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poster: Nele Noppe

[QUOTE] From Fan-Yi Lam, Comic Market: How the World’s Biggest Amateur Comic Fair Shaped Japanese Dōjinshi Culture, p243

Upon the appearance of Web 2.0 sites like YouTube or DeviantART (and especially their explicitly Japanese counterparts NicoNico Dōga and Pixiv) one might think that Comic Market as a physical and costly event would suffer from losing its monopoly on being the center of Japanese fan art. But once again Comike was the beneficiary of a new fan praxis: attendance reached new heights in 2007 (well over 500,000 people), a year without any outstandingly popular property to attract new visitors. It seems that dōjinshi circles are not switching entirely to the Internet but rather are using it as an informational and marketing platform for themselves and their creations, spreading the knowledge of and fascination with Comic Market to new spheres. The best example of this phenomenon is the already-mentioned Tōhō Project, which became popular mostly through Web 2.0 outlets.

Fan-Yi Lam, Comic Market: How the World’s Biggest Amateur Comic Fair Shaped Japanese Dōjinshi Culture, p243

[QUOTE] From Salil K. Mehra, Copyright and Comics in Japan: Does Law Explain Why All the Cartoons My Kid Watches Are Japanese Imports? p54-55

Perhaps most notably, by offering works that arguably “push the envelope” more than the works of the formal manga industry, dōjinshi may produce examples of innovation that create new opportunities for the entire industry. Indeed, mainstream manga publishing companies have in the past brought the styles and ideas of “hot” subcultures into their own product lines. New genres fostered by the dōjinshi markets– genres that are often quite risqué – have been at times been adopted by mainstream commercial manga publishers. (Examples of such genres include lolicom (sic) and yaoi.)

Salil K. Mehra, Copyright and Comics in Japan: Does Law Explain Why All the Cartoons My Kid Watches Are Japanese Imports? p54-55

[QUOTE] From Mizuko Ito, Fandom Unbound, loc. 246-63

Even as otaku culture is recuperated by elites and the mainstream, and as the terms “anime” and “manga” have become part of a common international lexicon, otaku culture and practice have retained their subcultural credibility. In Japan, much of manga and anime is associated with mainstream consumption; otaku must therefore differentiate themselves from ippanjin (regular people) through a proliferating set of niche genres, alternative readings, and derivative works. In the United States, the subcultural cred of anime and manga is buttressed by their status as foreign “cult media.” This stance of U.S. fans is not grounded, however, in a simplistic exoticism. Susan Napier suggests that “rather than the traditional Orientalist construction of the West empowering itself by oppressing or patronizing the Eastern Other, these fans gain agency through discovering and then identifying with a society that they clearly recognize as having both universal and culturally specific aspects” (Napier 2007, 189). She describes how U.S. fans most often explain their interests in terms of the works’ “thematic complexity and three-dimensional characterization” rather than as an interest in Japan per se (Napier 2007, 177).

Put differently, the international appeal of otaku culture is grounded precisely in its ability to resist totalizing global narratives such as nationalism. The long-running and intricate narrative forms of popular Japanese media represent a platform or, in Hiroki Azuma’s terms, a database of referents that are highly amenable to recombination and customization by fans and gamers (see Chapter 2). We can see this in the stunning diversity of doujinshi derived from the same manga series (see Chapters 5 and 9) and in the activities of young Pokémon or Yu-Gi-Oh! card game players who design their own decks out of the nearly infinite set of possibilities on offer through a growing pantheon of monsters (Buckingham and Sefton-Green 2004; Ito 2007; Sefton-Green 2004; Willett 2004). While certain female fans might look to Gundam for source material to tell stories of erotic trysts between the male characters, other fans geek out over building and customizing models of the giant robots.

Mizuko Ito, Fandom Unbound, loc. 246-63

[QUOTE] From Casey Fiesler, Everything I Need To Know I Learned from Fandom: How Existing Social Norms Can Help Shape the Next Generation of User-Generated Content, p173

The idea of fan cultures, or “fandoms,” cultivating fan fiction writers began at the earliest in the 1920s with societies dedicated to Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes, but took off in the late 1960s with the advent of Star Trek fanzines. The negative stereotype of“fans today is that of obsessed geeks, like “Trekkies, who love nothing more than to watch the same installments over and over…” However, this represents a core misunderstanding of what it is to be a fan: that is, to have the“ability to transform personal reaction into social interaction, spectatorial culture into participatory culture… not by being a regular viewer of a particular program but by translating that viewing into some kind of cultural activity.” Henry Jenkins, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and expert on fan culture, likens fan fiction to the story of The Velveteen Rabbit: that the investment in something is what gives it a meaning rather than any intrinsic merits or economic value. For fans who invest in a television show, book, or movie, that investment sparks production, and reading or viewing sparks writing, until the two are inseparable. They are not watching the same thing over and over, but rather are creating something new instead.

