The 5th Canadian Society for the Study of Comics conference was held this year from May 10th-11th at the Bloor Yorkville Marriott and the Toronto Reference Library! Thank you to the conference organizers for another great conference. For the past five years, the CSSC has been held in collaboration with the Toronto Comic Art Festival (TCAF) and it’s an exciting time for academics, creators, and fans to meet and share their work.
One of the things that I really like about this conference is the people. It’s my third time presenting at this conference and it was nice to meet new and familiar faces. It’s definitely a place where I feel safe and encouraged to test my ideas, which I use to develop into an article for publication, or incorporate as part of my thesis. This year was particularly meaningful as I got to present on a panel that I organized, but it couldn’t have happened without the contribution of Dr. Ben Whaley and PhD Candidate, Jonathan Chau.
I’ve always wanted to propose a panel on manga since while there are many fascinating discussions on Canadian and American comics (mostly in the Anglophone tradition), there are fewer presentations that address manga seriously. As a result, and by no means is this anyone’s fault, but presentations on manga tend to be grouped in the miscellaneous panel by default. Finding the right team took some time, but with the support of my allies we proposed a panel titled “Breaking the Mold: Manga & the Politics of Identity” which was accepted! For a full read of our abstracts click here.
In a nutshell, our panel examined manga (and its cultural variations) as a powerful and creative force for social and political critique. Ben began the show with Tezuka Osamu’s Gringo, exploring how the manga grapples with questions of Japanese-ness and identity. I followed with a critical discussion on the impact of the economic crisis on the formation of middle-class youth identities in Japan as a means to explore the formation of the boy criminal/detective in Ohba Tsugumi’s Death Note. Jonathan Chau shifted the discussion to matters of genre politics, investigating Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’s Red: A Haida Manga, which fuses narrative traditions and forms in developing a culturally relevant and distinct product, or as Jonathan might say, the meaning is “all in the gutter.”
What was really great about this panel presentation was the discussion that followed in the Q & A session and this can be credited to us "Avengers Prime" (I call dibs on Thor) for having interesting and strong papers! But all jokes aside, I’m grateful for my colleagues.
I look forward to the next conference, whether it continues to be held in collaboration with TCAF, or with Congress.
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