Manga Makers:
Osamu Tezuka
Nov. 3, 1928 - Feb. 9, 1989

Manga Makers -- Manga! Manga! Page
Oniko Goes To Japan Main Page

Here's a list of just some of Tezuka's most famous works:


Hi no Tori

Jungle Emperor
(a.k.a "Kimba, the White Lion")

Mighty Atom
(a.k.a "Astro Boy")

Ribon no Kishi
(a.k.a The Ribbon Knight)

And here's one of my favorites:

Not enough can ever be said about Osamu Tezuka's influence on the modern culture of comic books in Japan; this is reflected in the title bestowed upon him of manga no kami... literally, the "God of comics". Before Tezuka, comics were just for young boys and girls -- mostly boys -- and featured short and simple stories and art; after Tezuka, comics are now read by everyone of every age and gender, with a range of stories and illustration that make them rival novels and movies as entertainment, art form, and mode of expression.
Tezuka first started to work in the comics industry at the age of seventeen, drawing a comic strip for a newspaper; a year later he published his first full-length manga book, Shintakarajima, "New Treasure Island", based on a story by Shichima Sakai. With common manga stories running just around forty pages, this 200-page epic caught readers by surprise; a fan of American animation, Tezuka's page and panels layouts incorporated a dynamic use of layout and "camera angles" that brought a sense of depth, space, and movement to the book that comics had never displayed before. Many fans said that reading the book was like watching a movie; and, at a time after World War II when many people could barely afford to buy food, this book was said to have sold around 400,000 copies.
A large part of Tezuka's success is likely due to the fact that he treated his audience with respect: instead of dumbing-down his comic book stories, he used them as a platform to educate. To my mind, a second large reason for his success was that he had very ecletic interests in life and never hesitated to share these interests with his readers, expertly generating his own sense of wonder and excitement in his audience and creating new genres of story that never existed in comics before. He adapted English classics such as "Faust" and "Crime and Punishment" to comic book form for his Japanese readers; and, after completing his degree in Western medicine, Tezuka created a series of stories that can only be described as science-fiction surgery... called "Blackjack", the series continues to sell well in both Japan and America in comic books and animation.
Tezuka likely was also the first manga creator to introduce philosophical and religious topics to popular comics. Oh, sure... temples probably had comics featuring their origins before him, and independent manga creators probably created probably produced some highly thought provocking stories before him, but when Tezuka published stories like this he did it in the nationally sold weekly manga magazines. He produced a series of comic books that told the story of the Buddha, appropriately called "Buddha", and when he died his animation company was busy producing a series of animated Bible stories for the Vatican and Italian television.
Which points up another thing that he pioneered... Japanese animation, something that's now hard to imagine the country without. Always a fan of Disney, after Tezuka became well off from his comics related income he founded his own animation company, Mushi Productions... "Bug" Productions [he had been an avid bug collector in his youth]. Naturally, he set about producing animated versions of his own comics. In 1963, he produced Japan's first animated television series, Tetsuwan Atom, "Mighty Atom" [literally "Iron Man Atom"]... and in 1965 he produced the country's first color animated television series, Jungle Taitei, "Jungle Emperor". Both of these series were soon released to American television, re-named as "Astro Boy" and "Kimba, the White Lion"; and most of the American children who loved these series never realized that they originated in Japan.
Dubbed "The Human Dream Factory" by manga authority Frederick Schodt, Tezuka produced an estimated 150,000 pages of comic book art, 21 animated series, and 500 individual manga and animation stories. To say he created the modern comic book and animation culture of Japan would not be an understatement. When he died in 1989, his passing was mourned by the country nationwide... he was, indeed, Kami no Manga: the God of Comics.

Manga Makers - Manga! Manga! - Back to Oniko Goes to Japan - Back to Top!

All illustrations on this page [except the one of Osamu Tezuka above] are copyright (c)2002 Garth Haslam, and shouldn't be used without his permission. The image of Osamu Tezuka was drawn by the artist himself, and published in 1951 in the first installment of Tetsuwan Atom, "Mighty Atom". Contact Garth by Clicking Here!