Professor Davis traveled to Japan to, in part, learn from the top manga universities to help our classes improve at Carolina
In July 2015, Professor Davis was very fortunate to be invited to Kyoto Seika University's world-class manga program to present his research, and Osaka Arts University, where he learned some of OAU’s advanced manga teaching methods. And at Kyoto Seika University, he was invited to present his book’s research in Associate Professor Mariko Koizumi's classroom. At both of these foremost manga programs the manga students are taught by seasoned professionals. Editors from the top publishers as well as famous mangaka (manga creators) guest speak/teach regularly there. Davis was able to meet with the world class faculty and administrators at both universities.
Prof. Davis also conducted research at the Kyoto International Manga Museum, where over 300,000 volumes of manga are archived, along with a research center. The museum is housed in a former school, and funded by the city of Kyoto and Kyoto Seika University. Davis was treated to a tour and a demonstration by the late master of the form Yassan, of Kami-shibai (“Paper Theaters” or “Paper Drama”) an early 20th century form of entertainment that was a predecessor of manga. In this medium, a performer would display ornately drawn picture boards inserted in sequence in a frame as he narrated; he traveled between performance locations on a bicycle, onto which he would attach the frame containing the picture boards. This model is now being used as an experiment to record voice acting from our Theater School students onto some of the manga at wemakemanga.com, a project that originated when USC President Pastides introduced Davis and theater Professor Tobolski and asked them to work together.
In Tokyo, Prof. Davis did research at the Tokyo National Museum on Japanese woodblock prints called Ukiyo-e. These predecessors of manga depicted the
Floating World culture that began in the red-light district of Edo (now modern Tokyo). The “Floating World” was a celebration of the fleeting nature of life and youth before the onset of decay and death as sometimes symbolized by the cherry blossom’s brief flowering and rapid disappearance. The “Floating World” culture also appeared in other cities such as Kyoto and Osaka. Included in its subject matter were the brothels, Kabuki theaters, and teahouses that were frequented by the expanding middle class. Geisha, Kabuki actors, samurai, and nature were often the subjects of these mass-produced woodblock prints. You can read more about this in Davis’s book, or in Frederik L Schodt’s classic masterpiece Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics.
Much of the purpose of this research is to bring the knowledge back to our students at Carolina/SVAD/Media Arts. So that we can increase the quality of our work and create careers.
Prof. Davis was also extremely fortunate to meet Kazuo Koike the famous writer of the classic wandering-samurai Lone Wolf and Cub and Lady Snowblood manga, both were adapted into classic movie series, the latter was the basis of Kill Bill, at Osaka Arts University.
December 3, 2015
Media Arts/SVAD sponsored guest Speaker Legendary Comics Vice President and veteran graphic novel writer and manga industry exec. Robert Napton answered q and a and spoke via skype at the Russell House movie theater,
Robert Napton is an American graphic novel writer as well as a former long-time employee at Bandai Entertainment, which, along with Sunrise, distributed the massively successful Gundam and Cowboy Beebop anime franchises in America. Currently Vice President and Editorial Director of Legendary Comics (Legendary Entertainment is the company that produced Pacific Rim and the modern Hollywood hit version of Godzilla and its sequels), Napton story-edited Godzilla’s graphic novel prequel. He spoke about what it takes to be successful in the graphic novel/manga and comics industries and answer questions via video skype.
Media Arts/SVAD sponsored guest Speaker Brook Driver also spoke the Russell House movie theater:
A recent graduate of Prof Davis’s Advanced Screenwriting and TV Writing classes, as previously noted, he sold an option to his feature screenplay to a Harry Potter producer. Brook talked about what it takes to break into the international film industry as a screenwriter. As also noted earlier, Brook also has top agency representation. He answered questions via skype and did so again in fall of 2016 for Prof. Davis's Advanced Screenwriting class.
