 2017

Americas

Canada

Research

There is a call for papers for the edited collection, Sexuality and Mental Illness in Comics, edited by Nancy Pedri and Irene Velentzas. 300-word abstracts are due by the 15th January 2018. Link (English, WG)

United States

Job

There is a job listing for Assistant Professor of English in Comics Studies at the University of Oregon. The deadline for applications is the 15th November. Link (English, WG)

Research

The Middle Spaces has published a call for guest writers. Link (English, WG)

The table of contents for International Journal of Comic Art 19.1 has been published online. Link (26/09/2017, English, WG)

There is a call for papers for the Fourth Annual Dartmouth Illustration, Comics and Animation Conference, which takes place at Dartmouth College between the 26th and 27th May 2018. Proposals are due by the 1st December 2017. Link (14/09/2017, English, WG)

The Cambridge Companion to the Graphic Novel, edited by Stephen E. Tabachnick, has been published by Cambridge University Press. Link (English, WG)

The Research Society of American Periodicals invites submissions for its 2016-17 Article Prize. The prize is awarded to the best article on the subject of American periodicals published in a peer-reviewed academic journal between the 1st January 2016, and 31st December 2017. Details can be found via the link. Link (13/09/2017, English, WG)

There is a call for papers, Comics and Visual Culture 2018: A Conference for Student Research, which takes place on the 10th March 2018, at CSUN University Student Union. The submission deadline is 5th January 2018. Link (English, WG)

There is a call for papers for MIND THE GAPS!: The Futures of the Field – the 1st Annual Conference of the Comics Studies Society, which takes place between the 9th and 11th August 2018 at the University of Illinois. The deadline for submissions is the 1st January 2018. Link (English, WG)

There is a call for submissions for a special issue of Sequentials entitled, “Queer” as Noun, Adjective, and/or Verb. Creative submissions are due by the 1st December. Link (English, WG)

Europe

Belgium

Culture

The small-press comics festival Salon Mirage held its first edition in Brussels on the 15th to the 17th September. Link (28/08/2017, French, BC)

France

Business

A revived version of Les Cahiers de la bande dessinée, which first appeared in 1972, has been crowdfunded. Link (01/10/2017, French, LT)

Culture

Riad Sattouf’s BD Les Cahiers d’Esther will be adapted into an animated series by Canal+. Link (19/09/2017, French, LT)

Research

Ridiculosa issued a call for chapters for a special issue on comics and satirical images. Papers are due by the 15th October 2017. Link (30/08/2017, French, BC)

Germany

Culture

An exhibition of Atomino and other comics from Frösi magazine is shown in Großenhain until the 15th October. Link (15/09/2017, German, MdlI)

The exhibition, “Ink & Pixels”, on comics from Kenya, is now shown in Wiedensahl until the 30th November. Link (115/09/2017, German, MdlI)

The exhibition of the latest Max-und-Moritz-Preis winners has travelled on to Mettmann where it is shown until the 22nd October. Link (18/09/2017, German, MdlI)

Research

There is a Call for Papers for a conference on “Graphic Realities: Comics as Documentary, History, and Journalism” in Gießen on the 22nd and 23rd February 2018; deadline for abstracts is the 3rd November 2017. Link (04/09/2017, English, MdlI)

Hungary

Culture

Between 22 September and 20 October, kArton Gallery (Budapest) hosts an exhibition of works by Dávid Cserkuti, cartoonist, illustrator, designer. Dávid won the Hungarian comics award, called Alfabéta-prize, in 2007; and currently, he takes part in creating an animated version of the popular Hungarian comics series, Dirty Fred. Link (ES, Hungarian)

From October on, Hungarian comics can be found at the newsagents again. The first monthly comics magazine containing the works of Hungarian artists only, Epicline, withdrew from the shelves after just one year in 2014. Now a new magazine, Fantomatika, is launched in Hungary and in the Hungarian-speaking parts of Romania. It is promised to give readers sci-fi comics every month. Link (ES, Hungarian)

Romania

Culture

Sibiu hosted the fifth edition of its annual International Comics Convention. The event included work by independent cartoonists from the United States and Europe, as well as workshops, exhibitions, and live drawing. Link (22/09/2017, Romanian, MP)

