Want to know what’s inside these Japanese comics? Excerpts begin on page 159.

Want to know what’s inside these Japanese comics? Excerpts begin on page 159.


PHOENIX (Hi no Tori) BY OSAMU TEZUKA See pages 160-187

GHOST WARRIOR (Borei Senshi from the series Senjo) BY REIJI MATSUMOTO See pages 188-214

In memoriam: Osamu Tezuka, revered by all Japanese as the “god of manga” died on the morning of February 9, 1989, at the age of 60. A remarkable art- ist, he entertained and inspired millions, and made manga a serious medium of expression, as well as a social phenomenon. His spirit, and his stories, will live forever.

Published by Kodansha USA, Inc. 451 Park Avenue South New York, NY 10016

Distributed in the United Kingdom and continental Europe by Kodansha Europe Ltd.

Copyright © 1983, 2012 by Frederik L. Schodt. All rights reserved. Printed in South Korea. ISBN: 978-1-56836-476-6 LCC 82-48785

First edition published in Japan in 1983 by Kodansha International First Paperback edition 1986 published in Japan by Kodansha International First US edition 2012 by Kodansha USA


THE ROSE (Berusaiyu no Barijjl BY RIYOKO See pages 215-237

19 18 17 16 15 14 7 6 5 4 3

BAREFOOT GEN (Hadashi no Gen) BY KEIJI NAKAZAWA See pages 238-256

iG A! in 1997

Books, like buildings, are assembled from bits and pieces into a hope-fully coherent structure. If the original design is successful, bothmay last a long time and prove useful to many people. Ideally, they will also retain a special currency in the midst of changing fashions.

Whether Manga! Manga!: The World of Japanese Comics has achieved this exalted status is arguable, but the signs are good. It got off to a good start when first published in 1983, receiving excellent reviews and that year’s “Special Award” in the Japan Cartoonists Association’s “Manga Oscars.” Nearly fifteen years later, much to my surprise and delight, Manga! Manga! is now increasingly referred to as a “cult item,” a “classic,” or even “the Bible on Japanese comics.” While by no means a best-seller, it still sells nearly as well as it did when first published, despite being hard to find and often out of stock. Several universities use it as a textbook in courses on Japanese popular culture. I occasionally receive e-mail from young fans around the world who weren’t even born when the book was first pub- lished. And although no parks or cities have been named after it, in 1996 a Japanese bistro in Berkeley, California, was.

Of course, what sustains this interest in Manga! Manga! is not just the book itself but the changes that have occurred around it. When I first came up with the idea for Manga! Manga! in the late seventies, I never dreamed that both manga (comics) and their offshoot, anime (animation), would be- come as popular as they have today, either in Japan or overseas. I simply hoped to draw people’s attention to a unique and modern Japanese art form, one that I loved very much.

Those were very different times. Japan was still recovering from the ef- fects of the seventies’ “oil shocks” and not yet the technological and eco- nomic powerhouse it is today. No one I knew used mobile phones or faxes or even computers. In fact, as hard as it is to imagine now, I wrote the first drafts of Manga! Manga! in longhand and then rat-a-tat-tat typed them up on a typewriter, manually cutting up the pages and gluing and pasting them back together to edit them. The completed manuscript was hand- carried from San Francisco to the publisher in Japan by special courier.

Similarly, while more people were reading comics in Japan then than in any other country, manga were just starting to emerge from the cocoon of the youth culture that had spawned them. Clearly illustrating the growth




23. When repairs were made on the main hall of Nara’s Horyuji temple in 1935, caricatures were found on the backs of planks in the ceiling, prob- ably scribbled there at the end of the 7th century. Long noses to this day have an erotic implication in Japanese art.

A Thousand Years of Manga

No one knows exactly when the first Japanese tried his or her hand at cartooning, or why, but it was probably with a playful, irrepressible spirit. The earliest examples of caricature have been found in some very unlikely places.

During the 6th and 7th centuries A.D., the imperial Japanese court was infatuated with Chinese civilization and deter- mined to adopt as much of it as possible. Buddhism was intro- duced as a powerful new faith and was accompanied by a frenzy of temple building. Caricatures of everything from animals and people to grossly exaggerated phalli have been found behind the walls and ceilings of two of these sacred buildings—the Toshodaiji and Horyuji temples in the region of Nara city—presumably doodled there by bored scribes and construction laborers (fig. 23).

Again, when Japan’s first undisputed masterpiece of car- tooning was created at the beginning of the 12th century, the artist was a priest—the now legendary Bishop Toba. Cho- jugiga, or the “Animal Scrolls,” as Toba’s work is known, was a narrative picture scroll, an art form originally intro- duced from China to which the Japanese added their own ir- reverent brand of humor. What did it portray? Among other things, Walt Disney-style anthropomorphized animals in an- tics that mock Toba’s own calling—the Buddhist clergy (fig 24).


Picture scrolls like Chojugiga are among the oldest surviving examples of Japanese narrative comic art. Scrolls did not con- sist of pages or of drawings divided into frames like today’s comics; they formed a continuum. At first they were accom- panied by a text, but their length (as much as 80 feet) and stylization often rendered this unnecessary. As one untied the string that bound it and began unrolling the scroll from right


• >Cx%^ to left, hills faded into plains, roofs of houses dissolved to show the occupants inside, and, like the comics of today, changes in time, place, and mood were signified by mist, cherry blossoms, maple leaves, or other commonly under- stood symbols.

Like early art forms in all cultures, most early Japanese pic- ture scrolls had religious themes, but the seriousness of their subject often could not disguise the playfulness that artists ap- proached it with. During the Kamakura period (1192-1333), when warfare raged throughout the land, scrolls were made illustrating the six worlds of the Buddhist cosmology— heaven, humans, Ashura (Titans), animals, “hungry ghosts,” and hell. They reminded the Japanese of the day of the Bud- dhist precept of nonattachment to the material world, but in a fashion that was more likely to make him ponder man’s stupidity than suffer nightmares of guilt. Thus, in Jigoku Zoshi (“Hell Scrolls”), Gaki Zoshi (“Hungry Ghost Scrolls”; fig. 25), and Yamai Zoshi (“Disease Scrolls”), suffering is depicted with sledgehammer realism: grossly deformed demons mock cowering humans; famished grotesqueries devour corpses and human excrement with gusto; the frailty of mortals is pounded home with a parade of maladies and aberrations—a man with hemorrhoids, a hermaphrodite, an albino. But no matter how grim the world described, the ar- tists employ a light and mocking cartoon style (fig. 26).

When not constrained by religious themes, many of the old scrolls ran positively wild, with a robust, uninhibited sense of humor much like that of today’s comics. Hohigassen (“Farting Contests”; fig. 27), told a tale of men vying with each other to create the most vile assault on the senses possible. Centuries later there are farting contests held on Japanese television and

24 (above and overleaf). Section of the first scroll of Chojugiga (“The Animal Scrolls”), showing animals in priests’ vestments, praying with prayer beads, reading sutras, and giving offerings in front of a Buddha figure, represented by a frog.




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Chojugiga—literally, “humorous pictures of birds and animals”—is the name of a series of four monochrome scrolls painted with brush and ink around the 12th cen- tury. Popular belief says that they were all created by the artist-priest Kakuyu, or Toba (1053-1140), but evidence suggests that he is responsible only for the first two. The first scroll depicts hares, monkeys, frogs, and foxes engaging in human activ- ities—bathing in rivers, practicing arch- ery, wrestling, and worshiping. The frogs are dressed as priests and the hares as nobles, leading scholars to claim that the scroll is a parody of the upperclass’s deca- dent lifestyle. Many regard it as one of the best examples of Japanese brush painting, and it bears an uncanny resemblance to the American style of animal animation in this century. The second scroll is a rather un- funny exercise in animal sketches. But the third and fourth scrolls are hilarious. They show not animals but priests lost in gam- bling, watching cock fights, and playing a type of strip poker. Chojugiga is owned by Kozanji, a Buddhist temple outside Kyoto.


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children’s comics known as unko manga, or “shit comics.” The scroll Yobutsu Kurabe (“Phallic Contests”) depicted men gleefully comparing their huge erect members and using them in ingenious feats of strength; the visual jokes involving genitals that are so common in comics today are therefore nothing new. What type of person would create such outrageous art? Scholars’ opinions vary, but legend attributes both works to the author of the “Animal Scrolls”—Bishop Toba.

The venerable Bishop was no heretic. Buddhism in Japan has a tradition of secularism that, while occasionally leading to excesses among the clergy, also encouraged such seemingly decadent works as the “Contests” scrolls. In the mid-17th cen- tury, moreover, there even developed a form of religious cartooning that directed spontaneous humor to a serious purpose. This was the Zenga, or “Zen picture.”

