Encounters Exhibition, Japan Media Arts Festival, Tokyu Plaza, Ginza, Tokyo, Japan
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Not a Copycat was due to be part of a symposium and exhibition on comics, activism and gender at B39, the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. McInerney was due to take part in a panel discussion at the symposium and her work was to be included in the exhibition. This was due to take place on 1st May 2020, but was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.
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Doujinshi (Japanese fan-comics) generate revenue and fan loyalty to the manga industry through de-centralised, community-based learning (Noppe, 2014; Lessig, 2000). Through investigation, McInerney discovered that there is no Western equivalent in comics practice: this includes their legal status. Whilst Japanese publishers and lawmakers alike support and protect doujinshi, in the UK and US, doujinshi/fan-comics are broadly banned and are illegal to distribute commercially (Lessig, 2000; Mehra, 2002).
Building on the work of Nele Noppe, Not A Copycat aims to assess the impact of doujinshi on the manga industry and makes a case for their potential as a learning method outside of Japan (Noppe, 2003). There is currently no commercially available graphic work which assesses the social, educational and legal effects of doujinshi. Moreover, their potential to be consciously implemented as a pedagogical method in the instruction of comic techniques, is a relatively untouched topic in the field (Noppe, 2003). By conducting direct interviews with Yamamoto Yukari of The Yoshihiro Yonezawa Memorial Doujinshi Library, and Tezuka Award-winning Mangaka, Shiriagari Kotobuki, McInerney addresses this gap in previous research, and utilises first-hand narratives, alongside existing manga research, to propose a transformative model for craft-skill acquisition in comics’ learning pedagogies.
Not A Copycat is unique in its use of Japanese visual language (Cohn, 2007) to directly manifest and investigate issues relating to the doujinshi community, paying homage to traditional techniques and processes, as a functional demonstration of the benefits of embodied learning in comics (Guth, 2010).
The Japanese Government Ministry for Cultural Affairs (Bunkacho), funded Not a Copycat, which was exhibited during the Japan Media Arts Festival 2020 in “ENCOUNTERS” at Tokyu Plaza (Ginza), Tokyo, Japan. Following this the research will next be seen at the confirmed Women in Comics exhibition and symposium at the BALTIC, Gateshead, United Kingdom (rescheduled 2021 due to Covid-19).