Portugal

Culture

Until the 6th November, the Museum Bordalo Pinheiro, together with The Lisbon Studio, is organizing the exhibition “Filhos do Manguito”, a tribute to Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro made by several Artists. The exhibition is curated by Pedro Moura. Entrance is free. Link (22/09/2017, Portuguese, RR)

Spain

Culture

40 years since the far-right terrorist attack against the satirical magazine El Papus. Link (18/09/2017, Spanish, EdRC)

The 17th edition of Dolmen Critics’ Awards have been announced. Link (18/09/2017, Spanish, EdRC)

The exhibition Krazy Kat is Krazy Kat is Krazy Kat can be visited at Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid, from the 18th October 2017 to the 26th February 2018. Link (01/09/2017, English, EdRC)

Industry

The website Comic Spain has been created to promote the comics industry in the country. Link (04/09/2017, Spanish, EdRC)

UK

Culture

From Batman to The Walking Dead: An Illustrator’s Life with Charlie Adlard, is a public lecture organised by Lancaster University, and will take place on the 12th October. Link (English, WG)

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News Editor: Simon Turner (comicsforumnews@hotmail.co.uk)

Correspondents: Enrique de Rey Cabero (EdRC, Spain), Benoît Crucifix (BC, Belgium and France), William Grady (WG, Canada, UK and United States), Martin de la Iglesia (MdlI, Germany), Mihaela Precup (MP, Romania), Renata Rafaella (RR, Portugal), Eszter Szép (ES, Hungary), and Lise Tannahill (LT, France).

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 Simon Turner at the email address above.

 

 

 

 
 

News Review April 2016

Asia

Japan

Culture

Musashino City Kichijoji Art Museum is holding a Hagio Moto SF Original Manga Art Exhibition until the 29th May. Link (05/03/2016, Japanese, JBS)

A book by manga artist and illustrator Rokudenashiko, who was arrested for making a reproduction of her vagina, has been translated into English. Link (English, JBS)

The exhibition, Louvre No. 9, (manga/comics as the 9th art) will be held at the Mori Arts Center Gallery in Tokyo, from the 22nd July until the 25th September (the exhibition will be held in Osaka later in the year). The exhibition will feature original art by, among many others, Enki Bilal and Shin’ichi Sakamoto. Link (Japanese, JBS)

The exhibition She and Her Cat – Everything Flows will be held at the Kyoto International Manga Museum until the 19th June. Link (English, JBS)

Americas

United States

Culture

Creators for Creators is offering up a $30,000 grant to support a single cartoonist or writer/artist duo in their creation of a new and original work of a length between sixty-four and one hundred pages over the course of a single year. The recipient will be selected by committee. Link (English, WG)

Research

The inaugural issue of The Journal of Comics and Culture has been published through Pace University Press. Link (English, WG)

There is a call for papers for an edited collection focusing upon Disability and Superheroes. 400-word abstracts and 50-word bios are due by the 30th June. Link (01/04/2016, English, WG)

Starting in October 2016, the annual Cartoon Crossroads Columbus festival will include an academic symposium, hosted this year at the Ohio State University campus, and the theme will be “Canon Fodder”. 250-500 word abstracts and a two-page CV (or 250 word biographical statement) are due by the 30th June. Link (09/03/2016, English, WG)

Marvel Comics into Film: Essays on Adaptations Since the 1940s, edited by Matthew J. McEniry, Robert Moses Peaslee, and Robert G. Weiner, has been published through McFarland. Link (English, WG)

There is a call for papers for the PCEA Conference, Comics and/as Rhetoric: (Anti)Static Narratives, which takes place at Indiana University of Pennsylvania between the 21st and 22nd October. Abstracts are due by the 1st June 2016. Link (18/04/2016, English, WG)

The Mythology of the Superhero, by Andrew R. Bahlmann, has been published through McFarland. Link (English, WG)

Europe

Austria

Culture

A Nadine Redlich exhibition is being shown in Vienna until the 13th July. Link (07/04/2016, German, MdlI)

Belgium

Culture

There is a call for papers for Nordic Network for Comics Research Conference hosted by Ghent University in collaboration with the University of Liège (ACME) and KU Leuven from the 20th until the 21st April in Ghent. Link (English, BC)