Zen pictures were a spiritual aid for the artist, whose ultimate goal was not the creation of an image on paper but reinforcement of a state of mind. Imported from China, Zen Buddhism exhibits some qualities of the earthy tradition of Taoism and stresses the attainment of a sudden enlighten- ment, or satori, by freeing one’s mind from the phenomenal world. The spiritual acrobatics required for such a feat are boosted by an irreverent attitude and a refined sense of the absurdity of man’s “permanent condition.” As R. H. Blyth says in his book Oriental Humor, “Any orthodox religion is always opposed to, and opposed by, humor. Zen only, in its being . . . unorthodox, or rather non-orthodox, is hum- orous, and must be humorous.” From such an attitude were Zen pictures born.

In their most basic form Zen pictures were simply circles




25. Section of Gaki Zoshi (“Hungry Ghost Scrolls”), by an unknown artist in the late 12th century. Painted in color on paper, the scroll il- lustrates the sufferings of human spirits with the misfortune to be reincarnated as “hungry ghosts,” who eat excrement and corpses and generally lead a miserable existence—perhaps a reminder of the importance of good behavior in this life. Eight hundred years later, in 1970, ]6ji Akiyama would incorporate the spirit of this scroll, and many of the exact same scenes, in his story-comic Ashura.

26. Section of Hyakki Yako (“Night Walk of One Hundred Demons”), a 15th-century scroll painted in color on paper by Mitsunobu Tosa. The demons are a playful lot, devoid of religious seriousness, who emerge at night, cavort with musical in- struments, and then disappear with the morning mist. Throughout the ages Hyakki Yako has in- spired artists who dabble in the fantastic, including Shigeru Mizuki, today’s foremost creator of ghost stories.

27. Section from the scroll Hohigassen (“Farting Contests”), copy of a lost original, popularly at- tributed to the artist-priest Toba. A band of men eat a huge batch of sweet potatoes, and then gleefully compete in a game in which everyone loses—collecting huge quantities of wind in bags, releasing it in each other’s faces, farting, and using a fan for self-defense.




28. “Ofuku’s Moxibustion,” a Zen picture by Ekaku Hakuin. A happy matron gives an applica- tion ofmoxa, a traditional cauterization treatment, to a woeful old man’s hemorrhoids, implying thui a brief shock can not only cure but also open one’s mind and bring enlightenment.

29. A foolish mouse feeds a drunken cat red pep- pers, thus speeding his own demise. Otsu-e developed_ in the mid-17th century around the town of Otsu, near Kyoto. The mass-production artists used paper patterns to paint in solid color blocks and then a brush and ink to add details. The example here is by Shozan Takahashi, one of two Otsu-e painters still practicing today.


drawn to represent the Void. The more humorous pictures il- lustrated the spiritual riddles called koan, used by a master to open the stubborn, clinging-to-the-here-and-now mind of the novice. They could suggest a profound beauty or be very off- color. Identical Zen pictures were produced by the hundreds by masters like Ekaku Hakuin (1685-1768; fig. 28) and Gibon Sengai (1750-1837). The thought behind the action was of paramount importance; a quick flourish of the brush yielded a black-and-white metaphor of spiritual truth, and the un- signed work was then often discarded.

In their simplicity, Zen pictures exemplified a trait common to almost all Japanese art, including today’s comics—an economy of line. Josiah Conder, an Englishman who studied art under a Japanese woodblock artist/cartoonist at the turn of this century, noted: “The limits imposed on the technique of his art, and the constant practice of defining form by means of line drawn with a flexible brush, have enabled the Japanese painter to express in line even the most intangible and elusive shapes, without the aid of shading or color.”

But humorous Zen pictures and scrolls were rarely seen by the common people. Almost all art in olden times was the property of the clergy, the aristocracy, and the powerful war- rior families. Clearly, ordinary people also hungered for art that entertained, and in the mid-17th century a boom took place in simple cartoons sold only near the town of Otsu, near Kyoto, on the main road_from the capital to the north (fig. 29). These Otsu-e, or “Otsu pictures,” began as Buddhist amulets for travelers but later became uninhibited, secular cartoons with stock themes: beautiful women, demons in priests’ garb, and warriors. Eventually they were produced in the thousands by artisans using paper patterns in a crude form of printing.

Truly popular, secular art was spurred by the refinement in Japan of the woodblock-printing process in the early 17th century. During the Edo period (1600-1867), Japan was ruled

30. A woodblock cartoon by Kuniyoshi Utagawa, from the early 19th century.


by a feudal dictatorship that tried to freeze social change in order to preserve itself. A rigid class system was defined; political dissent in any form, including art, was banned; and unlicensed intercourse with foreign nations was prohibited on penalty of death. By the time stagnation and the arrival of the American “barbarians” put an end to this reactionary experi- ment, peace and unprecedented prosperity among the mer- chant class in the towns had already generated a money economy, and with it a demand for cheap entertainment. This in turn had stimulated an assembly-line-style, mass produc- tion of woodblock prints for popular consumption.

The most popular prints were called ukiyo-e—illustrations of the “Floating World,” a term suggestive of life’s uncertain- ties and the search for sensual pleasures to sweeten one’s feeling of hopelessness (figs. 30-34). Ukiyo-e were initially crude, monochrome prints that usually portrayed men and women cavorting at Yoshiwara, the red-light district of old Edo (now Tokyo). The establishment of the day regarded them as trash, but gradually their subject matter diversified and their quality improved. They depicted the pleasures and pastimes of the day—fashions, popular places to visit, the

31. “The Vertical and the Horizontal Face,” by Hokusai Katsushika. An early use of the “split- frame” technique, which preceded the sequential frames of comics later. It is contained in Hokusai Manga (“Hokusai Cartoons”), a fifteen-volume collection of Hokusai’s sketches’;- issued between 1814 and 1878, that depicted everything which struck the artist’s fancy: fat people, skinny people, contortionists, monsters, and serious still lifes. It was so popular it was reproduced until the printing blocks wore out.




32. A mid-19th-century woodblock illustration by Kuniyoshi Utagawa for a popular horror story, showing a very haunted house. latest Kabuki theater idols, and oft-told historical tales—in

flowing lines and multiple colors. They were also compiled into picture books.

Many years later, Europeans would find old ukiyo-e prints used as packing in tea boxes sent from Japan, and artists—in particular the Impressionists—would marvel at their strange beauty. Like so much of old Japanese art, ukiyo-e projected a spare reality: without dwelling on anatomy and perspective, they tried to capture a mood, an essence, and an impres- sion—something also vital to caricature and cartooning.

Like the comics of today, ukiyo-e were part of the popular culture of their time: they were lively, topical, cheap, enter-

taining, and playful. Masters of the genre regularly infused their works with humor, experimented with deformation of line, and dabbled in the fantastic, the macabre, and the erotic. Hokusai Katsushika (1760-1849), a print artist, was the first person in Japan to coin the word manga, the current Japanese term for comics and cartoons. Sharaku Toshusai, active in the late 18th century, was a master of caricature. Kuniyoshi Utagawa (1797-1861) reveled in puzzle pictures. And in the violent warrior prints of Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-92) can be seen the same stylized blood spatters that characterize so many action comics today.

Most ukiyo-e artists also dabbled in shunga, or “spring pic-


In his book The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art, Michael Sullivan describes the “grande explosion japonaise” in Europe during the mid- to late 19th cen- tury. Newly “discovered” Japanese prints were the rage at fashionable Paris salons, and their lines, motifs, and formats ex- erted a tremendous influence on the leading painters of the day, men like Monet, Manet, Whistler, Van Gogh, and Toulouse-Lautrec. William Michael Rossetti in London was a typical fan. Writing in 1863, he praised Hokusai Manga for having a “daringness of con- ception, an almost fiercely tenacious grasp of its subject, a majesty of designing power and sweep of line, and a clenching hold upon the imagination,” Almost 120 years later, Frank Miller, the young art- ist/writer for the current American best- sellers Daredevil and Wolverine, stated in an interview in Comics Journal in 1982, “Lately, I’ve been immersing myself in Japanese prints. . . . They closely resem- ble comic book drawing, which in many ways is emblematic. People have come to recognize a certain configuration of lines as being a nose, for example. . . . They deal with a series of images that, like com- ics, have to convey information.” And later: “I was able to ‘read’ a hundred pages of [a Japanese comic] the other day without ever becoming confused. And it was written in Japanese! They rely totally on the visuals. They approach comics as a pure form more than American comics artists do.”




33. “Staring at a Horse’s Ass,” by Bokusen Maki, in the cartoon book Kyogaen (“Garden of Crazy Pictures”), published in 1809.

tures,” which like the erotic comics of today portrayed men and women (and other combinations as well) joined in every conceivable position of lovemaking. It is the uninhibited and often humorous quality of Japanese erotic art that so distinguishes it from that of the rest of the world, then and now. Whereas the Chinese erotic artists of old drew their boudoir stars with dainty little privates, the Japanese shunga artists gave free rein-to their abundant imaginations. The men in their prints possess extravagantly displayed and exag- gerated members (the way most men would see themselves in their fantasies), and the women are appropriately accom- modating. Occasionally the authorities would make half- hearted attempts to stamp out shunga, but little success was achieved until the 20th century, when Japan bent over backwards to conform to the Christian concepts of morality of the international community. Ironically, it is the Japanese who censor nudity today, while many of the Western nations have ceased to do so. Original shunga can only be published or displayed in their unexpurgated state outside of Japan.

