Hello, I’m Helen McCarthy. You can contact me on this blog, or by emailing helenmccarthyenquiries@hotmail.com

Other Helen McCarthys are available from other providers. There are a lot of us about, including a history PhD in Cambridge, a local historian in Gloucestershire, an aboriginal artist in Australia, a Disney Imagineer in the States, a law professor in Belfast and a winemaker Down Under. But you clicked this page because you want to know more about me, not my interesting namesakes, so here’s a brief and incomplete history. (I’m a work in progress, though sometimes progress seems the wrong word … )

I write and talk about Japanese animation, comics and pop culture. If you click here  it’ll take you to a slideshow of my book covers. I also design needlework and make clothes – I’ve loved researching and re-creating historical dress since I was a little girl. I was born in a large, noisy, creative Irish immigrant family in a small town in the North of England, and educated in a convent by a wonderful and terrifying French order of nuns. My grandmother taught me to embroider when I was four years old. Then, I just loved creating beauty. Now, I see counted thread embroidery as a logical crossover point between ancient craft traditions and the mass-production aesthetic that permeates even ‘fine’ art today.

I still remember the thrill of realising that I could actually read by myself. According to my mother, that was just before my third birthday. I was about ten when I realised I could read for the rest of my life and never run out of books – a fact that continues to give me the most enormous satisfaction. I first became aware of science fiction and fantasy as distinct genres around the same time, and this eventually led me into the world of  conventions and conrunning, a much more demanding, but less irrational and more humane, form of teamworking than is generally found in business or public service.

I was a teenager when I first visited London and fell in love with the city. I now live there with my partner, an artist. We jointly maintain a home for fallen books, toys and films, and rarely turn away needy cases, even though our house (which aspires to be a shoebox when it grows up) is bursting at the seams.  Despite being within sight of the glittering towers of the financial district, we’re on the edge of a park and are regularly visited by squirrels, magpies, finches of all colours, hedgehogs, foxes and even, on one memorable occasion, a badger.

When not working, I love to read, cook, eat, talk and travel.

Now you’re here, look around. You can find out where to see me, and read about my workshops and talks, on other pages. You can buy my books here if you like, via links to Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk on the “Books & Articles” page, or in any good bookshop. I don’twant to twist your arm, but if you buy anything through these on-page links, Amazon gives me some of your money.

If you don’t want to buy, borrowing my books from your local library might earn me a payment under Public Lending Right. Every time you borrow a library book that’s in copyright, in the UK and several other countries, the author gets paid – just one of many good reasons to support your local library.

25 thoughts on “About

      • Hi Helen,
        Got the Tezuka book (hardback) via Amazon on the 31st Dec – just started reading – fascinating – it’ll go very well with my hardback edition of Christopher Finch’s “Art of Walt Disney” circa 1974 – thanks.

        Looking forward to the new Astroboy film, although early reports seem to suggest it may not live up to the original – will still see it though.

        Happy New Year.


      • Thanks, Ravi, for a really lovely review. I wish the book really was exhaustive! It may give that impression, but only because Tezuka’s back catalogue is so enormous that just talking about some of the unknown items looks impressive. I’d have liked the book to be twice as long with three times as many illos, but time and budget intervened. As it is, though, I think we did a good job in showing the English-speaking world that there’s more to Tezuka than a few translated titles – and I’m glad you agree.

  1. Dear Helen,

    I am a keen reader of your work and referred to it thoroughly when writing my dissertation at Sussex University a few years ago.

    Since then I’ve found myself working at KEO films in London, an independent television production company based in London. I’m trying to get my own documentary together and am focusing on the world of cosplay.

    As someone who knows a seemingly endless amount about Japanese popular culture and costume I was wondering if it would be possible to involve you somehow in the documentary?

    I understand you are most likely too busy, so even some handy points in the right direction would be greatly appreciated. It would be brilliant to somehow have you involved in some way though! Please do get in touch if it’s at all possible.

    Many thanks,

    Nick Blackford

    PS: If you’d like to know more about the documentary, here’s a link to a Facebook group I set up about it; http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=277458126904

    • I’d love to get involved, Nick. I’ve been into costume since I was very young and used to cosplay in SF fandom and mediaeval re-creation, so I’ve been delighted to see cosplay getting so popular in the past few years. Email follows.

  2. Pingback: London Book Fair embraces comics, sort of…… | The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log

  3. Hello Mrs. McCarthy
    I am currently doing research for a speech on Hayo Miyazaki and your book has been the key help to this project. I was wondering if I could interview you personally via email or over the phone. I’ve been a Hayo Miyasaki fan ever since I watched Castle in the Sky, (and even before that Heidi, which until recently I didnt know he animated) but it is one of my biggest dreams to form some connection to his great works, and you’re book has greatly inspired me. If you could please respond that would be highly appreciated. Thank you so much for reading!^^

  4. Hello once again. Nice to see that you are doing well. I’ll probably not be doing any personal appearances again (11th straight year) but I hope you get some travel time in. Say ‘hello’ to Steve for me. I’ll be checking back here from time to time.

    Take care…..

  5. Hello Helen.

    First off I have loved your work ever since I heard you speak at an anime convension five years ago. Your passion just blew me away and I have heard you speak twice more at other conventions.

    I was given ‘The Art of Osamu Tezuka’ last Christmas and quickly devoured it (not literally!)

    Anyway, my main reason for sending you this message was that I am in my final year of university and am doing a dissertation on graphic novels (mainly manga) and dyslexia, which I would be happy to explain in more detail. I was hoping you would be willing to do an interview with me, if not face to face then by phone.

    I understand you must be very busy but I can’t help giving this a (cheeky) go!

    If you could get back to me with a reply I would greatly appriciate it.

    Thank you,


  6. Dear Helen,

    Hope you are well. This is Alvin of HKIFF, The 35th HKIFF will do a retrospective section on Japanese puppet animation director Kawamoto Kihachiro. We are working on our catalogue, and wish to reprint an article written by you, and may need some amendments on the content.

    The catalgoue is in a tight schedule. I look forward to receviving your reply very soon.

    Thanks and all the best,

    Assistant Programme Manager
    The Hong Kong International Film Festival

    Email: alvin_tse@hkiff.org.hk

  7. Hi Helen: thank you for all that you share. I wonder if I can use some of your words to define haiku on my blog and give the reference over to your blog. thanks. sort of like re-tweeting without the tweet. take care.


    • Thanks for visiting, Meg! You can share any of my written material on this blog under the terms of the Creative Commons licence – see the “sharing” page for more information. You just need to credit as laid out there. I’d really appreciate a link back!

  8. Hello Helen,
    I am a second year student in Illustration and Animation at Kingston University, London.
    I am now conducting my dissertation under the title ‘the relationship between a successful Japanese and American animation in term of styles, concepts, and the cross cultural exports’
    I have a few questions to ask you about your opinions on Japanese and American animations. May I please have a quick interview with you via email?
    Ps. I am also going to your talk at the Barbican Centre this Thursday 23th of June.

    Many Thanks,

    Gail Piyanan

  9. Hello Helen

    I met you at the Japanese Art and Culture Festival held in Holborn back in May. I mentioned to you that I am writing a dissertation on fansubs of Japanese Anime for my Master in AudioVisual Translation. I was wondering if I can send you some questions by email so I can collect different opinions on the subject. I understand you are very busy but if you can help it would be very much appreciated.

  10. Pingback: London Book Fair embraces comics, sort of...... - Forbidden Planet Blog

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