René Hausman, Belgian BD artist and illustrator known for his works involving animals, nature and fairytale elements, has died aged 80. Link 1 (28/04/2016, French, LTa) Link 2 (28/04/2016, English, LTa)

France

Business

Jacques Glénat, French head of the Glénat publishing company, was prominently featured in polemics around the “Panama Papers” leaks on tax evasion. Link (06/04/2016, BC, French)

Culture

The much announced Pandora magazine was published by Casterman, self-professedly announcing the (arguable) “return” of comics magazines in France. Link (13/04/02016, BC, French)

Singer and BD artist Hubert Mounier, of the band L’Affaire Louis’Trio, has died of a heart attack. He was 53. Link (05/05/2016, LTa, French)

Germany

Culture

The 5th Hamburger Graphic Novel Tage will take place from the 9th until the 12th May; guests include Steve Bell and Volker Reiche. Link (German, MdlI)

A Hamid Sulaiman exhibition was shown in Berlin from the 9th until the 18th April. Link (09/04/2016, German, MdlI)

The DoKomi anime and manga convention took place in Düsseldorf from the 30th April until the 1st May; guests included Toshio Maeda. Link (English, MdlI)

Nominations and some of the winners of this year’s Max und Moritz award have been announced. Link (25/04/2016, German, MdlI)

ComFor will host a lecture series at Comic-Salon Erlangen from the 27th until the 29th May. Link (28/04/2016, German, MdlI)

Research

The summer semester of the lecture series, Berliner Comic-Kolloquium, has begun on the 27th April and runs until the 13th July. Link (German, MdlI)

Two talks on humour and webcomics will be given in Essen on the 13th June. Link (14/04/2016, German, MdlI)

Portugal

Culture

From the 27th May until the 12th June, the Historical center of Beja will host the annual International Festival of Comics (XII Festival Internacional de Banda Desenhada de Beja). The festival is comprised of exhibitions, book/magazine launches, author events, workshops and concerts amongst others. Link (28/04/2016, Portuguese, RR)

The Clube Português de Banda Desenhada will be hosting the exhibition Alexandre Herculano in Comics and Eça de Queiroz in Comics. The inauguration took place on the 30th April. Entrance is free and can be visited on Saturdays, from 4pm till 7pm, until the end of May. Link (Portuguese, RR)

Romania

Culture

Sibiu hosted the fourth International Sibiu Comic Con from the 15th to the 17th April. The convention showcased the work of independent Romanian cartoonists, as well as comic book artists from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria and France. Link (15/04/2016, Romanian, MP)

The Cervantes Institute of Bucharest launched an exhibition of comics and illustration related to the life and work of Spanish author Miguel Cervantes, 400 years after his death. The exhibition consists of works by Spanish artists David Rubin and Miguelanxo Prado and runs until the 30th June. Link 1 (Romanian, MP) Link 2 (Spanish, MP)

Spain

Business

Cuadernos de Cómic, a free Spanish research journal about comics, has started a crowdfunding campaign through Verkami in order to maintain its publication rhythm and free-of-charge philosophy. Link (27/04/2016, Spanish, EdRC)

Culture

The 34th edition of the Barcelona Comic Fair will take place from the 5th to the 8th April. Among its confirmed international guests are Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, Cyril Pedrosa and Zerocalcare. There will also be various exhibitions on topics such as females superheroes, social graphic novels and a retrospective of the work of Ibáñez. Link (15/04/2016, English, EdRC)

The AACE (Spanish Association of Comics Authors) has announced the winners of its annual prizes. Link (15/04/2016, Spanish, EdRC)

Research

El guión de cómic, a book coordinated by Gerardo Vilches that includes interviews with five Spanish comic scriptwriters, will be published in May by Diminuta Ediciones. Link (12/03/2016, Spanish, EdRC)

Switzerland

Culture

The winners of the 2016 Fumetto competition have been announced. Link (18/04/2016, German, MdlI)

UK

Culture

The exhibition, Comic Invention, takes place at the Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow, between the 18th March and 17th July. Link (English, WG)

The Great British Graphic Novel, an exhibition looking at the rise of the British Graphic novel, takes place at the Cartoon Museum, London, between the 20th April and 24th July. Link 1 (English, WG), Link 2 (21/04/2016, English, WG)