Woodblock printing in the Edo period was also used to manufacture what may have been the world’s first “comic books.” Like the earlier scrolls, they did not have sequential panels and word balloons. Instead they consisted of twenty or more pages of pictures, with or without text, and were either bound with thread or opened accordion-style.

In 1702, Shumboku Ooka created a cartoon book named

Tobae Sankokushi, depicting mischievous, long-legged little men frolicking in scenes of daily life at Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo. It appears to have started a fad in the Osaka area of what came to be known as Toba-e—”Toba pictures,” named after the creator of the “Animal Scrolls.” Toba-e were printed in monochrome and compiled into booklets, and sometimes the pictures were accompanied by fables in text. Like the old Otsu-e, Toba-e sold by the thousands. Admiring readers col- ored them in, and later generations thumbed them to tatters (fig. 35).

Then there were the kibyoshi, or “yellow-cover,” booklets, consisting of monochrome prints and captions that told stories, often published as a series. Kibydshi were popular at the end of the 18th century and—in a pattern similar to the development of today’s adult comics—grew out of illustrated books for children that stressed fables. Kibydshi dealt with topical subjects for townspeople in a humorous fashion; more than once they were banned for satirizing the authorities. Unlike Toba-e, they had a strong story line.

By the middle of the 19th century, the Japanese had a rich tradition of entertaining, sometimes irreverent, and often nar- rative art. The old art forms would vanish in the years to come, but their spirit would continue to inspire cartoonists and would influence the way Japan was to embrace comic magazines and books in the 20th century.

34. A miniature god of wealth dances next to a decidedly female-looking Japanese radish. By the 19th-century artist Kunisada Utagaiva.

35. Illustrated humor books of the Edo period, with varying degrees of narrative. Those in the middle are Toba-e,




36. “A True Portrait of Perry, Emissary of the United States of North America.” Whether the anonymous mid-19th-century artist ever laid eyes on Perry is unclear; his painting may be based on the description written to the side. As if to com- pensate, he has Perry waxing romantic in a poem about memories of distant California. What seems a caricature today was the serious attempt of an artist unconcerned with anatomy and perspec- tive. Only a few years after Perry, such styles would vanish from portraiture and only be used in caricature.



In 1853 the United States, represented by Commodore Perry (fig. 36) and an armed “goodwill” fleet, forced Japan out of her self-imposed isolation. In doing so it triggered a virtual revolution in all areas of life, including art. Over the next fifty years, Japan accomplished a time-warp transition from a feudal kingdom into a modern industrialized nation.

With a new social order and new technologies came con- trasts and confusion. Two-sworded ex-samurai sashayed down streets with top coats and bowler hats, former vegetarians extolled the virtues of eating beef, and people boarded the first trains after leaving their shoes behind at the station—in keeping with the Japanese custom on entering buildings—only to be shocked when they arrived at their destination shoeless. It was a cartoonist’s paradise!

European-style cartoons were introduced during this period by two eccentric expatriate artists: a Britisher, Charles Wirgman (1835-91), and a Frenchman, George Bigot (1860-1927). Wirgman, or “Wakuman” as he was called, was a self-taught artist sent to Japan in 1857 as a correspondent for the Illustrated London News. He married a Japanese woman and stayed until his death. In the words of Ernest Satow, one of the first British diplomats in Japan, “Wirgman’s costume, consisting of wide blue cotton trousers, a loose yellow pongee jacket, no collar, and a conical hat of grey felt, gave rise to a grave discussion as to whether he was really an European, or only a Chinaman after all.”

Wirgman recorded some of the most dramatic events of the period, including a bloody attack on the British legation by a band of disgruntled samurai, which he witnessed while hiding under the floor. In 1862 he also published a British-style humor magazine, The Japan Punch, for the foreign communi- ty in Yokohama. The Japan Punch was primarily text and reflected the early isolation of the Europeans—it rarely men- tioned the world outside of the foreign compound at Yokohama—but it contained cartoons by Wirgman, who drew in the typically low-key style of the British (figs. 37, 38). In the few he drew of Japanese life, he cast a satirical eye on

37. Charles Wirgman’s The Japan Punch, a monthly with a circulation of around 200, was published in ‘Yokohama from 1862 to 1887. As the first Western-style humor magazine it had a tremendous influence on Japanese artists. The Japan Punch used Japanese technologies: its ten pages were of special Japanese paper, printed with woodblocks, and stitched Japanese-style. But the samurai Punch on the cover had a quill in his belt instead of a sword.

P-1″1c W 1876

38. A February 1876 cartoon by Wirgman in The Japan Punch showed Europeans as they must have looked to the Japanese—big-nosed, hairy, and ungainly.





39. George Bigot’s Tobae, published in Yokohama in 1887, was a biweekly, French-style humor magazine of thirteen pages, with cartoons parodying the “new Japan.” Like Wirgman’s magazine, it was aimed at the foreign community but had a profound impact on the Japanese.

40. “Tobae at Police Headquarters (An Actual Event),” by George Bigot, in an 1887 edition of Tobae. In the officer’s hand, as an example of what not to do, is Bigot’s Tobae. While he reprimands the gagged editors of Japan’s new Western-style newspapers and magazines, the Tobae jester, or Bigot, peers through the window in amusement.

the awe-struck citizens of Tokyo viewing their first bicycle, or caricatured Japan’s first students educated abroad who, on their return, he noted, “were supposed to know all about Politics, Laws, Constitutions, Finance, Sport, Congress, Cocktails, Religion, and Pickles, and are therefore perfectly capable of ruling the country.” Wirgman’s journalistic car- toons were a new type of humor and art to the Japanese, who were so fascinated that they even put out a translated version of The Japan Punch. Wirgman is today considered the patron saint of the modern Japanese cartoon. Each year a ceremony is held at his grave in Yokohama.

George Bigot arrived in Japan in 1882 to teach art at an army officer’s school, and was an even more flamboyant character than Wirgman. He signed his name “Biko,” with the ideograms for “beautiful” and “good,” married a former geisha, and wore a kimono and Japanese sandals. In 1887, he also formed his own magazine, Tobae (after Bishop Toba), in which he drew cartoons that satirized both Japanese society and government. Bigot was constantly in trouble with the Japanese authorities, but to Japanese artists, who had long been forbidden to criticize their government, his acts seemed bold, and worthy of emulation (figs. 39, 40).

The Japanese were fortunate to have Wirgman and Bigot as mentors. Both men were not only excellent cartoonists but ac- complished formal artists from whom European advances in perspective, anatomy, and shading (things Japanese artists had not always put fully to use) could be studied. And through them the developed social and political cartooning traditions of England and France, of the British Punch and Honore Daumier, could be absorbed. Furthermore, both men

introduced two elements which would later be crucial to the development of today’s comics: Wirgman often employed word ballons for his cartoons and Bigot frequently arranged his in sequence, creating a narrative pattern.

From the Westerners with whom they came in contact, the Japanese also acquired new printing technologies. Woodblock printing was expensive and time-consuming. The introduc- tion of copperplate printing, zinc etching, lithography, metal type, and eventually photoengraving finally made the printed word—and the cartoon—a true medium of the masses. Soon after the arrival of Wirgman and Bigot, the Japanese began publishing their own humor magazines and daily newspapers, modeled after those of the West. And artists began using a pen instead of a brush.

The most famous of these Japanese humor magazines was Marumaru Chimbun, issued in 1877 and inspired by The Japan Punch. It suggests the speed with which the Japanese were absorbing Western techniques, for technically the magazine was superior to Wirgman’s and closer to the original British Punch. The cover, drawn by Kinkichiro Hon- da, incorporated Japanese puns but was drawn in a distinctly British style with a pen and was printed using zinc etching. The cartoons inside had both Japanese and English captions (figs. 41, 42).

In 1880, a cartoon by Honda parodying the difficulties of Japan’s new parliamentary government resulted in a year’s imprisonment, not of Honda but of the magazine’s editor. Clearly the government was not altogether pleased with this new genre of journalistic endeavor.

By the end of the 19th century (fig. 43), the focus of Japanese cartoonists began to shift from Europe to the United States, where a lively, less subtle type of political cartoon was popular, and where Joseph Pulitzer’s New “York World was experimenting with color Sunday supplements and the first true comic strips—complete with sequential panels and word balloons. In 1897, the socialist Shusui Kotoku, later executed


41. A cover by Kinkichiro Honda for Marumaru Chimbun, a British-style weekly humor magazine founded in 1877 by Fumio Nomura, who earlier had illegally traveled to England. The Japanese government censored publications with little circles, hence marumaru (“circles”). Chimbun was a pun on the loord for newspaper (shirnbun), im- plying “strange tidings.” The horse and deer at the top of the page symbolized the ideograms for the word baka, or “foolishness.” Honda also created cartoons inside. The magazine was printed in Yokohama at a shop supervised by an American.