Casey Fiesler, Everything I Need To Know I Learned from Fandom: How Existing Social Norms Can Help Shape the Next Generation of User-Generated Content, p735

Update: Now with link to an open access version of the paper and correct page, apologies for the typo.

[QUOTE] From Anna von Veh, Kindle Worlds: Bringing Fanfiction Into Line But Not Online?

So if being online is so important to fanfiction, why has Amazon not adopted this central mechanism which could have drawn millions of views to its own online site? One reason may simply be that they are relying on sites like Wattpad to generate the traffic to Kindle Worlds. The other may have to do with content control. The plural “Worlds” in Kindle Worlds marks a clear separation between the different fanbases; there will be no boundary crossing here. For fanfiction, boundary crossing of various types is the point. Trying to constrain the unconstrainable is an inherent paradox in a model based on content control. Of course, one way to attempt to control content/text is to contain it in a book rather than have it online where control is always subject to slippage. However, the existence of Fanfiction itself undermines this attempt. Amazon and the licensors have a difficult balancing act. Most licensors would want to retain control over the content that appears online and therefore restrict official content, whether it be original or fan-generated, to their own fan sites; it might indeed be very difficult to keep the licensed Worlds separate in one online environment. So one could argue that the “form” of the ebook in this case, where online would normally be the “native” medium, answers primarily the needs of the licensors rather than those of the fans and readers. This is not to say that Kindle Worlds shouldn’t have ebooks; even in the fanfiction communities, people create ebooks of fanfics for free download. It is the fact that Kindle Worlds appears to be only about ebooks that is the issue in the context of fanfiction. Anna von Veh, Kindle Worlds: Bringing Fanfiction Into Line But Not Online?

[QUOTE] From Jonathan Gray, Show Sold Separately, location 944

Annette Kuhn’s work with “enduring fans” of 1930s films is illustrative. Kuhn interviewed numerous women in their seventies who still enjoyed watching and talking about the films and stars of their twenties, and who still found new meanings in them. She argues, “For the enduring fan, the cinema-going past is no foreign country but something continuously reproduced as a vital aspect of daily life in the present.” As these women grew older, watched different films, and gained new experiences, they were able to return to their beloved texts with new interpretive strategies or nuances, hence keeping the texts alive and active for decades. “As the text is appropriated and used by enduring fans, further layers of inter-textual and extra-textual memory-meaning continuously accrue.”

Jonathan Gray, Show Sold Separately, location 944

[QUOTE] From Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, Joshua Green. Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture

(…) fans who create new material or pass along existing media content ultimately want to communicate something about themselves. Fans may seek to demonstrate their own technical prowess, to gain greater standing within a niche community, to speculate about future developments, or to make new arguments using texts already familiar to their own audiences. As the Mad Men Twitter example proves, content often gains traction when people are given the latitude to use “official” media texts to communicate something about themselves.

Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, Joshua Green. Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture

[QUOTE] From Fan-Yi Lam, Comic Market: How the World’s Biggest Amateur Comic Fair Shaped Japanese Dōjinshi Culture, p244-245

Though its most important function is still to provide a physical place, Comic Market has also become a symbol of the otaku and dōjinshi communities. It is not only by a wide margin the biggest dōjinshi event in Japan (and therefore related to many subcultural and independent media in Japan), it is also the oldest such event, and the one most famous in the mass media. As the center of attention, with its size and its links to the industry, it is undeniable that Comike possesses the power and the means to influence social, market, and even political developments. In recent years it has not been reluctant to use this power. Whether through conferences on copyright issues or on the establishment of a “National dōjinshi fair liaison group” (Zenkoku dōjinshi sokubaikai renrakukai) in 2000, it has taken on the responsibility of representing and of regulating Japanese dōjinshi culture.

Fan-Yi Lam, Comic Market: How the World’s Biggest Amateur Comic Fair Shaped Japanese Dōjinshi Culture, p244-245

[QUOTE] From Frank Rose, The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories, location 2324

Far from giving the audience a role in the storytelling, the participatory aspect of Lost was actually a result of its creators’ strict control. Viewers were ambivalent about the role they wanted to take. One of the most persistent questions the producers got was, how much of this has been plotted out in advance? “The fans want the story to be completely planned out by us,” said Lindelof, “and they also want to have a say. Those two are mutually exclusive.

