Event: Queer Manga Panel at NYU – tonight!

October 21st, 2009

If you’re local to NYC, I hope you’ll join me, Hiroki Otsuka, June Kim, Ivan Velez Jr. and Mari Morimoto for a panel on Queer Manga.

Date: Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Time: 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Location: Kimmel Center, Room 912
Street: 60 Washington Square South
City/Town: New York, NY

We’re going to discuss Bara, Bian and other Queer manga, as well as the artists’ current and upcoming projects. It’s going to be a great panel – I hope to see you there!

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5 Responses

  1. susurin says:

    Hi Erica,
    I was one of the NYU students at the Queer Manga panel last night (the girl with a huge flower sprouting on the side of her head, haha). There were a few questions I wanted to ask, but since the Q&A session was unfortunately cut short, I hope you don’t mind if I ask them here. I discussed these issues at great length with a friend of mine, Alanna Mori, who is student with Professor Allison at Duke University (Alanna thought that you and Professor Allison might know each other, so I thought it was worth mentioning). I’ve also included some of the questions Alanna raised when I described the panel to her. Any mischaracterizations are entirely my fault, and I do hope you could correct any misconceptions I may have about the views and attitudes expressed by you and members of your panel.
    While I do believe that most mainstream Yaoi and Yuri manga rely heavily upon/produce/promulgate problematic fantasies about same sex relationships, I was very surprised by the derisive tone used to mention the lack of sex in a great deal of popular Yuri manga marketed to girls/women.
    Alanna supposed that it could be read as disempowering to not have representations of female sexuality, but, if that is the primary issue, she would like to ask–“isn’t it also equally as empowering to see intimacy that isn’t premised upon sex? Which, quite frankly, is premised upon difference? Especially since sex is often theorized as being inherently violent for women?”
    Or was the complaint about the lack of sex was simply expressing a desire for more true to life representations of lesbian relationships and more depictions of the moments proportional to their significance within lesbian life?
    There seemed to be a premium placed upon depictions that are more “real,” but I felt as if this ideal realism, this idea of there potentially being some kind of “authentic” Queer Manga, is more alienating than potentially empowering. Having queer people writing queer stories is undoubtedly important and deeply meaningful. Manga-ka vehemently declaring that they never came out after becoming famous is equal parts saddening and infuriating. But does a mangaka’s explicit identification of their sexual orientation somehow make their stories more or less legitimate? Doesn’t insisting on a manga-ka falling into one category or another reify constructions of sexuality?
    I remember hearing you say that you tended to choose more female writers/artists than male for your publication, but that if a man could tell a good story, you’d still accept that good story—so what is your stance in this regard? Is the product of an openly queer artist/writer more valuable because it is rare and imbued with symbolic meaning? What about works within fandom? How do you rate the impact of and regard the representations of queer people in fanfiction, written by masked phantasms free to construct whatever identity they please?
    I fully recognize the value of promoting Bian and Bara manga. Bara mangaka—particularly those who illustrate the love lives of average, everyday men, paunchy men with body hair and droopy eyes, older men, unassuming in their demeanor—deserve every bit of the praise they received the other night. Yet, there was also much emphasis placed on how many of the artists’ borrowed a great deal from American comic art. The laudatory terms used when speaking about this move towards American comic book naturalism in character design struck me as a bit odd though—isn’t the fact that it is so very unnatural and highly stylized, the fact that it is immediately identifiably as a product of fantasy, that allows its audience to not only explore certain kinds of relationships and sexualities that they are denied in reality, but also to confront their assumptions about gender and sexuality?

  2. susurin says:

    Whoops! Blogger probably includes the name of my google account or something but I forgot to put in a real signature–my name is Szuwei Co, and I left a ridiculously long comment post earlier this morning.

  3. @susrin – That’s almost beyond my ability to answer – academic readings of empowerment is not what I’m considering when I chose an author to publish, or to read.

    I can say that not every story i publish has sex. Many of them are representations of affection,desire, friendship, love, etc without physical intimacy – as I put it, my books are about “lesbian life and love.” You’ll notice that the word sex is not include – lesbian lives are more than just romance and sex. I write a story called “Playing House” for one Volume just to show those moments where love is manifested as going shopping for appliances together.

    While I seek to promote female and queer artists, in no way do I discriminate against straight or male artists – our books have stories by all of the above. I meant it – if the story is good, that’s all that counts.

    I’m boggled at the concept that sex is theorized as inherently violent for women and I can only feel very bad for the people who came up with that. Clearly, they had some pretty dreadful experiences. No one I know who actually likes the person they sleep with would agree.

    I hope that helps, but again, your professor is thinking in a way that, honestly, manga is not meant to be thought about in. It is, ultimately, for fun. The only think we’re trying to do, is bring stories that people want to read to people who want to read them.

  4. susurin says:

    Thank you so much for answering my questions!! :D

  5. @susurin – Sorry for all the typos. I was typing in the dark, before I had my coffee… But I’m glad you felt I answered your questions. I did my best. :-)

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