42. A lithographed cartoon by Kiyochika Kobayashi in Marumaru Chimbun in 1886, lam- pooning the zeal of officials in Kyoto trying to eradicate an outbreak of cholera. The official reads to dogs, who recite the precautions they must take in sanitation, In the window, cholera, personified by a cat, fears that he may become “unemployed.” Kobayashi reportedly studied art with Charles Wirgman and was one of the first Japanese artists to use word balloons,




43. “Patriots of the Meiji Restoration and Today’s Government Officials,” an 1897 cartoon by Kotaro Nagahara (an artist in- fluenced by Bigot) in the Japanese magazine Mezamashigusa. Us- ing a “then and now” split-frame technique, Nagahara parodied the modernization of Japan, contrasting the hungry idealism of young samurai in the 1860s when the feudal shogunate was over- thrown, with their portly selves years later as bureaucrats. Ac- tually, Nagahara only drew the bottom frame. The top one was cut out of an 1869 cartoon by Charles Wirgman showing young samurai in awe at the sight of their first bicycle.

RAKUTEN KITAZAWA (1876-1955) At age 20, Rakuten Kitazawa was reportedly told the following by Yukichi Fukuzawa, one of the leaders of Japan’s modernization drive: “In the West they have pictures that parody and criticize both government and society. These ‘car- toons’ are the only type of pictures capable of moving the world. If you wish to be an artist, you should pioneer this field.” And this is what Kitazawa did. Working first for Box of Curios, an English-language weekly, and then for Fukuzawa’s Jifishimpo newspaper, Kita- zawa learned the latest techniques of Western cartooning and used his skills to poke fun at and criticize society and government. In 1905, in the midst of the Russo-Japanese war, he formed his own weekly, color cartoon magazine, Tokyo Puck; the cover to the first issue showed the Russian czar biting his bellybutton in frustration. Tokyo Puck, with a circula- tion of over 100,000, made Kitazawa rich and famous, and he went on to form other cartoon magazines as well as train dozens of young artists. In 1929 an exhibition of his work was held in Paris and he was decorated by the French government, making him one of the first Japanese car- toonists to receive international recogni- tion. A museum devoted to his work now stands on the site of his home in Omiya, near Tokyo.


for conspiring to assassinate the emperor, wrote a series on American political cartoons in Marumaru Chimbun, sug- gesting that these “crazy pictures” had “shone brilliantly” and been of great help in securing William McKinley’s victory over William Jennings Bryan in 1896.

Several years later, two of Japan’s most famous cartoonists of this century, Rakuten Kitazawa (1876-1955) and Ippei Okamoto (1886-1948), helped popularize and adapt American cartoons and comic strips.

Kitazawa learned his trade working at an American magazine published in Yokohama, the Box of Curios. He went on to become one of the most versatile and skilled car- toonists to emerge in Japan and is today the only one with a museum in his honor (figs. 44-46). When he cartooned with a pen, as was usual, his drawings had the tight lines and atten- tion to anatomy and perspective that characterize Western cartoons. When he used a brush, he could draw in the loose, simple, and subjective style the Japanese excelled at. His political cartoons had a sharp international perspective that makes those of Japan today look insipid by comparison.

In 1902, under the influence of the comic strips then blossoming in American newspapers, Kitazawa created the first serialized Japanese comic strip with regular characters. Called Tagosaku to Mokube no Tokyo Kembutsu (“Tago- saku and Mokube Sightseeing in Tokyo”), it ran in the Jiji Manga, a color Sunday supplement modeled after those of the United States. But it still did not use word balloons.


Okamoto worked for years for the Asahi newspaper draw- ing social and political cartoons, and greatly helped popularize the profession of cartoonist-journalist (fig. 47). Until Kitazawa and Okamoto came along, cartooning was something done as a sideline by those whose real goal was success as a “serious” artist. Okamoto tended to draw in a looser, more Japanese style than Kitazawa, but he too was versatile, creating for adults and children and experimenting with a narrative comic strip.

In the 1920s, a remarkable number of Japanese cartoonists (among them Rakuten Kitazawa, Ippei Okamoto, Sako Shishido, and Yutaka Aso) traveled abroad, often to the United States (fig. 48). Okamoto, after visiting the New York World, marveled at the “Sunday Funnies” that were sweeping America. Writing back to the Asahi newspaper in 1922, he commented: “The American people love to laugh, but not in the stiff manner of the British. Their laugh is an innocent one, that instantly dispels fatigue. . . . American comics have become an entertainment equal to baseball, motion pictures, and the presidential elections. Some observers say that comics have replaced alcohol as a solace for workers since Prohibi- tion began.”

44. Tokyo Puck, founded by Rakuten Kitazawa and probably the most international magazine ever produced in Japan. Kitazawa’s cartoons had captions in English, Chinese, and Japanese, and regularly focused on international events. His cover for this 1906 issue depicts Teddy Roosevelt trying to reach an “anti-Japanese” wasp, showing how concerned Japanese were about discrimi- natory laws being passed against them in America. Covers like this resulted in a protest from the United States Embassy in Japan.


45. In 1911 Kitazawa issued a special edition of Tokyo Puck on women’s rights, in which he reacted strongly to a feminist movement stirring in Japan. The cover caption read. “Virgin! Virgin! That is where the divinity of the sex dwells.” The cartoons inside were a hymn to traditional values: (1) “Lord husband.” (2) “His lordship’s domain somewhat reduced.” (3) “Still more reduced.” (4) “Until my Lady queens it all.”




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X ! £ £\_ In his other dispatches Okamoto delighted readers with

descriptions of two of the then most popular strips, Bringing •up Father and Mutt and Jeff.

Largely because of Okamoto’s introduction, on 14 November 1923 George McManus’s Bringing up Father began serialization in the first issue of the new weekly called Asahi Graph (fig. 49). By the time World War II began, American newspaper strips that had been translated and serialized in Japan included Cliff Sterrett’s Polly and Her Pals, Bud Fisher’s Mutt and Jeff, Fred Hopper’s Happy Hooligan, and Pat Sullivan’s Felix the Cat.

Readers enjoyed American comics as introductions to an exotic culture, and artists adopted their format (fig. 50). But unlike in European nations such as Italy or France, American comic strips (and later comic books) in Japan were no com- petition for the domestic variety. Japan’s relative cultural isolation has always allowed her to be more choosy about foreign influences and then to adapt them to her own tastes. Around the time Bringing up Father began serialization, Japanese newspapers realized the power of comic strips to at- tract readers and began hiring Japanese artists who used American styles. Foreign comics were exotic but, in the end, alien. Japanese comics were a smash hit.

In January 1924, a four-panel family strip by Yutaka Aso entitled Nonki na Tosan (“Easy-going Daddy”; fig. 51) began

46. Tagosaku to Mokube no Tokyo Kembutsu (“Tagosaku and Mokube Sightseeing in Tokyo”), Japan’s first serialized comic strip, by Rakuten Kitazawa, in a 1902 issue of Jiji Manga. Two country bumpkins who speak a humorous dialect stop for a drink at a pump. . . .



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47. Ippei Okamoto portrays himself ordering crab at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, 1922. Being unable to speak English was no handicap.

48. In 1931, a clothbound comic book titled Yonin Shosei (“Four Students”) was drawn and published by Yoshitaka Kiyama, who had lived in San Francisco for over twenty years. It was a good-natured account of the author’s experiences with the language barrier, racism, and the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, and was designed for his friends who spoke both English and Japanese. In this sequence, Henry (the author) finds a job as a houseboy for a rich matron, and assumes he should scrub her back for her, Japanese style. He is saved by his sponsor.





52. “Cool,” by Saseo Ono, in a 1929 issue of Tokyo Puck. As lovers neck in the background on a hot summer night, a male shadow approaches. The voluptuous flapper extends an invitation: “Have a seat. . . . ”

53. “The Future Coed,” a 1921 cartoon by Rakuten Kitazawa. Modernization and education for women brought, among other things, a genera- tion gap. Caption: “My poor dear mother and father, you’simply don’t know the truth about marriage. You may be older than I am, but I have more education. Besides, can you even read this English?”


serialization in the Hochi newspaper. It was created at the re- quest of the editor, who wanted something to cheer up the survivors of the September 1923 earthquake that had leveled Tokyo and killed over 100,000 people. Nonki na Tosan starred a likable “uncle”-type who showed people the way out of gloom and despair; the series became an unprecedented success. It was compiled into best-selling booklets, merchan- dised as wind-up dolls, puppets, and towels, and eventually dramatized on the radio and made into films. Artistically, it was a direct spin-off of Bringing up Father, but its everyday- life situations and the self-effacing character of its hero had a quality Japanese readers naturally warmed to. Initially, the American influence was obvious: the speech in Nonki na Tosan’s balloons was horizontal.

Around the same time, the first serialized comic strips for children also appeared in newspapers. Some, like Katsuichi Kabashima’s Sho-chan no Boken (“Adventures of Little Sho”), used dialogue balloons. Others, like the works of Shigeo Miyao, were done in the captioned-picture style that would survive in Japan until the 1950s.

