Manga Scholarship in the Eisners – Conclusion

Over two posts earlier this year, I discussed the list of nominees in the “Best Scholarly/Academic Work” category for the 2014 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards – two essay collections with chapters on manga, and the International Journal of Comic Art, which has consistently published articles on various topics related to Japanese comics. The 2014 Eisners were announced and presented on July 25 at a San Diego Comic Con ceremony. The title selected to receive the Best Scholarly/Academic Work Eisner was Black Comics: The Politics of Race and Representation (2013, Bloomsbury Academic). The book is an “analytic history of the diverse contributions of Black artists to the medium of comics” – and, as I mentioned when I first found out about it, its scope turns out to include one title that definitely fits under the definition of manga – a comic that is published in Japanese and for a Japanese audience. The comic in question is Felipe Smith’s Peepo Choo, written by a non-Japanese author, but published first in the Japanese magazine Morning 2, and then translated by the author himself for U.S. publication. Casey Brienza (City University London), who has rapidly risen to be one of the most prominent scholars of manga and the manga industry outside Japan discusses it in the chapter ‘Beyond B&W: The global manga of Felipe Smith’. Can Prof. Brienza now call herself an Eisner-winning author – in addition to her already-impressive roster of academic honors such as the LSE Review of Books Biteback Prize for Most-Read Review in Media and Cultural Studies, the ASA/SAGE Teaching Innovations & Professional Development Award, and the Japan-U.S. Communication Association Top Student Paper Award? That, of course, is up to her. But one thing is clear – news like these do an excellent job of demonstrating that comics scholarship – and manga scholarship is not an accidental or one-time thing. It exists, it has a place and a niche to fill, and rightfully deserves recognition alongside all other types of academic writing. Of course, it will be even more interesting to see a book that deals entirely or primarily with manga – such as Prof. Brienza’s upcoming Manga in America: Transnational Book Publishing and the Domestication of Japanese Comics or the Global Manga: The Cultural Production of “Japanese” Comics without Japan volume that she is currently editing – get an Eisner nomination. But what we have already – over three years of the category, two essay collections both with chapters on Japanese comics – is already a promising and exciting start!

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