Frank Rose, The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories, location 2324

[QUOTE] From Casey Fiesler, Everything I Need To Know I Learned from Fandom: How Existing Social Norms Can Help Shape the Next Generation of User-Generated Content, pp730-731.

When writer Lori Jareo self-published her novel Another Hope and listed it on (Amazon), she expected only her family and friends to see the page and consider purchasing a copy. However, the novel also attracted a great deal of unwanted attention: from mocking bloggers, outraged fans, and Lucasfilms’ lawyers. Another Hope was not a wholly original work, but rather an unauthorized Star Wars “fan fiction” novel: a story using characters and settings from Star Wars without the consent of Lucasfilms, which owns the copyright to the Star Wars universe.

Lucasfilms’ lawyers sent a cease-and-desist notice to Jareo, who then removed the book’s listing from Amazon. While that was the only legal consequence of Jareo’s obvious copyright infringement, the punishment that she received from the public was much more severe. When several well-known science fiction writers and bloggers latched onto the story, they all had strong negative opinions of Jareo’s actions. In April 2006, the story hit dozens of popular blogs, inspiring such mockingly clever titles as “The Stupid is Strong with this One,” and “I Bet She Finds Our Lack of Faith Disturbing.”

Were it not for the Internet publicity concerning the Amazon listing, Lucasfilms may not have ever noticed it. In fact, the book was published nearly a year before the scandal erupted. It was not intellectual property lawyers or the copyright holder that condemned Jareo; rather, it was her fellow fan fiction writers. Jareo broke a major rule when she tried to profit from her fan fiction, and other fans were there to point out her mistake—not only for the faux pas in the fan community but also for the potential attention she brought to the world of fan fiction, a world in which copyright law is largely untested.

Casey Fiesler, Everything I Need To Know I Learned from Fandom: How Existing Social Norms Can Help Shape the Next Generation of User-Generated Content, pp730-731.

[META] Anime gets its own Veronica Mars Kickstarter: overseas fans raise $150.000 in 5 hours for ‘Little Witch Academia’

As reported by Anime News Network and others, Japanese animation studio TRIGGER’s Kickstarter campaign to make a sequel episode to their Little Witch Academia OAV met its goal of $150.000 in less than five hours. The Kickstarter is at $285.000 right now, with a whopping 28 days still left to go.

In the Kickstarter video, TRIGGER co-founder Masahiko Otsuka explains that after the studio uploaded the single-episode anime on YouTube, they got an unexpected flood of comments from overseas fans, many urging them to hold a Kickstarter campaign so they could make more episodes. TRIGGER looked into this Kickstarter thing and decided to give it a go.

TRIGGER was only asking for $150.000 to make one episode, not 2 million like the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter. I think it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to compare the potential effect of the Little Witch Academia campaign on that other now justifiably famous and much-discussed fan funding success, though. TRIGGER has raised almost twice what they asked for already, and the Kickstarter isn’t nearly done.

On the English-speaking part of the Internet, where the concept of using Kickstarter to raise money for creative projects is already very familiar in and of itself, The Veronica Mars campaign fueled a lot of talk about the ethics of pro creators asking fans for money (for a product that they will end up paying for again once it’s ready for sale). I reckon that the discussions surrounding the Little Witch Academia campaign will be more about how Kickstarter could enable overseas fans to support the Japanese anime industry. Overseas fans not only motivated TRIGGER to start the Kickstarter in the first place; they were probably also largely responsible for its smashing success. It sounds like Japanese fans can also participate in Kickstarter campaigns via their Amazon accounts, so there’s no way to tell for sure how many of the people who participated in the Kickstarter were non-Japanese fans, but the comment section seems to be almost entirely in English.

In the video, TRIGGER’s Otsuka urges other Japanese creators to consider Kickstarter as a way to raise funds for projects among overseas fans. I wonder if any anime studios, game studios, or other individuals or companies will follow TRIGGER’s lead soon. Fan funding in and of itself isn’t a new thing in Japan, of course; Ken Akamatsu’s J-Comi, for instance, regularly holds very successful “fanding” FANディング campaigns to raise money to re-issue out-of-print manga, special sets of manga that include material previously issued only in dojinshi, and so on. These campaigns are aimed at Japanese fans, though. I don’t remember any examples of Japanese creators aiming directly for overseas fans with a fan funding campaign. The success of the Little Witch Academia campaign should certainly give ideas to other studios.

(On a totally different note, I’m no doubt the millionth person to mention this, but could anyone point me to a discussion of how Little Witch Academia is a cross between maho shojo and Harry Potter? There’s a lot of meta in there. Here is TRIGGER’s YouTube upload.)