Education

There are funded places available for the MLitt Comic and Graphic Novels, and MDes Comic and Graphic Novels, at the University of Dundee. Link (11/04/2016, English, WG)

Jobs

The publisher 2000 AD is seeking a Junior Designer. Link (English, WG)

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News Editor: Simon Turner (comicsforumnews@hotmail.co.uk)

Correspondents: Jessica Bauwens-Sugimoto (JBS, Japan), Enrique del Rey Cabero (EdRC, Spain), Benoît Crucifix (BC, Belgium and France), William Grady (WG, United States and UK), Martin de la Iglesia (MdlI, Austria, Germany and Switzerland), Michaela Precup (MP, Romania), Renatta Rafaella (RR, Portugal), and Lise Tannahill (LTa, Belgium and France).

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 Simon Turner at the email address above.

 

News Review January 2016

Americas

Canada

Research

There is a call for papers for the conference “Transmédialité, Bande dessinée, Adaptation”, which will take place as part of the ACFAS convention in Montreal, from the 11th to the 13th May 2016. Abstracts are due by the 5th February. Link (31/12/2015, French, BC)

Culture

As part of its “Imaginings Project” , the Centre for Imaginative Ethnography is holding its ‘Comics and the Anthropological Imagination’ exhibition every Monday which began on the 9th November 2015. Link (03/02/2016, English, ST)

United States

Research

The new issue of Digital Humanities Quarterly (9.4) is a special issue focused upon “Comics as Scholarship”. Link (English, WG)

There is a call for papers for a collection entitled Superheroes and Critical Animal Studies. Abstracts are due by the 15th March for possible inclusion into this edited collection which seeks to explore the world of animal rights and liberation against the backdrop of superheroes in film, television, and comics. Link (24/01/2015, English, WG)

The Comics and Popular Arts Conference (CPAC) invites submissions for its ninth annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, taking place between the 2nd and 5th September. The submission deadline for abstracts is the 15th February. Link (English, WG)

The Visual Narrative Reader, edited by Neil Cohn, has been published through Bloomsbury. Link (English, WG)

There is a call for papers for the conference, Deaf-initely Ironic…? “Cripping” the Comic Con 2016, which takes place at Syracuse University on the 1st April. The deadline for proposals is the 8th February. Link (English, WG)

“How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?”: Women and Jewish American Identity in Contemporary Graphic Memoirs, by Tahneer Oksman, has been published through Columbia University Press. Link (English, WG)

The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics, by Ramzi Fawaz, has been published through New York University Press. Link (English, WG)

Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form, by Hillary Chute, has been published through Harvard University Press. Link (English, WG)

A new book titled Documentary Comics: Graphic Truth-Telling in a Skeptical Age, by Nicky Mickwitz has been published by Palgrave Macmillan which examines some early 21st Century comics as a form of documentary. Link (English, ST)

Asia

Japan

Culture

The exhibition of works by Urasawa Naoki (Author of the best-selling manga series Monster, 20th Century Boys, and Pluto) at Setagaya Literary Museum is open until the 31st March. Related events will be held on the 28th February and the 12th March. Link (Japanese, JBS)

The Graduation Works exhibition of the students graduating Kyoto Seika University’s Faculty of Manga, will be exhibited at Kyoto International Manga Museum from the 17th to the 21st February. During this period, access to the museum is free. Link (English, JBS)

The award-winning works of the 19th Japan Media Arts Festival will be exhibited from the 3rd until the 14th February at the National Art Center in Tokyo (as well as a number of affiliated venues). There are four categories (Art, Entertainment, Animation, and Manga), and the awarded works were chosen from among 4417 from 87 countries. Link (English, JBS)

An exhibition, The Exhibition of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, will be held at Roppongi Hills from the 16th April until the 19th June, with original art from manga artist Takeuchi Naoko. Link (Japanese, JBS)

Europe

Austria

Culture

A Barbara Yelin exhibition is being shown in Krems until the 14th February. Link (28/01/2016, German, MdlI)

France

Business

The most recent Astérix album, Asterix And The Missing Scroll, is France’s highest-selling book of 2015. Link (27/01/2016, French, LTa)

