Helen McCarthy was first introduced to anime and manga in 1981. With no reference books in the English language on Japanese animation, she started to research an introductory guide using French, Italian, Spanish, and Asian sources. Since there was no awareness of Japanese pop culture in Britain, it took her over a decade to find a publisher for Anime! A Beginners Guide To Japanese Animation.

In 1991, still seeking a publisher, Helen co-founded the UK’s first professional anime magazine, Anime UK. The magazine won an international reputation – it was even on sale in Japan – and helped to create the market for her first book. She later edited Manga Mania magazine and has written over 100 articles for European, American, Japanese, and online publications, from Super Play magazine and Kyoto Journal to the Daily Telegraph Online. She’s delighted that other writers, designers, and artists started their professional careers on her magazines.

Since then, Helen has written a dozen more books, including works on anime and manga superstars Hayao Miyazaki, Osamu Tezuka, and Leiji Matsumoto. She is co-author of The Anime Encyclopedia, considered the pre-eminent research guide to the medium. She has also contributed to numerous academic works, and written more playful material – a manga cross-stitch guide, two how-to books on drawing, and the shortest, most picture-packed, and most colorful history of manga on the market. Her work has been published in eight languages including Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, and has won several international awards. 

After more than a decade of researching the history of cosplay from its earliest times to its explosion as a Japanese-inspired global contemporary art, Helen’s newest research interest is the history of British anime and manga fanzines. She loves their punk energy and diversity. 

She’s also been talking to audiences all over the UK about the art history of Studio Ghibli. What were the influences, were the influences, artistic, literary, industrial, political, and personal, out of which the studio’s unique style arose? Ohayocon will be the first US convention to experience this presentation.

Before the pandemic, Helen curated and presented a number of film seasons, and spoke at venues all over the world, ranging from public libraries and universities to exhibitions including the British Museum’s 2009/10 and 2015 manga exhibits and their 2019 blockbuster exhibition Manga! She loves introducing anime and manga to audiences of all ages, and during the pandemic, she presented to audiences online. She intends to continue working virtually, because it enables those who can’t be at an event to share in the excitement of anime and manga, but is delighted to be back to presenting in person.