Miyao had the distinction of being one of the first profes- sional artists to specialize in children’s comics. After an ap- prenticeship to Ippei Okamoto, in 1922 he began serializing a six-panel strip, Manga Taro (“Comics Taro”), in a daily

newspaper; it was well received and compiled into book form just in time for most copies to be destroyed in the 1923 earth- quake. Undaunted, in 1924 he began a comedy tale of a little samurai-superman, Dango Kushisuke Man’yiiki, as a suc- cessor. When published as a hardbound book by Kodansha, it became a long-term bestseller, with over a hundred reprint- ings in the next ten years. Children’s comics in Japan, like those in the United States, had begun in the newspapers, but their compilation into a book format already signaled a very different direction.


The 1920s were a dizzying decade in Japan, when un- precedented political and social freedoms led to experimenta- tion in ideology and lifestyle. Like cities in the United States, Japanese cities were swept by many of the fads of the Roaring ’20s and the Jazz Age. Western fashions, Harold Lloyd-style glasses, baggy pants, and flapper dresses were the rage among young urban sophisticates, who were labeled moga-mobo (a rendering of English “modern-girl, modern-boy”). Artists like Saseo Ono and Hisara Tanaka depicted this decadent- progressive society found in the cafes, bars, and theaters of Tokyo (figs. 52, 53). Ono in particular gained fame for his erotic drawings of flapper girls. Mild by today’s standards,

54. A 1929 cover illustration for Tokyo Puck, titled “Changing Ginza, ” by Hekoten Shimokawa. Caption: “After moga-mobo, Man-boy and Engels-girl.”

55. “Two-Headed Quarrel, ” by Kogoro Inagaki, in a 1930 issue of Tokyo Puck. OfJ the top head, labeled “Landlords, rides the military. On the lower head, “Bourgeoisie,” rides the government. The carbine in the middle is “Imperialism.” Cap- tion: “The present quarrel between the govern- ment and the military over who is to rule the nation only exposes what is really a conflict be- tween a feudalistic landlord class and the new bourgeoisie—over imperialism. ”




56. Kanemochi Kyoiku (“Bringing up a Rich Man”), by Masamu Yanase, (I) The sound of a bugle (2) grates on the ears of landlords, (3) nationalists, and (4) a policeman in his run-down station, but (5) is music to the rich man soaking in his tub. (6) He finds its sound invigorating—imagines business booming, and maybe even starting a healthy little war. (7, 8) But then a ser- vant tells him the bugle belongs to a group of his sharecroppers organized as the Young Proletarians. (9) As the rich man drives off for the day, he orders his driver to lean on the horn and blot out the dreadful noise. Kanemochi Kyoiku was begun in 1929 in the Yomiuri Sunday Manga, a remarkable U.S.-style color supplement for children and adults that featured works by artists from both ends of the political spectrum.

57. A poster calling on the government to stop its war of aggression in China appears on a telephone pole. A policeman tries to remove if … and another appears. By dissident artist lard Yashima in New Sun, published in 1943 outside Japan.


his work fell into the category of what was then referred to as ero-guro-nansensu (ero-tic, gro-tesque, and nonsens- ical) art, a forerunner of today’s erotic comics and gag strips for adults.

But Japan’s rush to modernize did not occur without social disruption, especially over economic inequities. Many in- tellectual artists were radicalized by the problems they saw and opted to work in the new “proletariat” and agit-prop genre of cartoons and comic strips (figs. 54, 55). The success of the Russian Revolution in 1917 handed them an attractive ideology on a platter. To be an antiestablishment artist in the ’20s and ’30s in Japan almost always meant being a Marxist. Publications such as the Musansha Shimbun (“Proletariat News”), Senki (“War Banner”), and even several moderate magazines regularly featured the radicalized work of artists in leftist groups like the “Japan Proletariat Art League.”

The most versatile ideological artist of all, Masamu Yanase, used his artistic talents to skewer his enemies and fur- ther the cause. Drawing in the style of Germany’s resistance artist, George Grosz, and the radical United States artists Robert Minor and Fred Ellis, he depicted wholesome laborers and fat, corrupt bosses in cartoons. In 1929 he even created an ideological comic parodying George McManus’s Bringing up Father. It was called Kanemochi Kyoiku (“Bringing up a Rich Man”; fig. 56).

But cracks were appearing in Japan’s liberal facade. Even as artists were being politicized, an out-of-control ultrana- tionalistic military, bent on expansion on the continent of Asia, was taking control of the civilian government. Ideological artists like Yanase frequently suffered arrest, and occasionally torture.

In the late ’20s and the early ’30s, the government’s new thought-police, armed with an Orwellian “Peace Preservation Law,” learned to control those who harbored subversive ideas (fig. 57). They did so by intimidating artists and their editors. More than one magazine was forced to close; most were coerced into self-censorship. Arrest was the fate of editors who did not comply, and it happened so often that some magazines designated an employee as “jail editor”—he who had the honor of taking the rap and saving the company.

Persecution encouraged artists to work in safer genres, in- directly producing a boom both in children’s comics and in ero-guro-nansensu for adults.

Comic strips in the 1920s had generally consisted of no more than four to eight frames on a page, serialized in newspapers or their color supplements (fig. 58). In the 1930s, however, fat monthly children’s magazines like Kodansha’s Shonen Club began including longer, serialized comics, where each episode often ran to 20 pages and formed a complete story. When these stories were compiled, they were issued as beautiful, clothbound, hardback volumes of around 150 pages, printed in color and sold in fancy cardboard cases. Many children’s classics emerged from this period, notably Suiho Tagawa’s Norakuro (“Black Stray”) and Keizo Shimada’s Boken Dankichi (“Dankichi the Adventurer”). They call up fond memories for older Japanese people today, and their reprints still sell well (figs. 59-61).


The most famous prewar Japanese children’s magazines were published by Kodansha: Shonen Club, a boys’ monthly formed in 1914; Shojo Club, a girls’ monthly begun in 1923; and “Yonen Club, a monthly for very young children founded in 1926. All contained photo- articles, lavishly illustrated stories, adver- tisements, considerable color printing, and serialized comics which were also compiled into hardback books. They were, in a sense, the prototypes for to- day’s huge children’s comic magazines: they specialized according to the age and sex of the reader; they often contained over 400 pages per issue; and in their hey- day they had enormous circulations—in January 1931, “Yonen Club sold over 950,000 copies. But war took a terrible toll on what were once cheery and enter- taining magazines. Photographs and ar- ticles increasingly featured the exploits of Japanese soldiers. Covers showed boys scowling and carrying guns instead of smiling and playing. And comics, perhaps regarded as frivolous, began to disappear. The July 1945 issue of Shonen Club con- sisted of only 32 pages, all text, with no cover. The last page showed readers how to throw a hand grenade. All three magazines survived the war and again began serializing comics, but they were never able to regain their former glory. In the early 1960s, they were completely replaced by magazines that specialized in comics.




58. Spido Tare (“Speedy”), by Sako Shishido, debuted in the Yomiuri Sunday Manga in 1930 and wowed young readers with its cliff-hanging action. Speedy, the hero, was a little boy combatting an international conspiracy, and he drove cars, flew airplanes, and used a parachute. Spido Taro’s layout, pacing, and use of sound-words clearly showed the influence of the American “Sunday Funnies” and action films. Shishido had lived in the United States for nine years and studied American cartooning through a correspondence course. Spido Tare was compiled into book form in 1935.

59. Lieutenant Norakuro yells, “Charge! . . . ” Suiho Tagawa’s Norakuro (“Black Stray”) was a series of stories about a bumbling stray dog who joined the Imperial Army and over the years rose from private first class to captain. In the process he stopped walking on all fours and making mistakes, but he also became less humorous and less in- teresting. Norakuro featured a series of battles with other “animal” armies and seemed to support the military, but the Japanese Imperial Army even- tually frowned upon it as bad for their image. Norakuro ran in Shonen Club from 1931 to 1941 and was compiled into ten hardcover books of about 150 color pages each.

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‘••m .**.’ 60. Artist Suiho Tagawa with Norakuro mer- chandise in 1937.

61. Dankichi and his mouse sidekick show faithful natives how to worship at the “Rising Sun” shrine, which he had them build. Boken Dankichi (“Dankichi the Adventurer”), by Keizo Shimada, was the story of a little boy who became “king” of a Pacific island, painted numbers on the natives to tell them apart, and showed them how to wage war with coconut bombs, elephant tanks, and bird airplanes. When white foreigners encroached on the island, Dankichi and his native army drove them off with fanciful cannons that shot—not shells—but live tigers. Boken Dankichi was serialized in Shonen Club from 1933 to 1939 and compiled into three hardcover volumes.




62. Kasei Tanken (“Mars Expedition’}, scripted by Taro Asahi and drawn by Noboru Oshiro, was a precocious science fiction comic published dur- ing the dark days of 1940. A complete story in 150 pages, it was printed in three colors and featured a little boy who traveled to Mars in a dream with his pals, a cat, and a dog. It depicted rockets and Mar- tians in detail and incorporated actual photo- graphs of the moon.