Culture

Belgian author Hermann wins this year’s Grand Prix at the Angoulême International Comics Festival; Here, by Richard McGuire wins best album with Best Series going to Ms. Marvel by G Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. Link 1 (27/11/2016, English, LTa) Link 2 (20/01/2016, English, LTa)

A ‘fake awards ceremony’, preceding the genuine Angoulême International Comics Festival prize giving, has caused more controversy at this year’s festival. Link 1 (1/02/2016, English, LTa) Link 2 (31/01/2016, English, LTa)

A global controversy ensued after the Angoulême International Comics Festival released the long list for its Grand Prix award, which included no women cartoonists. The debate was initiated by the Collectif des Créatrices de Bande Dessinée Contre le Sexisme and fuelled by several nominees backing out of the list. Link 1 (05/01/2016, French, BC) Link 2 (06/01/2016, English, BC)

Research

Neuvième Art 2.0 published a new online issue devoted to Jacques Tardi. Link (11/01/2016, French, BC)

There is a call for papers for the bilingual workshop “Les femmes et la bande dessinée: autorialités et représentations/ Women and comics, authorships and representations,” which will take place on the 2nd June. Abstracts are due by the 31st March. Link (18/01/2016, French/English, BC)

Germany

Culture

The LUCHS children’s book award goes to Der Traum von Olympia by Reinhard Kleist. Link (18/01/2016, German, MdlI)

An exhibition on contemporary LGBT superhero comics is shown in Berlin until the 26th June. Link (21/01/2016, German, MdlI)

A radio feature on Erika Fuchs was broadcast. Link (22/01/2016, German, MdlI)

A Richard McGuire exhibition opens in Frankfurt on the 30th January. Link (25/01/2016, German, MdlI)

An MCM Comic Con is going to take place in Hanover on the 4th and 5th June. Link (26/01/2016, German, MdlI)

Obituary

Hansrudi Wäscher died aged 87 on the 7th January. Link (08/01/2016, German, MdlI)

Research

The January issue of literaturkritik.de focuses on comics. Link (German, MdlI)

Hungary

Culture

The Hungarian Comics Association in co-operation with kArton Gallery has started a series of workshops to promote interaction and creativity in the Hungarian Comics World. The monthly event series will feature talks by artists, discussions of various techniques, and common improvisations. The first workshop was held on the 12th January. Link (Hungarian, ES)

Portugal

Culture

BDteca2016 is taking place until March at the Library of Odemira. The show includes exhibitions, workshops, and a comics contest. Participants can enter until the 12th February. Link (04/01/2016, Portuguese, RR)

The exhibition, Nos 80 Anos d’O Mosquito [In the 80 yeas of O Mosquito], dedicated to the comics magazine O Mosquito, is being hosted at the Portuguese National Library until the 29th February. Link (26/01/2016, Portuguese, RR)

The Clube Português de Banda Desenhada in Amadora is hosting an exhibition related to O Mosquito and is open until the 12th March. Link (15/01/2016, Portuguese, RR)

Spain

Culture

The graphic novels publishing house, Astiberri, has celebrated its 15th anniversary. Link (26/01/2016, Spanish, EdRC)

The University of Córdoba is organising “dialectic battles” between superheroes to promote science. The next ‘battle’ will feature Batman vs. Spiderman (10th February) and Jean Grey vs. Wonder Woman (9th March). Link (10/12/2015, Spanish, EdRC)

Following this year’s Angoulême International Comics Festival’s controversial shortlist not including women, an article has been written about sexism and the role of women in Spanish comics. Link (12/01/2016, Spanish, EdRC)

UK

Culture

The exhibition, Comic Invention, will be hosted at the Hunterian Art Gallery from the 18th March until the 17th July. Link (English, WG)

There is a call for papers for the 17th “Forum for Iberian Studies, which will take place at the University of Oxford between the 29th and 30th September. The conference will focus on current issues in the Iberian Peninsula and there will be a panel on comics. Abstracts between 200 and 250 words should be written in English or, additionally, in any other peninsular language and must be sent by the 1st May. Link (25/01/2016, English, EdRC)

Research

Comics Grid has an event report on the symposium, “From Hogarth to Hellboy: Transformations of the Visual Reader”, which was hosted at Senate House Library, University of London on the 16th December. Link (19/12/2015, English, WG)

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News Editor: Simon Turner (comicsforumnews@hotmail.co.uk)

Correspondents: Jessica Bauwens-Sugimoto (JBS, Japan), Enrique del Rey Cabero (EdRC, Spain), Benoît Crucifix (BC, Canada and France), William Grady (WG, United States and UK), Martin de la Iglesia (MdlI, Austria and Germany), Renatta Rafaella (RR, Portugal), Eszter Szép (ES, Hungary), Lise Tannahill (LTa, France), and Simon Turner (ST, Canada and United States).

