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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Manga's Global Century: A History of Japanese Comics, 1905-1989

  • Author(s): Horbinski, Andrea
  • Advisor(s): Barshay, Andrew
  • et al.
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This dissertation describes the origins and history of manga (Japanese comics) from 1905-89 as a form of sequential art which, while created in Japan in the early 20th century, was influenced by cinema and comics from abroad in addition to indigenous artistic predecessors. Manga’s history as one of the three great world sequential arts traditions is best understood by comparing manga to comics and bandes dessinées, as I do, in order to evaluate local conditions in Japan more accurately, demonstrating that different factors in each country produced different outcomes and developmental trajectories for each medium as part of the global history of the twentieth century. I consider multiple aspects of manga—its status as a form of Japanese mass media, its transnational position as one of multiple global sequential art traditions, and its distinctive history as a medium of expression in which fans and creators have at all points played equally important, and at times not easily divisible, roles—to tell the story of manga’s beginnings as it moves into its next hundred years.

In particular, I describe the history of competing publishing platforms and formats within manga’s development to demonstrate that manga became widespread in Japanese society less because of any intrinsic quality of comics than because of the affordances of the platforms and formats through which it was distributed. Transformations in platform and format were related to the expansion of audiences for manga, as what began as medium devoted to political satire for adults expanded to encompass children and then to young adults in the 1950s and 1960s. Finally, I pay due attention to the development since 1975 of manga fandom, the dôjin sphere, as an unofficial but extremely consequential site of manga production which has now come to dominate the professional manga industry, even as manga has become a subordinate component of the anime media mix.

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This item is under embargo until August 27, 2021.