Most of these comics were moralistic, stressing traditional values of loyalty, bravery, and strength for young boys; so much so that in spite of their disarmingly naive style, the degree to which they furthered the cause of militarism is still the subject of scholarly debate. Yet hidden among the lesser- known works of the time was one of Japan’s first science fic- tion comic stories, Kasei Tanken (“Mars Expedition”; fig. 62), foreshadowing the tremendous popularity of this genre in the postwar period.

Compared to today’s comics, those of the ’30s had slow plots and unimaginative layouts, but many were in color, which today’s comics are not. Their lengthy book format, furthermore, represented another Japanese innovation on the American newspaper comic strip. The American comic book, in reality a slim magazine, was just beginning to develop around this time, and it was compiled from newspaper comic strips. Japanese book-comics, however, were being compiled from stories first serialized in magazines—as is still the case today.



World War II began for Japan in 1937 in China. With fanatic militarists in control of the government, the imperialist adventure on the continent spread out of control, ending finally with Japan’s defeat in 1945. During the long, dark years of the war the entire nation was mobilized, and artists and their creations were no exception (fig. 63).

The degree of conformity the government was able to im- pose on artists and intellectuals is frightening. Some, of course, believed in Japan’s avowed goal of liberating Asia from colonialism; others underwent what was called tenko, or conversion to the government line. The solidarity of an already very homogeneous nation was marshalled to bear upon dissidents through a carrot-and-stick approach: non- cooperation was punished by preventive detention, bans on writing, and social ostracism, while those who recanted were rewarded with rehabilitation programs and support from the community. In Japan, unlike Germany, executions were not necessary. With a few notable exceptions, artists who had spent most of their lives criticizing the government did an about-face and offered wholehearted support to the militarists.

The government skillfully exploited the Japanese propensi- ty for factionalism. Prior to World War II, it was virtually impossible to succeed as a professional cartoonist without belonging to some sort of group. In 1940, after most dissident groups had been destroyed, umbrella organizations like the New Cartoonists Association of Japan (Shin Nippon Mangaka Kyokai) were created with government support to unite cartoonists under an official policy. The New Car- toonists Association absorbed eight existing organizations, including the New Cartoonists Faction Group (Shin Manga- ha Shudan), which had been most powerful. The New Car-

63. Aniki no Tsutome (“An Elder Brother’s Du- ty”), by Etsurd Kato, ca. 1944. Standing in front of a line of school boys mobilized to work in fac- tories, an “older brother” worker shields them from a bottle of beer labeled “temptation.” As the war dragged on, one of the primary concerns of the government was to increase—and eventually just to maintain—industrial output. This led to an entire genre of comics and cartoons known as zosan manga, or “production comics.”




64. Kagaku Senshi Nyu Yoku ni Shutsugen su (“The Science Warrior Appears in New York”), by Ryuichi Yokoyama, in a 1943 edition of Manga. Towards the end of 1943 the tide of war was turn- ing against Japan. The idea of a giant robot that could stomp the enemy probably helped ease the frustration of the Japanese, who were already suf- fering bombing raids but were helpless to strike back.

toonists Association’s organ, Manga, a monthly edited by Hidezo Kondo, was the only cartoon magazine to continue publication throughout the war years, when paper was in short supply.

After Pearl Harbor in December 1941, cartoonists who were not banned from working or off fighting on the front were active in one of three areas: producing family comic strips that were totally harmless or promoted national solidarity; drawing single-panel cartoons that vilified the enemy in Manga or other domestic media; and working in the government and military service creating propaganda to be used against the opposing troops (fig. 64).

Family strips were low-key and optimistic, depicting in a humorous way the trials of living in a state of war for nearly a decade. Fusato Hirai’s Omoitsuki Fujin (“Innovative Housewife”) emphasized conservation and recycling at home when supplies were short. Ichio Matsushita’s Suishin Oyaji (“Mr. Promotion”; fig. 65) featured an energetic little com- pany president who constantly exhorted his workers and the populace to increase production and thereby win the war. The most popular Japanese newspaper strip of all time, Ryuichi Yokoyama’s Fuku-chan (“Little Fuku”; fig. 66), had begun in 1936 arid survived the war by adapting. In 1940 its title was changed to a more aggressive “Advance, Little Fuku!” and the original pattern on the robe of a supporting character was changed from “ABC” to “123.” During the war, ABC was the acronym for the enemy: America, Britain, and China.

Cartoons in the magazines, such as the semi-official 56 MANGA! MANGA!

Manga, regularly exhorted the nation to “Annihilate the Satanic Americans and British!” Kondo, the editor of Manga, drew skillful caricatures of politicians on the cover—a fanged, green-faced Roosevelt with hair standing on end, and an ef- fete, pot-bellied Churchill (fig. 67).

Artists directed their work overseas towards two objec- tives: persuading the native populations of Asia that the Japanese were liberators and the Allies the Devil in disguise, and sowing dissension in the ranks of Allied troops. Car- toons were an excellent medium for both goals because they transcended the formidable language barrier. In many regions the people were illiterate.

Many cartoonists were drafted and sent to war zones where they created reports for the public back home, propaganda leaflets for the local populace, and leaflets to be dropped over enemy lines. The greatest success was achieved with native Asian populations, who were often eager to throw off the

65. Suishin Oyaji (“Mr. Promotion”), drawn by Ichio Matsushita in 1943. (1.) Mr. Promotion mourns the death of Admiral Yamamoto, the hero of Pearl Harbor. (2) An assistant bursts in, an- nouncing that the men are agitated. (3, 4) Zealous employees with banners respectfully ask their president to write slogans to reinstill the proper spirit in the men. (5) Mr, Promotion, in a burst of energy, churns out slogans such as “Britain and America—Sworn Enemies,” “Never Forget the Ad- miral, ” and “Increase Production in the Name of Our Hero!” (6) As his employees race off to show “fighting spirit,” an ink-covered Mr. Promotion yells, “And I’ll write many more!”

. • > , : • : • • • • • •••:-




66. Panels from a 1942 episode of Ryuichi Yokoyama’s Fuku-chan (“Little Fuku”), the longest-running Japanese newspaper strip of all time. It debuted in 1936, survived the war, and continued until 1971. It owed its success to its lovable hero, Little fuku, who made people smile no matter how rough life was.

67. Hidezo Kondo’s Roosevelt with fangs, a cover illustration for a 1943 copy of Manga, the officially sanctioned wartime cartoon magazine.


yoke of European colonialism. But these influential artists did not always cut an imposing military figure. Yokoyama, Fuku- chan ‘s creator, was so small of stature that he had to have his regulation samurai sword shortened to prevent it from drag- ging on the ground.

There was work for everyone. Even the prewar moga- mobo faction was kept busy creating erotic leaflets directed at the American, British, and Australian/New Zealand troops. Erotic-pornographic cartoons and comic strips were designed to make the lonely soldier worry about the faithfulness of his girl back home and thereby decrease his fighting efficiency (fig. 68). Americans on rest-and-recreation in Australia were invariably portrayed seducing the Aussie soldier’s wife while hubby slogged through the jungle in the war zone.

But Japan’s enemies were also using propaganda cartoons, sometimes obtained from unexpected quarters. The Allies regularly issued a propaganda newspaper called Rakkasan Nyusu (“Parachute News”) and dropped it throughout Asia to Japanese troops and civilians in an attempt to weaken their morale. Since international copyright laws had long since lapsed, the Allies felt perfectly free to use the popular Jap- anese strip Fuku-chan in their own newspaper. When Yoko- yama, Fuku-chan’s original creator, was in Java drawing

Japanese propaganda leaflets, it is easy to imagine how sur- prised he would have been to see his own work fluttering down from the sky. On his return to Japan he was reportedly investigated by the police.

Early Allied propaganda leaflets were mostly ineffective because they were written by people with an inadequate com- mand of Japanese. But towards the end of the war a humanistic, highly effective comic strip called Unganaizo (“The Unlucky Soldier”) appeared. It had an oddly familiar look, and to the great surprise of those Japanese artists who had formerly been active leftists, it was created by none other than an old comrade, Taro Yashima, once a member of the proletariat movement in Japan. After being jailed and tor- tured in 1933, Yashima sailed to America, where he volunteered his services to the United States Army when the war began. Yashima was the only Japanese leftist artist who found a way to continue his overt resistance to Japanese militarism.

As Saburo lenaga has observed in his book The Pacific War, “The flood of crude officially sanctioned ‘information’ during the war years turned Japan into an intellectual insane asylum run by the demented.” Comic art as a tool of politics was both a product and a cause of the madness.

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Taro Yashima’s Unganaizo, produced dur- ing World War II on behalf of a desperate U.S. Office of War Information, was a twenty-panel comic leaflet that depicted a Japanese peasant dying for corrupt of- ficers. In contrast to the bumbling efforts of American propagandists with a poor understanding of Japanese, it did not meet with the enemy’s derision. Unganaizo was repeatedly found on the bodies of dead soldiers, a grisly testimony to its effec- tiveness. By the end of the war Yashima was in India working on a guide to sur- render for the war-weary Japanese soldier, who had been taught that suicide was his only recourse in defeat. One of Yashima’s main concerns, however, was to show the American people that the Japanese were not savages or mindless slaves to their emperor, as the Western media often implied. To this end in 1943 he created the New Sun, a narrative with captioned drawings. It was an expose of Japanese militarism and an account of how he and other dissidents had tried to oppose it before the war began. After the war Yashima remained in America, where he became an award-winning author of il- lustrated children’s books.

