I had no idea this even existed, but it’s quite fantastic! It’s a segment from the NHK series Shojo comic o kaku about drawing shojo manga, where they visit a new manga artist in every episode and film them drawing. These 12 segments are up on youtube:
Let’s talk about sexism and while we’re at it let’s talk about racism too. And yes, I’m going to make this about manga because after reading Franck Bondoux response to the artist boycott of the Angouleme Grand Prix my feelings about a lot of things were stirred up again.
Before I say anything more if you haven’t heard about the fact that this year’s nominees for the Angouleme Grand Prix, a lifetime achievement award for comic creators, included 30 nominees and 0 of them were woman then read this article and catch up. Also don’t skip over Franck Bondoux, the executive officer of the awards, response to the boycott: “Unfortunately, there are few women in the history of comics,” he said.
“That’s the reality. Similarly, if you go to the Louvre, you will find
few women artists.”
Excuse me? EXCUSE ME?!
Now I’m going to talk about manga but of course I want to say that there are deserving female artists all of the world who could have also been nominated for this award like Marjane Satrapi (who made the short list) or even Lynn Johnston, who helped popularize graphic novels in American in an age where comics = superheroes and very little else. Seriously there are women drawing stellar comics all over the world!
But let’s look at Japan. Right now there are hundreds of women in Japan publishing high-quality comics on a monthly, biweekly, or weekly basis in a wide variety of genres and for a vast audience. Women who write for a primarily male audience? Japan has that! Women who write for other women? Got that too! Women writing for young girls - some of whom will be so captivated by those stories they will start writing comics themselves? Sure thing!
Let me toss out some names for you >>
Keiko Takemiya: Western filmmakers have been stealing story ideas from Takemiya-sensei for years without crediting her. She’s also one of those genre bending artists who can write and draw almost anything. She also helped popularize both science fiction and shounen-ai in manga. Her huge influence on manga continues today as she is a professor in manga studies at Kyoto Seika University before moving on to becoming university president. Not only has she advanced comics creation but she’s also helped develop the medium and encouraged others to further the medium in the process. Putting gender aside, few comics creators are more deserving of recognition than Takemiya-sensei!
Momoko Sakura: She turned autobiographical anecdotes into one of Japan’s most recognizable manga properties: Chibi Maruko-chan. Thirty years after creating the character, Maruko-chan is still insanely popular. She just wrapped up what I personally think is one of the best comics about cultural exchange ever written: Chibi Maruko-chan - Kimi o Wasurenai yo which was easily one of the best comics of the year. If that’s not lifetime achievement, what is?!
Rumiko Takahashi: If you read manga, you’ve read something by Takahashi-sensei at some point. She’s a certifiable hit maker who also stands as the best selling female comic creator of all time. For decades now she’s be a woman at the top of the shounen world writing stories that boys and girls young and old have gobbled up without abandon. Like comedy? There’s Ranma ½! Creepy folk tales? There’s Ningyo no Mori! How about action? She’s done that a couple times (InuYasha, Kyoukai no Rinne, etc). She’s even written adult-oriented romances like Maison Ikkoku. There’s nothing she can’t do.
Nao Yazawa: After helping to contribute to the success of fledgling shoujo mangazine Ciao in the 90s with her magical girl series Wedding Peach, Yazawa-sensei has become a premiere cultivator of new talent by teaching manga classes in both Japanese and English. She also never forgets that while an art form, manga is also supposed to entertain.
Koi Ikeno: She wrote a multi-generational paranormal drama that included a huge cast of characters and its own mythology for a decade plus and influenced an entire generation of female mangaka that followed her into publication.
Ai Yazawa: She tells painfully true stories about modern life as a woman and yet somehow has written an incredibly diverse catalog that includes supernatural ghost stories (Kagen no Tsuki), comedies (Tenshi Nanka ja Nai), and one of the greatest feminist stories in the history of manga (NANA).
Naoko Takeuchi: Oh have you heard of Sailor Moon? No? I don’t believe you. Name me another female superhero who has the same reach and recognizably as Sailor Moon and you’ll probably come up blank. But playing on Sailor Moon’s icon image is almost undermining Takeuchi-sensei’s skills. She mixed action, romance, and complicated mythology with a cast made up almost exclusively of teenage girls: heroes and villians both! She incorporated traditionally “girly” ideas into an action series and reinvented the magical girl genre in a way that set new standard that would be copied by dozens of other artists and anime producers. Few comic creators will ever single handily create a property as loved as Sailor Moon. She might not be nominated for Angouleme, but history will remember her!
