Hülsmann, Katharina: "Controlling the spreadability of the Japanese fan comic. Protective practices in the dōjinshi community." In: Participations 17.2 (2020), S. 274–302, <https://www.participati ... e%2017/Issue%202/14.pdf>.
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|Resource type: Web Article
BibTeX citation key: 2020f
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Keywords: Distribution, Fandom, Japan, Manga
|Attachments||URLs https://www.partic ... 7/Issue%202/14.pdf|
This article examines the practices of Japanese fan artists to navigate the visibility of their own works within the infrastructure of dōjinshi (amateur comic) culture and their effects on the potential spreadability of this form of fan comic in a transcultural context. Beyond the vast market for commercially published graphic narratives (manga) in Japan lies a still expanding and particularizing market for amateur publications, which are primarily exchanged in printed form at specialized events and not digitally over the internet.
Most of the works exchanged at these gatherings make use of scenarios and characters from commercially published media, such as manga, anime, games, movies or television series, and can be classified as fan works, poaching from media franchises and offering a vehicle for creative expression. The fan artists publish their works by making use of the infrastructure provided by specialized events, bookstores and online printing services (as described in detail by Noppe 2014), without the involvement of a publishing company and without the consent of copyright holders. In turn, this puts the artists at risk of legal action, especially when their works are referring to the content owned by notoriously strict copyright holders such as The Walt Disney Company, which has acquired Marvel Comics a decade ago.
Based on an ethnographic case study of Japanese fan artists who create fan works of western source materials (the most popular during the observed timeframe being The Marvel Cinematic Universe), the article identifies different tactics used by dōjinshi artists to ensure their works achieve a high degree of visibility amongst their target audience of other fans and avoid attracting the attention of casual audiences or copyright holders. These navigation tactics serve the purpose to curb visibility to non-fannish audiences, but they also serve as markers of cultural capital within the community, achieved by members who abide by the rules.
Finally, the physicality of the Japanese fan comic in its printed form and the attendance of in-person events are the most important factors helping artists to control the visibility of their fan works. Dōjinshi events are perceived as safe spaces of like-minded people, and the face to face interaction creates a sense of control for artists concerning who is reading their comics. At the same time, these navigation tactics help avoid a global spread of Japanese fan works.
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