Over any given year, scholars who are interested in presenting their work on comics (including manga) at academic conferences have several options available to them. The San Diego Comic-Con hosts its annual Comic Arts Conference. Mechademia: Conference on Asian Popular Culture (originally launched as Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits: Culture and Creation in Manga and Anime) is another well-known project. The University of Florida’s Comics Studies program also organizes an annual Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels, as does the Canadian Society for the Study of Comics. And the Popular Culture Association actively encourages scholars to submit papers on “all aspects of the medium” for presentation at its annual conference under the Comics and Comic Art area.
Recently, I found out about another academic conference that may be of interested to anyone working with Japanese comics. Starting in 2012, Inter-Disciplinary.net has been organizing an annual The Graphic Novel conference, held every September on the campus of University of Oxford’s Mansfield College. In the two years that this conference has been held so far, it has featured at lest four talks on particular aspects of Japanese comics:
Nakagaki, Kotoro. The Atomic holocaust in the perspectives of shōjo: From Sirato Sanpei’s A Vanishing Girl to Kōno Fumiyo’s At the Corner of This World.
Suzuki, Shige. Gekiga as the Japanese version of graphic novel: Social sritique in Shirato Sanpei’s comics works.
Cavcic, Antonija. From dashing to delicious: The gastrorgasmic aesthetics of contemporary BL manga.
“The prominence (and even fetishisation) of food in Japan is not a recent phenomenon, Western media’s current infatuation with food and the concept of “food porn” and/or the sexing-up of food media culture (as demonstrated in such programs as No Reservations, The Naked Chef, or in Nigella Lawson’s series), is a cultural movement which I define as “global gastrorgasmic texts.” While audio-visual media have a certain sensory advantage, Japanese gourmet manga, have attempted to embrace the fetishization of food since the 1980s with titles such as Oishinbo (“The Gourmet”), Cooking Papa, or Bambino! (an ambitious Japanese chef-in-training at an Italian restaurant).
This presentation concerns the incorporation of the fetishisation of food and the shift of focus from the aesthetics of beauty in the bishounen/beautiful youths in boys’ love comics to the gastrorgasmic aesthethics of food in boys’ love (BL) manga. Drawing examples from mainstream BL manga (such as Yoshinaga’s iconic Antique series, the more recent What did You Eat Yesterday? and Not Love but Delicious Food), as well as several minor publications, I will demonstrate how BL manga artists and its fan readership have arguably incorporated and embraced gastrorgasmic themes and motifs. I argue that BL narratives amplify the pleasure derived from visually “consuming” beautiful boys as well as the tantalising treats they prepare. Furthermore, this paper questions what these gastrorgasmic texts might reflect about Japanese and global culture in the current socio-economic climate.”
Sinervo, Kalervo. The unplundered side of piracy: The work done by comics scanners
This year’s conference will run from September 3 to September 5, and one again, at least one of the presentations in the program will deal with a manga title.
Manga has a great influence from cinematic tradition thanks to the God of manga, Osamu Tezuka, who brought this revolutionary change to the creation of manga (Palmer, 2009 & Schodt, 1983). Unlike static theatrical views, cinematic views give artists freedom to vary angles, perspectives and distances of shots as if they are holding a camera. Cinematic techniques work with the sequential nature of manga to invite readers to actively engage and identify with characters. This paper intends to discuss how manga artists employ framing skills of cinematic views to draw readers’ identification with characters. Examples are drawn from Masashi Kishimoto’s famous work, Naruto, and a case study that was conducted in May 2013 with sixteen secondary school students, aged between 12 and 15. The case study was carried out in a qualitative approach with semi-structured group and individual interviews. During the discussion of Naruto volume 6, it was noticed that some of the students actively engaged themselves in the situation of the antagonist and showed identification with the character because of the artist’s choice of views and cuts in one selected page. The excerpt of the students’ responses shows the dynamics of reading that involves three basic agents – reader, author and text. The three agents also contribute to multi-layers of identification during the reading of manga. This paper will present the aesthetic experience of particular readers with credits to the artistic aspects of manga.