That Old East Wind

Dash Shaw has a fascinating take on the new Tezuka book from Abrams and the DVD it contains. His thoughts on “the God of Manga’s” superhuman work-ethic are sobering. (I’m looking forward to getting the book myself, but it’s the Christmas/Chanukah season, so I’m not allowed to buy it just in case).

Coincidentally, over at HU, Stephanie Folse is re-reading the original Elfquest series, reminding me of a time in the early ’80s when the Tezuka fan club among working American comics professionals numbered in the single digits—and most definitely included both Wendy Pini and myself.

Tezuka was, for many years, my favorite cartoonist. I had a bookcase filled with untranslated Tezuka that I studied like the Torah for hours on end. Sometimes I’d close my eyes, reach for a random volume, flip to a random page, and open my eyes again to find a beautiful, inventive, and unique page waiting for me.

Tezuka famously drew well over a hundred thousand pages of comics over the course of forty years. I mentioned this in a little tribute to Tezuka in Zot! in the mid-’80s. Later, one of my readers visited Japan and showed the God of Manga my little comic. His only message back to me was to emphasize “quality over quantity.”

Watching younger cartoonists discover Tezuka for the first time over the last couple of decades has been quietly satisfying. In some ways, I feel like Shaw’s generation of innovators is ready to consider the whole man in a way mine was rarely ready or willing to.

Discussion (10)¬

  1. Severin says:

    I have a friend who used Tezuka’s work for his library science thesis, and I personally turned to Tezuka comics many times while pursuing my degree in animation. The vast number of his comics printed in english are a blessing.

  2. Ben V says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one not allowed to buy myself stuff this time of year, haha!

  3. John says:

    I must admit that I’ve never actually read any Tezuka… what would you recommend I begin with?

  4. cat says:

    That was a great writeup! Saw this doc at my good friend Bryan Stone’s house the day his copy of the book arrived months ago. We’ve been sharing his collection of Tezuka over the past two years. Dash is right. That doc DID haunt me for a long time…

  5. Max West says:

    I remember seeing some of Tezuka’s anime while I was over in Italy such as Blue Blink, the last one he did around the time of his death. In fact, he died during its production and the series was completed according to his instructions.

    It’s a shame more of his anime and manga titles haven’t been brought here to the USA.

  6. Bluus says:

    I’ve been a big Tezuka fan for a long time, his art has a charm and warmth to it that can be hard to find and the stories themselves are wondrous and deep. I wish I had the chance to own more of his work, as it is I only have a small handful of his manga.

  7. I’m definitely checking out Dororo to dip my toes in the Tezuka waters—thanks!

  8. Jacob Martin says:

    I have the book with the DVD this screenshot is from. The end left me utterly broken into tears and brutalised, because I knew his dream to work for another 40 years was never to be.

    I once talked on radio with the Australian gonzo journalist John Safran about Tezuka’s Buddha series, since it was on his religion and politics show Sunday Night Safran. It was one of the prime experiences of my not so long life so far.

    The tragedy I think of when I think of Tezuka is that I was born the year after he died, utterly invalidating my chances of ever meeting him. I always thought of Shogo from Apollo’s Song as the Japanese Rorsharch from Watchmen – there’s an old joke with an online friend I have that if Shogo and Rorsharch ever met in a bar, because of Rorsharch’s prejudices against the Japanese, no ice would be broken, only thumbs.

    There’s just this sense of epicness, no, that’s too overused a word, I guess the mood provoked by Tezuka can only be described by musical feelings, like the Conan The Barbarian movie score by Basil Poledouris and how it provokes sadness at times, and yet utter awe at other times.