Discover the secrets of UK Anime and Manga Fanzines

Anime and manga scholar Helen McCarthy will lead a free online discussion on UK Anime and Manga Fanzines next month, organised by the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures.

Cover of Mektek. Cover art © Steve Kyte
Cover of Mektek #1 Cover art © Steve Kyte

In the days before broadband, fanzines and fanzine culture were a vital part of British cultural experiences from football to punk music. The emerging anime subculture was no different. Starting with a one-shot zine, moving on to articles and imagery in gaming and modelling fanzines, and gradually gaining traction as professional anime and manga magazines began to appear, fanzines formed a vital part of communication between fans. They were supplemented and supported by fan club newsletter. This revolution was most definitely not televised; instead, it was painstakingly typed, illustrated, pasted up, photocopied and sent through the post to a small but passionate number of eager readers.

Most of that culture has not been preserved or archived in any formal sense. Any surviving physical incarnations are mouldering away in boxes in attics and garages. But its other incarnations, the passion and energy of the fans who created those fragile pages, still live on. Those fans have gone on to become writers, artists, designers, academics, business owners, parents, filling many niches in 21st century life with the punk energy of fanzine creation. Helen McCarthy gives a brief outline of the genesis, history and demise of the British anime fanzine, a suitable case for further exploration.

Helen McCarthy

Helen McCarthy is an independent scholar interested in anime, manga and the history of costume. She wrote the first book in English on anime, the first book in English on a single anime auteur, and co-founded and edited the first professional anime magazine in Britain, Anime UK Magazine, which ran from 1991 to 1996 and sold worldwide, including in Japan.
She has written 13 books which have been widely translated, including the Harvey Award-winning The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, The Anime Encyclopedia (with Jonathan Clements) and A Brief History of Manga. She co-edited Leiji Matsumoto: Essays on the Manga and Anime Legend, published by McFarland in 2020. Her latest work on cosplay history has just appeared in The Phoenix Papers, the journal of the Fandom and NeoMedia Studies conference (FANS.) She is currently writing a paper on colour and decoration as status indicators in the TV series Bridgerton. She lives in London and does not believe it is possible to have too many books.

The Third Thursday Lecture series is funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Yakult UK.

• Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures – UK Anime and Manga Fanzines 1985-2000 Third Thursday Lecture with independent scholar and author Helen McCarthy
6.00pm – 7.00pm Thursday 15 September, 2022 | Online lecture, via Zoom (50 minute lecture followed by Q&A) – Free and open to all, booking essential here

Helen McCarthy is online at | Twitter

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.

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