68. An anonymous wartime propaganda leaflet. Some of the artists who created such erotic material radically filtered their drawing styles to please American tastes, and then after the war complained that they had forgotten how to draw Japanese women.




69. The cover for the first issue of Kumanbachi (“The Hornet”), 1947—a hornet attacks the nose of then prime minister Shigeru Yoshida. Kumanba- chi appeared with the slogan, “I am the hornet of democracy, and for the sake of the democratic revolution, I fly around . . . BZZZ . . . , never tiring.” Like many cartoon magazines in the new “democracy,” Kumanbachi delighted in pillorying establishment figures, but it was short-lived, lasting only nine issues. Fumio Matsuyama, the cover artist and founder of the magazine, was a former member of the old Proletariat Art League, Today he is well known for his long years of work as cartoonist for Akahata (“Red Flag”), the Japan Communist Party’s daily newspaper.

© 1947 King Features Syndicate


*«.»*! * a •

70. Chic Young’s Blondie, a comic strip of the formerly “satanic” United States, was translated and serialized in 1946 in a magazine and later com- piled into booklets. Women readers, taught to be submissive to their husbands, loved to watch Blon- die lord it over Dagwood and to glimpse the lux- urious, mechanized, and leisured life of the American housewife. Shown here is a cover to a 1947 booklet.


After Japan’s unconditional surrender in August 1945, surviv- ing cartoonists emerged from rural evacuation or straggled home from all corners of Asia to settle in the bombed-out cities. Like a phoenix rising from smoking ashes, their art form began to flourish again—this time beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

Censorship continued in Japan for several years under the Allied Occupation, but it still allowed political artists more freedom than they had ever known before. The first result was a burst of activity. After surmounting a chronic paper shortage, newspapers and new or revived adult cartoon magazines like Van, Manga, and the leftist Kumanbachi (“The Hornet”; fig. 69) gave social and political artists a forum. Adjustment to new political realities progressed with amazing speed (fig. 70). Artists now embraced “democracy.” Leftists were joined by .prewar comrades who had “converted” to the side of the militarists for the duration of the war. Few questions were asked. It was symbolic of the change that the Yomiuri newspaper sent Hidezo Kondo, who had drawn Roosevelt with fangs, to report on the official signing of the U.S.-Japan Peace Treaty in San Francisco in 1951. But the spotlight was no longer on political cartoons.

The immediate postwar period was one of hunger and black markets, of orphans and limbless veterans. More than anything else, people wanted to rebuild their lives. In the dai- ly newspapers, serialized four-panel strips for the family were humorous, reassuring, and immensely popular. Favorite themes were average families making the best of hard times, and lovable little children. Most of the strips were subdued, endearing, and notable for their similarity of style. One which particularly caught the public fancy, however, was Sazae-san. As befitted the new era, its star was a young woman, and so was its author, Machiko Hasegawa. In the years after its appearance in 1946, Sazae-san spawned songs, a live-action film, an animated TV series, and over 20 million cartoon books. Its success paved the way for a later rush of women artists into a field that had been completely dom- inated by men (fig. 71).

Comics for children also reappeared in children’s magazines like the old Shonen Club, and in special color newspaper supplements (fig. 72). Perhaps reflecting a desire to forget the past, there was a boom in science fiction stories created by such artists as Fukujiro Fukui and Ichio Matsu- shita. Children’s comics at this time were mostly short pieces that employed styles pioneered before the war. But changes


71. The days of the Occupation: A young Sazae and her little sister emerge from a store that rations bread. “Sazae,” says little sister. “I think I dropped a loaf of bread.” “Well, start looking for it. . . . ” American soldiers in a truck zip by. “There it is!” Machiko Hasegawa’s Sazae-san was serialized in the Asahi newspaper from 1946 until 1974 and still sells well today as a series of sixty-eight volumes of cartoon books,

72. Cover for The Kodomo Manga Shimbun (“The Children’s Comics Newspaper”), a three- color weekly founded in 1946 that helped fill the gaps until children’s comic magazines began ap- pearing. In the strip in the center, a young boy eats an entire can of jam and then fools his father by putting it upside down on the table. Children were hungry for sweets, and food was a common theme. The Kodomo Manga Shimbun was an ex- ample of American-style color printing, and it used English on the cover. During the war English had been banned: with peace it appeared everywhere.




73. Masao Morishita, aged fifty-eight, is one of the few professional kami-shibai narrators still working today and has been in the business over thirty years. Every afternoon at the same time, he wheels his bicycle to a nearby park, where a crowd of children and their mothers are waiting. Deftly slipping sequential drawings in and out of the upright frame on his bicycle, Morishita provides both narration and sound effects. Timing is crucial to create suspense. Usually the show consists of three parts: drawings involving quizzes and au- dience participation; a comedy story; and a ghost story. The story shown here is “Blood Screams.”


were brewing outside the established publishing industry that would radically transform it. Young people in particular were starved not just for food, but for cheap entertainment.

One immediate result was a surge in popularity of il- lustrated outdoor storytelling, called kami-shibai, or “paper plays” (fig. 73). Using a sequence of hand-painted cardboard story sheets (varnished to keep off the rain), narrators would travel around neighborhoods and present—with sound ef- fects—stories to local children. Often the show was “free,” on the condition that those in the audience bought traditional sweets sold by the narrator. From the end of the war to the year 1953, when television broadcasts began, it is estimated that 10,000 people made a living as kami-shibai narrators and that 5 million people a day watched a show. Over twenty companies in Tokyo alone hired aspiring artists to produce the story sheets. Kami-shibai, like television animation to- day, was linked with comics. Several stories, notably Ogon Batto (“Golden Bat”), became comics later. And when televi- sion rendered kami-shibai storytelling obsolete, many of the artists who worked for the industry went on to become comic artists; some, like Sampei Shirato and Shigeru Mizuki, were to become nationally famous.

At the end of the war, the traditionally powerful Tokyo publishers were in disarray, and the old-style hardback com- ics they issued were too expensive for most children. As if sensing an opportunity, dozens of tiny companies sprang up, mainly in the rival business center of Osaka, publishing “red book” comics: notoriously cheap comics with red-ink covers, printed on rough paper and hawked on the streets. Artists were paid next to nothing but given considerable freedom. And among them was a young medical student named Osamu Tezuka, whose remarkable success would awaken the Tokyo companies to a new potential of the comic medium.

In 1947, when Tezuka was twenty, he created the comic Shintakarajima (“New Treasure Island”), loosely based on a script by Shichima Sakai (fig. 74). Shintakarajima was 200 pages long. Its creative page layout, clever use of sound ef- fects, and lavish spread of frames to depict a single action made reading Shintakarajima almost like watching a movie. Young readers were dazzled. No precise records exist, but sales of the comic are estimated at between 400,000 and 800,000, without the benefit of publicity.

74. Osamu Tezuka’s 1947 smash hit Shintakara- jima (“New Treasure Island”) was a goulash of Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, and Tarzan. The artist duo Fujio-Fujiko have described their reaction to Tezuka’s new-style comic in their 1978 semi-autobiographical comic, Manga Michi (“The Way of Comics”), (TOP) “We turned the first page of the book we had borrowed without permission, and reeled in shock!” (MIDDLE) Chapter title: “To the Sea of Adventure.” Sign: “Pier.” (BOTTOM) “New Treasure Island began with a flowing scene in which young Pete roared off in his sports car. It was Osamu Tezuka’s debut publication—a revolu- tion in postwar comics!”

Tezuka is an example of how one talented individual, born at the right time, can profoundly change the field he decides to work in. His heart was not in medicine, and when he even- tually abandoned his scalpel to become a professional artist he brought to the medium of children’s comics the cultivated mind of an intellectual, a fertile imagination, and the desire to experiment. Comics were merely a forum for Tezuka to ex- press himself. Stylistically his main influence was not comics but film, and the animation of Walt Disney and Max Fleisher. Tezuka was a frustrated animator.

Soon after the appearance of Shintakarajima, Tezuka was approached by several newly formed, Tokyo-based, quality boys’ magazines, including Manga Shonen and Shonen, in whose pages he began the serialization of what were to become two classics—Jungle Taitei (“Jungle Emperor”) and Atomu Taishi (“Ambassador Atom,” later changed to Te- tsuwan Atomu, or “Mighty Atom”). Years later he would animate both works as pioneering television series. Western readers may already be familiar with these works as Kimba, the White Lion and Astro Boy (figs. 75, 76).