Below, some of Professor Davis’s other recent appearances speaking at the Anime Expo Anime and Manga Studies Symposium, in Los Angeles where Carolina students previously have also traveled to, including presenting papers and interfaced with manga publishing executives (Ashley Poston, Keyes and Mike Hughes). As noted, more are traveling there to present at the academic symposium summer 2016.
Above, presenting his research for the new book at the annual four-day Anime and Manga Studies Symposium at Anime Expo, held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, July 4, 2014. Over 80,000 people attended Anime Expo out of 220,000 total turnstile visitors, which was a 30% increase from the year before. Attendance increased again when Davis spoke there in 2015, to 260,700 turnstile and a new record of 90,500 attendees for the peak day, as well as bidding wars that erupted over USA anime distribution rights, all indicating a sustained upswing in manga/anime popularity in the United States. Photo: Aldo Sarellano.
Below, one of the panels Prof. Davis organized to discuss the topic of his book at Anime Expo with Sunrise (as previously noted, the large anime studio that produces Gundam and Cowboy Beebop) executive Nobuo Masuda and Ken Tsumura, a producer of the Astro Boy adaptation, both are interviewed in Davis’s book. Photo: Burt Le.
Below are notable visitors from Japan and Anime Producer Sunrise at our manga class:
Back row, right to left are Professor Nobuaki Hosoda of Osaka Arts University’s Character Creative Arts Department, and Nobuo Masuda, consultant and point man for Sunrise’s Hollywood movie deals, who both visited here, observing Davis’s manga class in 2013. Successful mangaka teach at OAU including Kazuo Koike (as noted the writer of the famous manga Lone Wolf and Cub and several other classics), who lectured about manga story/script-writing on the day Davis visited OAU) and major manga publishers’ editors have visited there. Our students loved the opportunity for his professional feedback. Left back row, Davis’s book’s lead research assistant Austa Joye, a talented aspiring mangaka lauded by Professor Hosoda for her storytelling transitions (tempo)—see her various manga, including hybrid Cartoon Network style Pastel White, at Wemakemanga. Photo: James Henderson.
Below, Carolina students have traveled to present their papers at Anime EXPO's Academic Symposium in Los Angeles with Professor Davis, including Ashley Poston and Keyes. Mike Hughes also showed off his revisions of the WeMakeManga website there.
Above, a previous appearance of the wemakemanga group at Anime Expo, featuring previous wemakemanga webmaster Mike Hughes, who is on the far end to Prof. Davis’s right, American manga editor Lilian Diaz-Przybyl (second from far right) and Robert Napton (far right) who is interviewed in Davis’s book. Also pictured is American manga creator Tania Del Rio. On the screen projected behind the panel is manga class graduate Paul Choate’s Project Alpha (also at Wemakemanga). The hope is that these traveling students make career connections and further their skills by meeting publishers, artists, mangaka, executives and others. Photo: Bert Le.
Previously, Prof. Davis was on a panel with fine artist and illustrator Yoshitaka Amono (Final Fantasy, Vampire Hunter D) at the grand opening of the (Viz New People Cultural Center in downtown San Francisco in front of a large outdoor crowd and members of the world press. Top Viz (the largest USA based manga publisher, co-owned by Shueisha) executive Manami Iiboshi called Davis's students’ manga work “excellent” in a letter sent after his appearance with Amono. Iiboshi added: “We selected Northrop to share the panel with Amono because he is an expert who is at the intersection of Japanese manga/anime and television with Hollywood and is a professor teaching original English manga (OEL) at a major university…As a professor at the University of South Carolina, Northrop’s role as keynote panelist at the grand opening of this center brings his university into the forefront of visibility in the Japanese art, manga/anime, entertainment worlds.”
Here's Prof. Davis's first article about Hollywood manga and anime adaptations. And another of his early articles about the business and creative processes involved in Hollywood manga/anime adaptations.