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 Simon Turner at the email address above.

 

 

Manga Studies #10: What are you reading? Approaches and reasons for looking at language in manga by Giancarla Unser-Schutz

Introduction

As a fan of manga outside of Japan, there comes a time when one is no longer able to stand waiting for translated editions. Perhaps you search online for scanlations, or head out to your local Japanese bookstore to buy them in the original. Needless to say, taking the latter choice draws its own new problems, primarily being how to read the text, whether by taking Japanese language classes or studying on one’s own. In both cases, it can be the beginning of a long, sometimes frustrating but always exciting journey in acquiring a new language. In full honesty, this is not a general story, but rather my story—and perhaps many readers’ too. While I did not start reading manga anticipating learning Japanese at the time, let alone having it as a specific goal, it would not be an underestimation to say that the linguistic elements of manga quickly became one of the most important aspects for me as a reader.

However, while language skills are clearly a crucial part of reading manga, there is a tendency to underestimate its linguistic side. Pressed to define manga, most people would probably mention their visual side, but it is less certain how many would stress the role of language. While it is hard to find examples as extreme as McCloud (1994), who subordinated language to the visual in comics by reevaluating language as a visual element because it appears as written text, stressing manga’s visual aspects appears to be a deep-rooted tendency in critical evaluations. As Saika (2013, 197–199) notes, post-war criticism of akahon (red-book) manga—cheap manga books popular in the post-war period influential in the development of today’s story-manga—amongst manga artists such as Shimizu Kon, Kondō Hidezō and Yokoyama Ryōichi focused on the lack of artistic skills found in akahon and their overuse of linguistic elements, picking up critical themes brought up in the 1930s by the manga artist Kitazawa Rakuten.

Yet, the linguistic elements of manga are clearly important to the reading experience, for both non-native and native speakers alike: after all, native speakers also need to gain the skills necessary for processing manga. In reality, there are many reasons to think that language is a very important part of modern manga, and below I will review four different approaches and reasons for focusing on language in manga: the role of language in the development of modern story manga, popular perception of manga’s influence on language, manga’s usefulness as a resource for linguistic research, and tying it back up, the use of manga in Japanese language study.

Approaches to language in manga
1. Language had an important role in the development of modern story manga

First, language appears to be crucial in enabling the complexity of story-oriented manga. According to Takeuchi (2005), language in manga used to be redundant in nature. However, starting in the post-war period, language increasingly came to complement the pictures by adding information not directly expressed in the images. Thus, where previously a drawing of a boy fishing might have been accompanied by the line “I’m fishing,” in later manga, the line would only indirectly describe the action, such as “my mom makes great fried fish.” This move away from redundancy is significant because it allows for juxtaposition between drawings and written text, one of the most important characteristics of comics by some accounts (Harvey 2001). It also has an impact on manga’s readability. Upon showing students of English as a second language the same comic with different verbal components, Liu (2004) found that while comics whose verbal components were more difficult—and thus less strongly linked to their visual component—somewhat helped beginner students, they were actually harder to interpret for advanced students than the text presented alone, suggesting that images may present conflicting information. By inference, the non-redundancy of language in manga suggests that they can be difficult to process, which would go against popular discourse: as Ikegami (2013) has noted, the idea that manga are easy to read is deeply rooted, even though manga literacy requires intense exposure.