Few women in the history of comics? FALSE!
There are hundreds of talent female creators who will never get the recognition they deserve. And many of those creators will dismissed simply because they write manga, which is a medium the comics world fights hard to ignore. But it’s time for that to stop. There are way too many talented Japanese women for Western comics to ignore. And they’re not going anywhere. Guess who won this year’s Shogakukan’s Newcomer Artist Award: a 14-year-old girl. To dismiss these talented women because of the country they are from or because they work at a faster rate in serialized magazines instead of color graphic novels is ridiculous.
It’s about as ridiculous as nominating 30 men and 0 women for a lifetime achievement award in comics.
This is a list of 13 women who kick all the ass at shonen manga, spanning from the pioneers of the 70s to today. Please take a look to learn about these amazing ladies and also about some great manga! Some of my favorite comic artists period are on here.
Please read, reblog and share on facebook to support my work and spread the good word about these women!
Hi guys! I’m doing everything I can to support my favorite charity, The Time In Children’s Arts Initiative. Time In teaches opera through hands on art as well as literature through manga with entire classes of kids from 3 of NYC’s most underfunded schools. Time In happens during the school day for a half-day every week, alternating weeks between studio time and gallery hops to NYC’s most fabulous galleries and museums. The program keeps getting bigger, and next year, Time In kids will go all the way from Pre-K through the 5th grade, serving 800 kids!
In the pictures above, you can see some of the wonderful Time In Kids’ drawings of characters from Benjamin Britten’s opera of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and vintage-manga-inspired princesses of the sea from Rimsky-Korsakov‘s opera Sadko.
To help support this incredible organization, I’m doing a vintage manga charity-read! I’m starting with the 9 manga in the first picture. To help me out in my charity-reading quest, I would love it if you would donate as little or as much as you can. I’ll be giving updates on every manga on the list. Don’t be shy, every dollar counts!
CHIBA TETSUYA ON DRAWING GIRLS IN EARLY SHOJO MANGA Excerpt of interview with Hanamura Eiko, Chiba Tetsuya, and Takemiya Keiko (source)
Takemiya: Chiba, you were drawing shojo manga at the start of your career.
Chiba: There were so few female manga artists back then1, so it wasn’t just me, but people like Ishinomori Shotaro, Akatsuka Fujio, and Matsumoto Reiji also drew shojo manga back when they were still up and comers. Tezuka Osamu and other artists of an older generation than us were active in shonen manga at that time, so we couldn’t break into that demographic. We drew shojo manga because that’s where the work was.
Takemiya: Wasn’t it difficult for you to draw girls?
Chiba: Not only was it difficult, we were four boys in my family. I wasn’t close to any girls growing up. My mother was someone who raised four sons, she ruled with an iron fist. She wasn’t traditionally feminine.
Takemiya: She must have been a strong mother.
Chiba: Exactly. So at the beginning, I thought girls were sensitive and would cry a lot, and that a strong girl was someone who would silently endure hardships without ever complaining… that’s the kind of image I had of girls in my mind. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t really understand the thoughts and emotions of a girl. Back then, I would go to used bookstores in Kanda2 to look for resources like magazines and novels for girls, as well as books on fashion design. I mean, I had no idea what girls were wearing, like what type of underwear (laugh).
Hanamura: You didn’t know what skirts looked like?
Chiba: I knew what skirts looked like on the outside (laugh), but I didn’t know what girls wore under them. And what would a girl’s room look like, how would it be furnished? I especially had a hard time imagining what a rich girl’s room would be like. I had a lot of trouble when I had to draw girls who were from well-off families; I had no idea what sort of curtains they would have, so I ended up decorating them with Japanese-style foliage scrollwork3 (laugh). If it’s a girl from a working-class Tokyo family, I’d be able to imagine her room a little better, like how she’d probably use an old box of mandarins as her desk.
Hanamura: Back then, Japan was very poor, so I don’t think there were that many well-off families.
Chiba: No, but in manga, you’d have characters who are daughters of rich families. I imagined there’d be a fountain in their garden, and maybe they’d have a pool, and so on, and I wrote a great deal of very sad shojo manga that way.
Hanamura: Back then, the publishers all ordered, “Write stories about girls in misery.” They told us to make the readers cry as much as we could. That was the atmosphere back when Chiba and I were young manga artists.