We Make Manga student group is formed:
Wemakemanga Productions was approved by the University of South Carolina for student-club status through the efforts of first WMM Club president Tyler Cheney. Prof. Davis was, beginning at its inception, the group’s faculty advisor and in 2019 was joined in that role by Stephanie McFerrin, who previously took the manga class. Prof. Davis has also been the faculty advisor for Club N.A.S.H.I., the university’s anime club for many years. The new Wemakemanga.com club President for 2020 is John Barnett, who succeeds Joe Legette (Benjamin Greene served before Joe). Vice President Brice Trammell will begin serving as president in January 2021, and will perform an exciting site update which will allow us to upload the last several years of mangas from the manga classes, and expand the blog to include the making of
The Hole manga project, other of Professor Davis's articles and more!. And we all are deeply grateful to Skylar Smith and his fellow previous webmasters Mike Hughes, Noel Rodgers, Cecil Decker, Andrew Zah (who created the wmm blog) and graduated Art Studio major and professional designer Marlowe Leverette, who created the WMM logo. Marlowe's student manga Motherbot Connection can be seen on the site here.
Manga class and Wemakemanga.com student group members presented their creative work, teaching methods and plans for the class/website at Nashi Con, which is a successful offshoot of the aforementioned USC student anime club, Nashi in 2018 and previous years(the pandemic has made it not possible more recently).
On Sunday April 2, 2017 the USC Wemakemanga.com student club presented their plans for the website and class to the SC manga/anime community at Nashi Con at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center (Panel 3). including President Tyler Cheney, VP Kyle Stephenson and Prof. Davis. The Nashi Con group are USC students and alum who have created their own annual manga/anime convention, Nashi Con, each spring that has grown so large it has moved out of Russell House, which it outgrew, to the Convention Center.
On Saturday, August 26th, 2017 Northrop Davis and students from the Mart 521c Art and Business of Manga and Anime class and Wemakemanga.com club members presented their work at Soda City Con at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Prof. Davis also spoke about the tidal wave of action in Hollywood currently regarding manga and anime and his internationally recognized manga production class, the Wemakemanga website and USC student club.
New informal USC Screen and TV screenwriting group is formed:
Tandria Fireall, Christine Shestko and Diana Barahona created a new writer’s group for USC students which, after they graduated, was run ably by Cliff Johnson. This is a forum for students to critique each other’s TV pilots and screenplays or other fiction writing. Writers intending to improve their scripts should join this active group! The new head of Cocky Screenwriters is USC student Brandon Bowens! That group can meet on Discord as well as in person. Brandon's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last but not least, currently WMM is highlighting work from students in SVAD taught by other professors, that is related to manga, in this case a project with some anime style, created by Adam Brown in Catherine Chi's class, titled Sad Kiwi Animation.
CONTACTING PROFESSOR DAVIS
Media and interested students and educators can email Professor Davis at DavisNF@mailbox.sc.edu for more information on his classes, book, quotes for media, requesting him for public speaking appearances, consulting, and his upcoming manga to be published “The Hole” (volume 1 to be published by Scout Comics upcoming--more soon on it!). Professor Davis's classes- The Art and Business of Manga and Anime (MART 521C) and Advanced Screenwriting (MART 521A) take place each fall semester, In spring, he teaches TV Writing (MART 521D) and one section of MART 321 (Beginning Screenwriting/ Global Storytelling). All are offered in the Media Arts (MART) area of the School of Visual Art and Design (SVAD) at the University of South Carolina's Columbia main campus, plus sometimes he teaches Honors College TV writing. There are also plans to take students to Japan to the manga and anime industry for a Maymester course in 2022 if he is available to do that. Are you interested in becoming a Media Arts major, minor or taking our classes? If so, please see: http://www.sc.edu/study/majors_and_degrees/media_arts.php. For a full list of other classes in SVAD, including recommended classes like figure drawing, color theory, which are ideal, but not required before taking Professor Davis's
Manga and Anime (MART 521C) class, please contact Undergraduate Student Services Coordinator Rebecca Boyd at BOYDRR@mailbox.sc.edu.