Language also appears to have played an important role in the development of the shōjo manga genre. It is generally argued that shōjo manga came into itself in the mid-1970s and early 1980s with the so-called Magnificent 49ers (Hana no 24nen gumi). Interestingly, both Ōtsuka (1994) and Takeuchi (2005) have pointed out how the shōjo manga from this time period began to use text in very unusual ways, particularly in that it often used written text outside speech bubbles. Floating through the drawings, such written text appeared like a poem or monologue, leading to a multiplicity of voices and acting as a window into characters’ inner selves. While it appears these kinds of written texts as a strictly-shōjo manga characteristic has decreased (as a result of increased intertextuality between shōjo manga and shōnen manga and the apparent difficulty of their reading for some (Ōtsuka 1994)), some of these differences do still exist, if in somewhat different forms: in my research, I have found that shōjo manga seems to use more handwritten, out-of-speech-bubble, non-onomatopoeic language, which appears to also create a multiplicity of voices and intimacy to the text (Unser-Schutz 2011).

2. Manga are popularly viewed as influential on language

The general public also appears to approach manga as verbal texts. Readers find inspiration in their words, demonstrated by the plethora of books collecting manga sayings, such as They’ll Change Your Life! 1,000 Great Sayings from Manga (Nihon Hakushiki Kenkyūjo 2012) and the five-volume Manga Sayings to the Heart (Gakken Kyōiku Shuppan 2014). Manga consistently rank at the top of influential things on young people’s speech in surveys by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs (2015a), with 45% of respondents in 2015. Yet the manga-are-easy discourse re-emerges as a problem, as clear from parents’ many posts on advice sites, from the mother worried about her child’s grades on the child-rearing site PapiMami (sarah 2015) to the parent who wants their child to read books other than manga on Yahoo! Chiebukuro, the Japanese Yahoo! Questions (Anonymous user 2005).

This perception licenses making manga the scapegoat for many linguistic ‘ailments’: one example is the use of the masculine first-person pronouns boku and ore by young women, for which manga are often blamed, as in Endō’s (2001) survey results amongst female college students and Nakamura (2007), who found similar anecdotes amongst elementary students. Of course, popular opinion is not fully reliable; young readers do appear to read manga more than non-manga books, at a little over 30 minutes per day (Cabinet Office 2007), but only 2.6% of people only read manga, whereas 54.1% read both manga and non-manga books, suggesting they do not replace other types of books (Agency for Cultural Affairs 2015b). There are hints that popular perception is increasingly positive; advice doled out by professionals is not necessarily negative, as in the response given to the parent worried about grades above. As I discuss in Unser-Schutz (2015), the role of manga in language change is also not very well established, and probably does not warrant the concern it receives. Yet, given the impact that these assumptions have on the discourse surrounding manga reading, they are still pertinent points for anyone interested in the social perception of manga.

3. Manga’s characteristics make them a unique resource for linguistic research

How manga are perceived ties into questions of language attitudes and folk linguistics, making manga a prime source for these issues, but manga are a prime resource for linguistic research for others reasons as well. Because different types of text are presented as visually different to clarify their roles, manga can be a resource for examining how language is used in different contexts. Research on onomatopoeia—words imitative of or mimicking real sounds—has particularly flourished. There are few contexts where onomatopoeia would be used as creatively and frequently as they are in comics; research such as Inoue’s (2009) have picked up on this by examining the formation of onomatopoeic neologisms, and manga have also been useful for cross-linguistic comparisons and translation research on onomatopoeia (Fujimura 2012; Inose 2010; Kawasaki 2006; Mizuno 2003; Takahashi 2006).

The most popular topic on language in manga in recent years is likely yakuwari-go or ‘role language’. Kinsui (2003, 205) defined yakuwari-go as the kinds of speech used “when one can recall a particular image of a person . . . upon hearing a particular style of speech . . ., or when given an image of a particular person one can recall a style of speech that it would seem they would very likely use . . . .”—that is, stereotyped speech associated with given images or types of people. While stereotyped speech has long been a topic in the field of stylistics, naming the phenomenon has given a new focus to the topic, and yakuwari-go appear to be especially important to manga: Kinsui (2007b, 98) himself has claimed that manga would not be without it. Since the term’s coinage, a flurry of research has come out; in addition to two volumes edited by Kinsui (2007a; 2011), there have been 64 articles dealing with yakuwari-go since 2001 on Ci.Nii, the research database run by the Japanese National Institute of Informatics. While they do not all have to do with manga, many do; like onomatopoeia, cross-linguistic comparisons are common themes, such as Jung (2005), who showed that the elements used in creating stereotypical speech are different in Japanese and Korean. While the problematic discourse on manga’s easiness may have led some to be hesitant to look at its language, the volume of research coming out on yakuwari-go clearly establishes manga’s potential as a linguistic resource.

