Do You Have to Be Japanese to Make Manga?

A Twitter recap of a discussion about the discontinued Mahou Shonen Breakfast Club webcomic, culture, comics, appropriation and how it affects global comics creators who are influenced by Japanese manga.

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  1. Once upon a time, there was a webcomic created by a pair of comic creators based in New Zealand. It was called Mahou Shonen Breakfast Club (Magical Boys Breakfast Club) and it debuted in mid-February 2015. By early March, the creators pulled the plug on the project.
  2. According to the webcomics' "About" page:
  3. Mahou Shounen Breakfast Club is a collaborative project between Toril Orlesky (alias Starlock) and Katie O’Neill (who goes by StrangelyKatie). It follows a group of Tokyo voice actors brought together to work on an animated show, and the relationships and production issues that ensue.
  4. ...or at least that's what I could make out of what I read of the story before the creators decided to end the series. You can read the pages that were posted here:
  5. Then O'Neill and Orlesky got complaints like this one:
  6. The complaint on this Tumblr post reads:
  7. Anonymous asked: "God damn this is why I hate it when ignorant white people like you try to make stuff about Japan just because it's trendy. Learn how to write kanji that isn't so awkward before you even think about making a story set in the place the language is from. 嫌なら自分の文化を使え それとも世界で他の文化が色々があるんだろう"
  8. O'Neill then replied:
  9. "Hey! I actually have a BA in Japanese and speak it with some fluency (though it’s been a few years since I graduated), and the kanji in the logo is based off a font I got from a Japanese website! Thanks for your concern, but if you’re basically saying that white people should only write about white people that’s kind of messed up. We’re always going to be open to criticism and concerns, so if we get something wrong let us know!"
  10. Which then lead to even more criticisms, including this one:
  11. Which lead to this announcement on March 2, barely two weeks after the debut of the webcomic:
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