Chiba: Movies were like that too back then. The popular movies were all about mothers and daughters, or about step-mothers.
Takemiya: So the editors told you to write manga modelled after hit movies?
Chiba: I’m sure the movies had an influence. Literary writers like Kawabata Yasunari and Enchi Fumiko4 were also writing novels for girls, and most of them were sad stories about girls who had to endure a horrible fate, but still acted admirably. But when I was writing stories where girls endured, and then endured some more, I started having so much pent-up stress. One day, when I was just so tired, my protagonist snapped. She said “I can’t endure this anymore!” and slapped a boy. When I turned in that manuscript, the editor was so shocked. He said, “You’d only just gotten popular! Your popularity will suffer with a protagonist like this, please re-do this,” but fortunately, I’m a very slow writer, so my deadline had already passed. They couldn’t do anything but print it.
What happened was, I received so many letters from fans who copied the scene of the protagonist snapping and slapping a boy, saying, “This is why I love this protagonist, Yuka-chan!” So I thought, “What I drew was right.” There’s no difference between girls and boys, when you’re vexed you’re vexed, and when you’re angry, you’re angry. From that moment on, I completely changed what I was writing.
Takemiya: I was reading your shojo manga thinking your girl protagonists were full of energy and very realistic. I think that can be credited with making the readers realize that they were no different from boys. Maybe that was an incentive for some attitudes to start changing.
Chiba: Back then, I reacted very strongly to letters from fans, and they encouraged me to keep going. There were many times I’d read a letter and decide that what I was doing wasn’t wrong, and that I should continue down the path I was going.
Takemiya: When it comes down to it, the direct feedback from readers is what writers can trust the most, and what you can most confidently use as guideposts. I’m a fan of your Shidenkai no Taka5, and I feel that how you drew the protagonist of that manga shows influence from shojo manga, such as your Yuka o yobu umi6.
Chiba: You know, I’d been writing shojo manga for so long, when I started drawing boys, they’d still have long eyelashes (laugh).
Takemiya: That’s what I love!
Chiba: Their eyes became moist. I was trying very hard to draw boys, but what do you call it, my hand had gotten used to a certain way of drawing faces, so I ended up drawing long eyelashes, and for a while that was a big problem for me. It took me some time to get out of that habit. As I wrote sidekick characters or really despicable villains in shonen manga, the eyelashes started to fade away. But when I look at close-ups from Ashita no Joe, I still think he has quite long eyelashes.
Takemiya: I really loved the eyelashes on Shidenkai no Taka, like how they looked when he had downcast eyes. In many ways, I’ve been influenced by Chiba’s shojo manga-style shonen heroes.
1. Chiba Tetsuya made his debut in 1958, and wrote his first shonen manga in 1961. 2. Kanda is a district of Chiyoda, Tokyo famous for its many used bookstores. 2. A fabric pattern popular for items such as furoshiki, and not at all associated with the upper classes in Japan. 4. Both popular writers of the Showa period. 5. 1963-1965. An early shonen hit by Chiba about young pilots in the Pacific War. 6. 1959-1960. An early shojo work by Chiba.
I’m not going to link to anything or name any names, but I just found some old posts on tumblr that were so wrong about the history of shojo manga it came out as being sort of offensive. I hope no one truly believed what those articles said…
Just for the record, the Year 24 Group didn’t come into shojo manga at a time when men dominated; they came in at a time when people like Mizuno Hideko had already laid down the groundwork and people like Uehara Kimiko were hugely popular. People really shouldn’t dismiss those forerunners, it’s offensive.
The Year 24 Group did start incorporating genres such as science fiction and themes such as gender and homosexuality into shojo manga, but it’s also entirely wrong to say that shojo manga up until then had only been about romance and what the Year 24 Group did was a subversion of this. It’s much more accurate to say that shojo manga, back when it was dominated by men, had a taboo about romance; girls were interested in reading about romance and sex, but this was considered, by the male publishers and editors, to be unsuitable for young women, whom they considered too pure for such things. Mizuno Hideko fought to write about romance, something she saw as an integral part of girls and women’s lives. Again, dismissing this is kind of offensive to me.
Another minor thing, which is something I’ve been meaning to post a translation about in forever, is that the “Year 24 Group” moniker was invented by the year 24 group themselves, in an effort to set them apart. Takemiya and her Oizumi Salon friends were very focused on self promotion.