4. Manga are increasingly used as a resource for Japanese language learning

Finally, manga are clearly an important motivation for many students of Japanese, with up to 80% choosing to study it because of an interest in manga and/or anime (Kumano 2010). It has also been suggested that students get into them easily (Okazaki 1993) and that the familiarity students have with manga can encourage student engagement (Murakami 2008). This is one of the few contexts where manga’s presumed easiness is viewed positively; it has been suggested that the visual aspects of manga can offer clarifying information to make characters’ relationships, situations, and grammatical structures easier for readers to understand (Kaneko 2008, Murakami 2008), making them ideal for non-native speakers in need of help interpreting.

Of course, as Liu’s (2004) research has shown, this assumption may not be well-formed, pointing to the need for more data-based research on the use of language in manga. Chinami (2015), who reviews the characteristics of manga in terms of Japanese language education, specifically notes three problems that need to be dealt with: selection of appropriate series, both in terms of student interest and applicability to language study; sufficient linguistic research and series analysis; and the creation of appropriate classwork. Practical ways to use manga are especially crucial, and there have been some proposals, such as Hongo (2007), who examined a back-translation task to engage with context, and several proposals have focused on the use of manga to examine viewpoint and expressions in narrative contexts (Takemura 2010; Tanapat 2013; Tawarayama 2013). There has also been some development of open resources like Anime-manga.jp, a website created by the Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Institute, Kansai (2010) based on Kumano’s and her team’s research. Anime-manga.jp aims not just to teach Japanese through manga, but also to help readers study language specific to manga, such as yakuwari-go by character types. By presenting practical applications for topics such as yakuwari-go, efforts like these present themselves as one of the final products of the research conducted on the characteristics of language in manga, offering an important outlet for the knowledge thus gained.

Conclusions

As should be clear by now, there are many reasons to look at language in manga, and just as many possible ways to approach them; naturally, not all of the possibilities have been laid out here, either. As hinted at earlier, the use of language in manga is closely tied to manga literacy and the skills needed to be a competent manga reader. The relationship between text and image is also a topic worthy of its own article and cuts across many of the issues brought up above, from the development of linguistic elements in manga to yakuwari-go. There is a vast range of possibilities when taking up language as a topic for manga research, any of which would contribute to our understanding of manga as a medium and manga in society. If there is anything critical to say, it is that precisely because research on language in manga can be conducted in so many different ways and with so many different goals, there sometimes seems to be a lack of communication between the different fields. In the future, attempts to further and more comprehensively integrate the ways that language can be approached in manga and draw out connections between the different topics would be particularly useful.

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Biography

Giancarla Unser-Schutz is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Psychology at Rissho University, Japan. She earned her PhD at Hitotsubashi University in Japan in sociology. Her research focuses on the role and characteristics of language in manga, using quantitative data from a corpus of popular series. She has particularly analyzed (1) the structural characteristics of language in manga, (2) the lexical and orthographic makeup of manga, and (3) characterization through linguistic patterns. Comments and feedback are always appreciated at giancarlaunserschutz@ris.ac.jp.

 
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Comics Forum Articles Among Hooded Utilitarian’s Best of 2013

For the second year running, articles published by Comics Forum are among the Best Online Comics Criticism as selected by The Hooded Utilitarian. The selected articles from 2013 are:

Between Supermen: Homosociality, Misogyny, and Triangular Desire in the Earliest Superman Stories by Eric Berlatsky

Narrative breakdown in The Long and Unlearned Life of Roland Gethers by Hannah Miodrag

‘Chercher dans le Noir’ – the gap as motif in Caboto by Lorenzo Mattotti and Jorge Zentner and The dissolution of the pictorial content in Hugo Pratt’s ‘Corto Maltese’ and Lorenzo Mattotti’s ‘Fires’ by Barbara Uhlig

Literary Impressionism and Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (2000) by Paul Williams

Congratulations to our authors, and thanks to The Hooded Utilitarian for the mentions! Click here to see the full HU list of the Best Online Comics Criticism of 2013.

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