[QUOTE] From Frank Rose, The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories

In Dickens’s own time, however, serialized novels were hugely controversial. Novels themselves were only beginning to find acceptance in polite society; for upper-class commentators, serialization was entirely too much. From our perspective, Dickens is a literary master, an icon of a now threatened culture. From theirs, he represented the threat of something coming.


Worse, the format seemed dangerously immersive. In 1845, a critic for the patrician North British Review decried it as an unhealthy alternative to conversation or to games like cricket or backgammon. Anticipating Huxley and Bradbury by a century, he railed against the multiplying effects of serialization on the already hallucinatory powers of the novel.


Toward the end of the nineteenth century, as further advances in technology continued to bring down the costs of printing and distribution, books and periodicals evolved into separate businesses and book publishers gradually moved away from serialization. The threat of immersiveness moved with them, first to motion pictures, then to television. Books, movies, TV—all were mass media, and mass media had no mechanism for audience participation. But the reader’s impulse to have a voice in the story didn’t vanish. It went underground and took a new form: fan fiction.

Frank Rose, The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories, location 1308-1321

[QUOTE] From tishaturk, fandom: best vs. favorite

One of the things I love about fandom is that fandom, for the most part, operates not on a “these are the best things” model (where the criteria for “best” are typically undefined yet implied to be shared by all right-thinking people) but on a “these are my favorite things” model, which can be frustrating but is also wonderfully democratic.

[QUOTE] From Catherine Coker, Earth 616, Earth 1610, Earth 3490—Wait, what universe is this again? The creation and evolution of the Avengers and Captain America/Iron Man fandom

The relationship between slash fan fiction and comics fandom is problematic not only because of the shift of medium from source text to fan text but also because of the shift of fan community. Comics fandom is often viewed as consisting of heterosexual white men and comics are often explicitly marketed to them, excluding and othering the rest of the audience. Comics fandom online subverts this expectation of audience because the majority of fan authors and creators are women. While canon plots privilege action and conflict, and the problematic depiction of women characters in them is so obvious it hardly need be discussed, comics fan fiction reverses these trends: stories privilege emotional arcs, and female characters are depicted as more recognizably human even when they are secondary to the male characters.

Comics fan works thus become completely transformative because of the shift in both fan space and fan audience: texts that are homophobic become homophiliac, authors and readers who are male become female, and that which had previously been other becomes the new norm. For these reasons, the fans are not just aware but indeed hyperaware of their own identity as subaltern and subversive practitioners.

Catherine Coker, Earth 616, Earth 1610, Earth 3490—Wait, what universe is this again? The creation and evolution of the Avengers and Captain America/Iron Man fandom

[QUOTE] From Suzanne Scott, Fangirls in refrigerators: The politics of (in)visibility in comic book culture

Fan conventions have historically been characterized as safe, even utopian spaces in which differences are embraced. My work on the Twilight protests at San Diego Comic-Con 2009 (Scott 2011), the recent sexual harassment debacle at Readercon 23 (Colby et al. 2012), and comic book artist Tony Harris’s November 2012 Facebook screed against “COSPLAY-Chiks [sic]” who “DONT [sic] KNOW SHIT ABOUT COMICS” (Dickens 2012), all indicate that these utopian characterizations of comic book conventions belie how gendered subcultural tensions manifest in these spaces. Specifically, the hostility directed at the Batgirl of San Diego from fans and publishers alike suggests a sort of panopti(comic)con, in which fan expression is increasingly policed.

Suzanne Scott, Fangirls in refrigerators: The politics of (in)visibility in comic book culture

[QUOTE] From Forrest Phillips, Captain America and fans’ political activity

When the Tea Party rose to national prominence in 2010, the movement’s cosplay of American icons, including the Founding Fathers, immediately made news (Walsh 2010). One of the most remarkable costumes worn by Tea Party demonstrators was that of the Star-Spangled Avenger. As Nicolle Lamerichs (2011) argues, when fans cosplay they are expressing their fondness for, identifying with, and making statements about the narrative associated with the character whom they are playing. The statement made by political Captain America cosplayers is that Cap would agree with their point of view. For instance, at a 2011 Tea Party rally, a man dressed as Captain America personalized his shield with a bumper sticker that read “Please don’t tell Obama what comes after a trillion” as a way to assert that his support of limited government is the sole authentic American perspective (White 2011b). Similarly, the Star-Spangled Avenger waved the star-spangled banner at a March 24, 2011, rally in opposition to the Affordable Care Act (Shelly 2012).