TEZUKA ON FILMS AND COMICS From the autobiography of Osamu Tezuka: “I felt [after the war] that existing comics were limiting. . . . Most were drawn . . . as if seated in an audience viewing a stage, where the actors emerge from the wings and interact. This made it impossible to create dramatic or psychological effects, so I began to use cinematic techniques. . . . French and German movies that I had seen as a schoolboy became my model. I ex- perimented with close-ups and different angles, and instead of using only one frame for an action scene or the climax (as was customary), I made a point of depict- ing a movement or facial expression with many frames, even many pages. . . . The result was a super-long comic that ran to 500, 600, even 1,000 pages. . . . I also believed that comics were capable of more than just making people laugh. So in my themes I incorporated tears, grief, anger, and hate, and I created stories where the ending was not always ‘happy.’ ”




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75. Leo, the Jungle Emperor, and Hige Oyaji are caught in a blizzard while on an expedition to the mountains. To save his friend’s life, Leo impales himself on Hige Oyaji’s knife and offers his body. A sobbing Hige Oyaji reluctantly accepts Leo’s fur and flesh, and lives. One of the moving final scenes from Osamu Tezuka’s Jungle Taitei (“]ungle Emperor”), a humanistic tale of three generations of intelligent lions who try to protect and organize the animal kingdom. It was serialized in Manga Shonen from 1950 to 1954 and made into Japan’s first color animated television series in 1965.

The demand for Tezuka comics (and imitations) seemed in- satiable. He experimented with his new style in a spate of pro- ductivity, creating science fiction, detective stories, historical works, and romances for girls. Stories of hundreds of pages in length and his new cinematic techniques allowed a level of character and plot development that had been previously unimaginable.

Volumes have been written in Japan about Tezuka and the revolution he triggered. Most striking is the effect he had on young readers. None of the major artists today has escaped his influence. Many have specifically stated that they chose their career when they first read Tezuka’s comics.

Manga Shonen, the Tokyo monthly magazine that serial- ized Jungle Taitei, also played a major role in popularizing comics. It was founded in 1947 by Ken’ichi Kato, a former editor of the prewar Shonen Club who was purged from his job by Occupation forces in the belief that that magazine had been militaristic. Manga Shonen only lasted until 1955, but it was a remarkable experiment in that it was one of the first


76. After being transported into the past by a time machine, Atom and his surrogate father, Dr. Ochanomizu, are attacked by a dinosaur while fording a stream. Tetsuwan Atomu (“Mighty Atom”), Japan’s most famous science fiction comic, starred a little boy robot with superpowers and human emo- tions. In his long (and continuing) career, Atom consistently opposed war and injustice—unlike American superheroes he fought not for freedom but for peace. The story, a pioneer in a huge genre of robot characters, was serialized in Shonen from 1952 to 1968 and made into Japan’s first animated television series in 1963.




77. In the 1950s young Japanese vied with each other to have their own comic submissions ac- cepted by the magazine Manga Shorten. Fujio- Fujiko treated this theme in Manga Michi. (LEFT) “Michio Maga was stricken with an indescribable feeling of failure!” (CENTER) “Beneath the large- type name of Shigeru Saino, sandwiched among those of the other entrants and printed so small a magnifying glass was needed to see it, he finally found his own name.”

78. Soon after Osamu Tezuka moved into the ramshackle apartment building Tokiwaso in 1954 he was joined by other aspiring artists, some still in their teens, and eventually they occupied the entire second floor. Poor, but inspired by Tezuka’s ex- ample, they began submitting their work to the comic magazines. Today, many of these original residents are rich and famous. Eight of them are shown here as they appeared in 1956, in a drawing by Fujio-Fujiko (Messrs. Fujimoto and Abiko, top right). By this time, Tezuka had already left. As for Tokiwaso, it still stands, a tourist attraction slated, rumor has it, for demolition.


Japanese children’s magazines to concentrate on comics. In addition to the work of reigning professionals, it also featured the works of unknown amateurs. Boys—and some girls—from all over Japan sent in samples of short comics, and their names were published and ranked according to the excellence of their submission (fig. 77). Artists of promise were sent little metal badges; the best had their creations published and, in what must have seemed like a dream come true, were sometimes commissioned to create a serialized story.

Partly as a result of Tezuka’s success, comics came to be regarded as a creative medium accessible to anyone—unlike novels or films which required education, connections, and money. A list of contributors to Manga Shonen in the early ’50s reads like a who’s who of the comic industry today— Fujio-Fujiko, Fujio Akatsuka, Reiji Matsumoto, Hideko Mizuno, Shotaro Ishimori, and on and on—many of whom became professionals at the age of seventeen or eighteen. The list also includes Sakyo Komatsu, a top science fiction writer, Tadanori Yokoo, an internationally famous illustrator, and many of Japan’s finest designers, cameramen, actors, poets, and screenplay writers.

Demand for the new story-comics by monthly magazines in Tokyo brought Tezuka to the capital in 1954. There he moved into a rundown apartment building named Tokiwaso, which became a mecca for young artists from all over Japan who wished to follow in his footsteps. Several began living in the same building and eventually became his main com- petitors (fig. 78). The “red book” comic boom in Osaka had been short-lived, but it had helped popularize comics. The in- dustry was now centered in Tokyo.

Artists who drew serialized stories for Tokyo-based magazines in the 1950s were the elite of the industry. But there was still another group, creating the same kind of story- comics, who worked for a pittance. Their publishers, though centered in Osaka, were linked not with the “red book” com- ics but with the kashibon’ya, or professional book-lenders, who at one time were estimated to number 30,000 nationally. These pay libraries, like kami-shibai, were a response to a de- mand for inexpensive entertainment and lent both books and comics for a small fee according to the number of days bor- rowed. Many comics were created exclusively for the pay libraries, taking the form of “books” and monthly “magazines,” notably Kage (“Shadow”; fig. 79) and Machi (“City”). Both the comic books and comic magazines were about 150 pages long with stitched bindings and hard covers. They had to withstand the readings of hundreds of people.

The artists who cartooned for the pay-library market, like their counterparts in the children’s magazines, made use of the cinematic techniques and novelistic plots coming into vogue. Increasingly, their readership was older, often in- cluding high school students and young factory workers. Art- ists like Takao Saito, Masaaki Sato, and Yoshihiro Tatsumi dropped the Disney-style of drawing that was popular in the children’s magazines and adopted a more serious, graphic ap- proach to depict more adult and action-oriented themes. Appropriately, they even gave their comics a new

name—gekiga, or “drama pictures.” With the advent of television, many kami-shibai artists who lost their livelihoods started drawing gekiga, bringing to that genre new talent and narrative skills.

The incredible popularity of story-comics, whether created by the Tezuka camp of artists or by those working for the pay-library market, led Tokyo-based publishers to decrease the amount of text in most monthly children’s magazines, add more pages, and increase their size so as to better display the artwork. This was not enough. By the end of the 1950s the Japanese economy was beginning its explosive growth. Young people had spending money, and they wanted more comics.

In 1959 Kodansha, one of the largest book publishers in Japan, jolted the industry by issuing Shonen Magazine, the first weekly wholly devoted to comics. It soon ballooned into a 300-page monster. Other publishers quickly followed suit, and within a few years seven weekly comic magazines with the same basic format—five for boys and two for girls—engulfed the industry. Meanwhile, since people could afford to buy comics and no longer needed to borrow them, the pay-library market collapsed (today there are only around 2,000 lenders left), and its many talented and produc- tive artists entered the mainstream of the industry. Usually this involved their coming to live in Tokyo.

As artists Fujio-Fujiko have noted, the changeover from a monthly to weekly format was as traumatic for artists as the switch from silent movies to “talkies” had been for actors. It meant that artists had four times as much work to do as before, and only a quarter of the time between deadlines. Their entire lives had to be reordered.

From that point on, the escalator went through the ceiling. In 1966 the weekly circulation of Shonen Magazine topped 1 million; in 1978 Shonen Jump and Shonen Champion passed the 2-million mark; and in December 1984 Shonen Jump sold over 4 million copies in one week.

By the mid-1960s the industry had assumed its present configuration. It was predominantly located in Tokyo. Television and comics were firmly intertwined in a symbiotic relationship. Major book publishers supported themselves with sales of comics, first serialized in magazines and then compiled into series of paperbacks. Meanwhile the average age of the readership was steadily rising, resulting in the ap- pearance of comics for adults. Women had finally entered the field in force as artists for girls’ comics, displacing men with the convincing argument that they better understood female psychology.

While the development of comic books in the United States faltered, and sales shriveled, Japan gave birth to a Godzilla. But the explosion of the industry did not occur without a sacrifice. The color printing that was so common before the war all but disappeared. Political and editorial cartoons were virtually destroyed by politics, ideology, and later, apathy. Humor magazines featuring short, sophisticated comics and cartoons in the tradition of the British Punch or the American New Yorker were driven out of business, and the artists of this genre were demoted to the role of filling in the spaces be- tween the long story-comics in comic magazines.

79. Kage (“Shadow”), a popular hardcover magazine for pay libraries, published from 1956 to 1966. The cover is by Yoshihiro Tatsumi, the first person to coin the word gekiga, or “drama pic- tures,” as distinct from manga, or “comics.”


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