Fans of Japanese entertainment are in for a treat at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum’s upcoming event.
Japanese comic books are set to be on display for the public to peruse at the Rare Manga Collection Open House. Only a small portion of the museum’s 20,000 manga materials will be at the open house, but all students have access to the large collection, said Maureen Donovan, a Japanese studies librarian at Ohio State.
Donovan said she began collecting manga for the university in the mid-1980s and has a collection that is still growing.
The manga that is set be on display come from a wide time-range, and Donovan said the earliest manga served a different purpose than the manga of today.
“The manga that you may be familiar with, the translated versions you may have seen in high school, this isn’t all that you’ll be seeing,” Donovan said. For modern fans, “(the manga collection) serves as a pre-history of what they’re more familiar with.”
Modern examples of manga, such as recent copies of the Shonen Jump and Hana to Yume manga magazines, will be available to look at, but most of the pieces will be from the early and mid-1900s. A reproduction of a 12th century scroll will also be among the relics.
Students might notice how manga from the early 1900s look similar to Sunday newspaper comics because manga from that era, called jiji manga, started to reflect the social issues of Japan, Donovan said.
“Jiji manga was a supplement to newspapers during that time,” Donovan said. “These weren’t story manga the way they are now.”
Manga from the World War II-era featured caricatures of public figures, such as Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi, as well as illustrations street vendors used to entertain children.
Works by Osamu Tezuka, usually referred to as the “God of Manga,” will be at the open house, including several volumes of his most famous manga “Astro Boy,” which follows the adventures of a robot built with the memories of his creator’s deceased son.
The open house serves as a quick look into the history of manga and as a reminder to students that they can access the cartoon and manga archives throughout the year, Donovan said.
“You first have to fill a registration form out (at the archives),” she said. “Then you can come back, look up on the computer and request the titles you want to look at.”
Donovan said that for the past two years, manga published after 1990 have been moved into the circulating collection, so students can check out those titles through the library’s website.
“Most of them are in Japanese, but some are in English,” Donovan said. “Anyone who wants to read manga can use the library catalog. There’s a lot available for them.”
Caitlin McGurk, a project coordinator in special collections and area studies, said the comic and art collection at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum is the largest in the United States, boasting more than 3 million pieces.
“We are by far the largest in the U.S.,” she said. “We work like a rare books reading room, so it just means that things can’t circulate outside of our building and that people can’t just wander through the stacks and look around. But they can request whatever they want and we’ll bring it out.”
Mike Horvat, a third-year in Japanese and president of the Manga Student Association, said he is excited about the open house because of the impact manga has had on his life.
“My very first introduction came through the animated equivalent, which is anime,” he said. “As a child, I was very fond of ‘Dragon Ball Z.’”
Already a fan of comics, Horvat stumbled upon manga while searching for comics at a library and found an interest in shonen, a genre primarily focused on young boys with action, violence and “save the world, get the girl” themes, Horvat said.
The collections found at the open house will pale in comparison to a larger manga showcase the museum will be hosting next year, Donovan said.
“We’re going to be having a big exhibit of shojo manga coming up in the spring, starting at the end of March and going to July,” she said. Shojo is a genre that is primarily focused on young female audiences and themes surrounding romance and everyday life. The traveling manga exhibit will be hosted in the Cartoon Library and Museum’s gallery.
The Rare Manga Collection Open House is set to take place Monday from 4:30-6 p.m. in the Will Eisner Seminar Room at Sullivant Hall.
The event is free and open to the public.