EtherFuture’s initial foundation is in manga-type doujinshi (or fanzines). We’ve been aware that the term “doujinshi” isn’t just an end-all term and should be used properly. The definition that I personally have been going by is:
An amateur, self-produced work (e.g. fanzine, artbooks, games, music) distributed by the artist(s) themselves.
Though I believe that is a proper, universal definition (Wikipedia‘s first sentence is also along those lines), I came to a realization of the term’s meaning after reading a translated [sic] five-part conversation between manga artist and J-Comi founder Ken Akamatsu and manga editor, writer, and professor Kentaro Takekuma. From this, a particular portion struck me that I wanted to briefly bring to light.
Takekuma: I asked, “isn’t it a given that doujinshi will be combination books?” That’s right when I realized that all the doujinshi being sold at Comiket were by individual artists.
Akamatsu: It does seem odd to keep calling them doujinshi. After all, the word implies that like-minded (doujin, “同人”) artists gather to make a magazine (shi, “誌”).
Takekuma: Exhibitors there are called “circles,” but people doing everything by themselves. That’s why people from my generation would normally call what they’re doing kojinshi (“individual magazines”)
In short, “doujinshi” currently is applying to both a single artist self-producing their own work, and a multiple artists self-producing work together. Basically, there’s no distinction between a solo artist and multiple artists. It’s just all doujinshi to everyone.
I don’t believe this is a issue that needs to be fixed, but rather a meaningful consideration that should be made common knowledge, especially among Western fans of doujinshi (or kojinshi). Otherwise, we just take whatever the Japanese use without a second thought a la “otaku”. If we are to be diligent fans and proper consumers of this art form, we should at least be aware of the terms that are in play.
EtherFuture is a doujinshi circle by default, since 1) writing and drawing are both art and 2) we are currently a duo. We would love to have an editor and see our manga on shelves, but we also love doujinshi and the immensely talented fandom that permeates it around the world. If nothing else, we hope that both kojinshi and doujinshi circles producing stories in various media forms will become more common in the West.
Let’s work together as we continue to move forward in our mission!