Anime and manga in the OA “Comic Book & Graphic Novel Collection”

The trend towards “open access” is probably the single most important recent development in academic/scholarly publishing, across many different subject ares, and disciplines. As I mentioned in an earlier post, much of the discussion of the new issues, as well as the challenges and controversies, of open access publishing focus on the STM (“science, technology, and medicine”) fields. But open access as a model and a practice is by no means limited to those fields, and scholars in the social sciences and the humanities/liberal arts are embracing it as well. So, for example, of the 75 English-language articles on anime/manga published in academic journals last year that I am aware of, 29 (39%) are available in open access. This compares to 37 of 81 (46%) for articles published in 2013 (the slightly larger percentage is due to two special issues on anime/manga and related topics in Transformative Works and Cultures and the Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Culture), and 22 of 64 (34%) for those published in 2012. In fact, the percentage seems to be holding this year too – with 5 open access articles out of the 13 that have been published on anime/manga so far – a ratio of 38%.

One important thing to remember about “open access” is that it is a model that can be implemented in several different ways. Some journals do not place any restrictions on access to individual articles – examples include Animation Studies, Intensities: The Journal of Cult Media, and Red Feather Journal: An International Journal of Children in Popular Culture. In fact, these kinds of journals are usually only available online – and so, their publishers do not incur any expenses that would be associated with producing and distributing actual print issues. A related approach is to simply place PDF versions of full issues online for public access – one journal that follows this approach is the Japan Studies Review. Others make selected articles (or even selected issues) available in open access – as with the Autumn 2011 issue of Signs (“recognized as the leading international journal in women’s studies”), and with several – but not all – of the articles in Japan Forum‘s new Japanese Popular Culture and Contents Tourism special issue. Another way to implement open access (generally referred to as “green open access”) is by placing individual articles online – either on authors’ personal web pages, or in institutional repositories. However, green open access to publications in the humanities is still relatively uncommon, and of course, this approach requires additional effort on the part of the author and/or the academic institution that he or she is affiliated with. Australian universities have been particularly active in embracing green open access, and so, many of Mio Bryce’s publications on anime/manga are available through the Macquarie University ResearchOnline repository, and Mark McLelland’s can be accessed through the University of Wollongong’s Research Online.

Generally, “tradition” academic publishers have had a complicated relationship with open access, definitely seeing it as a challenge to the standard business model of charging readers and institutions for subscriptions to individual journals and to journal databases, but not as something that threatens to destroy the business model completely. In fact, many major publishers are now themselves launching open access journals (the answer to the obvious question of how does a publisher make money with a journal that is “given away for free” lies in the unique nature of academic publishing – an open access publisher such as Cogent OA will ask an author of an article to contribute a publishing charge, presumably drawn from the research/publication funds that are provided to the author by their college or university). And, one new approach that I am particularly interested in is publishers using open access as a marketing tool.

Specifically, Taylor & Francis Online, the platform for electronic access to academic journals published under the Routledge and Taylor & Francis imprints has recently announced the launch of a Comic Book & Graphic Novel Collection – a specially curated selection of journal articles on comic books and graphic novels that have been published in Routledge journals over the last decade. Open access to the included articles will be available through the end of August. The collection covers a total of 25 articles. 6 of them were originally published in the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, but the other 19 appeared in journals that are not specifically focused on comics, such as Celebrity Studies, Life Writing, and the Quarterly Review of Film and Video. And, of the 25, two deal specifically with anime/manga

Choo, Kukhee (2008). Girls return home: Portrayal of femininity in popular Japanese girls’ manga and anime texts during the 1990s in Hana Yori Dango and Fruits BasketWomen: A Cultural Review19(3), 275-296.

Kukhee Choo is currently Associate Professor, Visual Media, Sophia University (Tokyo, Japan). The goal of her essay is to focus on these two anime/manga “in order to better understand how Japanese females construct their own concepts of femininity.”

Brienza, Casey (2010). Producing comics culture: A sociological approach to the study of comics. Journal of Graphic Novels & Comics, 1(2), 105-119.

Casey Brienza is Lecturer, Publishing and Digital Media, City University London. She is the author of the upcoming monograph Manga in America: Transnational Book Publishing and the Domestication of Japanese Comics and the editor of the upcoming essay collection Global Manga: ‘Japanese’ Comics Without Japan?, and has written a number of book chapters and journal articles on manga, the manga industry, and academic publishing. The basic thesis of Dr. Brienza’s paper is that “it is not sufficient merely to study the text and/or the artist to whom the work is directly attributed; to fully understand any artistic work, one must also study the larger social and organizational context of its production and dissemination” – the “cultural production” (or “production of culture”) approach. She then specifically extends this approach to the creation of manga in Japan and its distribution to readers in both Japan and in the U.S.

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