The Big Idea: Erica Friedman
We are all part of some sort of fandom, and some fandoms are better known than others. In By Your Side, author Erica Friedman explores a vital, but possibly lesser-known, group of fans.
Every day someone discovers a new fandom. How awesome is that?
Right away that new fan takes in all the key series to date and learns the ins and outs of the fandom – their language, their in-jokes… and, in the best fandoms, new folks are welcomed and their enthusiasm for the newest bestest thing ever rejuvenates long-time fans. New fan fic and fan art are born. As those new fans try to absorb as much as they can about this new interest, they often come across an unintentional barrier. You see, Fandom’s collective long-term memory goes back about two years, so when new fans join, sometimes they bring with them this idea that the fandom itself is only as old as their interest in it. History is rewritten every time a new series brings new fans into an existing fandom.
Why should anyone care about the history of a fandom? you may ask.
And I will reply – history is part of representation. Of course, we want to see ourselves reflected in art and entertainment but, even more importantly for those of us part of marginalized communities, we also want to know that we have always been here, and to be assured that we always will be here.
As manga sales overwhelm western comic sales, there is a groundswell of manga for audiences that haven’t previously been taken as seriously by the largest comic publishers in the west. LGBTQ+ reader may get a Pride month special now from Marvel or DC, but long-term characterization and inclusion follows more slowly. In manga, queer characters and storylines are thriving.
In By Your Side: The First 100 Year of Yuri Anime and Manga, I trace the first 100 years of a fandom you may have discovered only a few years ago, or yesterday, or maybe you haven’t discovered it yet. Lesbian-themed Japanese animation and comics, known as Yuri, is the newest genre of anime and manga. Beginning with its root in girls magazines of Japan in the early 20th century, and expanding into all of the main demographic genres of manga, Yuri has a unique history even among manga genres. I cover key series that even non-fans may be familiar with – as Sailor Moon has saturated popular culture in the US for the past 30 years as it has in Japan.
I’ve been reading, watching, writing and speaking about Yuri for 20 years – watching as fandom, creators and publishers shaped this new genre in different ways and for different reasons. My publisher, Journey Press, is steeped in the literal history of science fiction fandom. We all believe that history has meaning for all fans. Through an interlocking series of essays, lectures, overview and analysis, By Your Side captures the history of a relatively new, still-growing fandom, so that every reader of Yuri manga or watcher of Yuri anime knows that their fandom has a history and that they are part of that story…that they belong.
I hope you’ll walk by my side along our garden path as we discuss the first 100 years of Yuri and look towards the next century.