While in both these cases Captain America’s iconography was used to support right-wing causes, his use in political action transcends partisan boundaries just as the character does in the comics. In October 2010, the Sentinel of Liberty showed his support for “reasonableness” at Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear (Calhoun 2011). A year later he defended labor unions at a protest in Madison, Wisconsin (Mills 2011). Furthermore, Cap’s iconography has been used at multiple Occupy rallies: one protestor wore a makeshift Cap costume and flashed the peace sign while another attached a figurine of the Star-Spangled Avenger to the top of a sign bearing a handwritten anticorporate slogan (Moscamaurer 2012; jamie nyc 2011). Additionally, an activist advocating for homeless veterans addressed Occupy Oakland clad in the costume of the Sentinel of Liberty (addio33 2012).


While Captain America was first created as a fervent nationalist who wanted American children to “free our country of our traitors” (Yanes 2009, 58), he has developed into a very different character. Fans have embraced the modern incarnation of the Star-Spangled Avenger because he is one of the few embodiments of an Americanness that encompasses a wide swath of the nation’s political spectrum, from the most conservative Tea Party member to the most liberal Occupier (Johnson 2010; Mroczkowski 2011). This near-universal American appeal renders any political use of his image inherently divisive and questionable, yet makes his political appropriation irresistible.

Forrest Phillips, Captain America and fans’ political activity

[QUOTE] From Matthew J. Costello, The super politics of comic book fandom

Transformation is a political act. Whether it is slash fiction’s challenge to heteronormativity, cosplay at political rallies, or editorials that question the white male privilege of fandom, whenever fans appropriate cultural artifacts they transform them for rhetorical purposes. Fandom thus becomes the battleground through which cultural meaning is constructed and as such is always contested terrain.


[META] New issue of Transformative Works and Cultures on comics fandom

Fan studies journal Transformative Works and Cultures has published its thirteenth issue on comics fandom. Here are links to all the articles, on topics ranging from women in comics fandom to fans on 4chan to Captain America and various other Avengers-related things. Enjoy! As usual, we’ll be posting some good quotes from the articles too.


Matthew J. Costello: The super politics of comic book fandom


Suzanne Scott: Fangirls in refrigerators: The politics of (in)visibility in comic book culture


Catherine Coker: Earth 616, Earth 1610, Earth 3490—Wait, what universe is this again? The creation and evolution of the Avengers and Captain America/Iron Man fandom

Lyndsay Brown: Pornographic space-time and the potential of fantasy in comics and fan art

Tim Bavlnka: /Co/operation and /co/mmunity in /co/mics: 4chan’s Hypercrisis

Symposium (short articles):

Forrest Phillips: Captain America and fans’ political activity

Babak Zarin: The advocacy of Steve Rogers (aka Captain America), as seen in hetrez’s “Average Avengers Local Chapter 7 of New York”

Amanda Odom: Professionalism: Hyperrealism and play

Rebecca Lucy Busker: Fandom and male privilege: Seven years later

Kayley Thomas: Revisioning the smiling villain: Imagetexts and intertextual expression in representations of the filmic Loki on Tumblr

Ora C. McWilliams: Who is afraid of a black Spider(-Man)?


Matthew J. Costello: Interview with comics artist Lee Weeks

Kate Roddy, Carlen Lavigne, Suzanne Scott: Toward a feminist superhero: An interview with Will Brooker, Sarah Zaidan, and Suze Shore


Daniel Stein: “Comic books and American cultural history: An anthology,” edited by Matthew Pustz

Drew Morton: “Of comics and men: A cultural history of American comic books,” by Jean-Paul Gabilliet

[QUOTE] From Suzanne Scott, Repackaging fan culture: The regifting economy of ancillary content models

My concern, as fans and acafans continue to vigorously debate the importance or continued viability of fandom’s gift economy and focus on flagrant instances of the industry’s attempt to co-opt fandom, is that the subtler attempts to replicate fannish gift economies aren’t being met with an equivalent volume of discussion or scrutiny.

There are a number of important reasons why fandom (and those who study it) continue to construct gift and commercial models as discrete economic spheres. This strategic definition of fandom as a gift economy serves as a defensive front to impede encroaching industrial factions.


Media producers, primarily through the lure of “gifted” ancillary content aimed at fans through official Web sites, are rapidly perfecting a mixed economy that obscures its commercial imperatives through a calculated adoption of fandom’s gift economy, its sense of community, and the promise of participation.

Suzanne Scott, Repackaging fan culture: The regifting economy of ancillary content models