eyebot

The revival of the comic sections in Japanese children's magazines started soon after the war, but their popularity soared because of one man: Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka just about single-handedly created the entire Japanese comic book industry; he started selling stories in 1947 while still in medical school, and by 1953 was publishing his own comics magazines. Frederick Schodt, in his excellent book "Manga! Manga!" (Kodansha International, 1983), refers to Tezuka as "an example of how one talented individual, born at the right time, can profoundly change the field he decides to work in." It was due to the popularity of Tezuka's stories that people clamored for more comics.

Tezuka's comics covered a wide range of subjects: adventure, romance, "slice-of-life," sports, and erotica. The more mature subjects increased the audience to include adults. He hired a battery of assistants, many of whom went on to create their own comics and hire their own assistants. They all shared Tezuka's artistic style, which was influenced by Disney and Fleisher animation, as well as Japanese brush painting combined with story-telling influenced by French and German films he'd seen as a schoolboy.

Tezuka took that diverse and international source of inspiration, created his own style, and used it with versatility. Much of Osamu Tezuka's works have been reprinted in book form, in over 400 volumes. His most popular creation was Tetsuwan Atom (The Mighty Atom) and was eventually animated by Tezuka and translated into English as Astro Boy. It was the beginning of anime—Japanese animation—which Dr. Tezuka called "Japan's supreme goodwill ambassador." Indeed, most people outside Japan get acquainted with anime before seeing the source material in manga.

Sports
from Manga! Manga! the world
of Japanese comics

by Frederick L. Schodt (109K)

The McCarthyist censorship that nearly killed the U.S. comic book industry happened differently in Japan and might very well be the main reason comics are more successful in Japan than North America. Japanese censorship in the 1950s targeted erotic magazines rather than comics (erotic comics, however, were affected; Japan looked upon comics as a medium, not a genre). By the 1960s, Japan's fledgling comic book industry was gigantic. It now comprises one-quarter of the books and magazines printed in Japan, a billion copies per year—which, incidentally, was the size of the U.S. comic book industry before a Senate sub-committee investigated comics.

Mecha
from Manga! Manga! the world of Japanese comics
by Frederick L. Schodt (94K)
Japanese and Chinese comics are paced faster than European, Indian, North and South American comics. A 300-page manga takes about 20 minutes to read. That comes to about four seconds per page! Compare that to the 15 minutes it takes to read a 22-page Marvel comic, or the half-hour it takes to read most 48-page European comics.
Back Up Next Talk!