Thursday, December 24, 2009

The History of Manga, Part 10




Merry Christmas to All!


Again, we run into the question of what manga is. Obviously, we have dedicated manga magazines as early as the 1870's, but they're based on western designs, and are often just political cartoons. Granted, by 1910 they're multi-panel (as opposed to simple one-panel editorial cartoons), with dialog and a story, but there's a disconnect between the early "manga as caricature" and the panel strip titles like "Norakuro" (1931) and "Mysterious Clover" (1934). There's also a tendency to lump shonen and shojo magazines together. Gekkan Bijutsu included Shonen Kurabu (Boy's Club) in along with the children's titles like Kodomo no Kuni and Kodomo no Tomo (Child's Country and Child's Friend; the latter of which came from Rakuten Kitazawa, of Tokyo Puck fame) in their time line of illustrated girl's and women's magazines.

The main point, though, is that there wasn't a vacuum. Comics in one form or another were appearing in magazines and newspapers from the 1870's up to 1908, when we have the creation of Shojo no Tomo. Then, we have the illustrators like Takei Takeo and Takehisa Yumeji working in Shojo no Tomo and the other girl's magazines, and in the children's manga magazine Kodomo Puck (1924) up until Tezuka's arrival in 1946. However, there was something of a gap between the late 1930's and 1946. The two main artists doing consistent panel stories that I can find right now were Katsudi and Suiho Tagawa, and both of them were knocked out of print during WW II because of the military decree against entertainment publications.

When the war ended, artists stepped back in to fill the void. Machiko Hasegawa (who trained under Suiho Tagawa, and I'll discuss him more in part 11) also started her "Sazae-san" in 1946 in the local Kyushu newspaper. Toshiko Ueda ("Fuichin-san", who trained under Katsudi) came in with "Boku-chan" in the newly-formed Shojo Book magazine in 1951.

But, it's not until Tezuka starts running "Shin Takarajima" in 1947 that we start seeing what we truly recognize as "modern-day manga" becoming more common - i.e. - longer story-driven art that isn't social satire and isn't yonkoma. Based on the wiki entry, we see from him, "Tuberculosis" (1948), "The Moony Man" (1948), "Lost World" (1948), "Metropolis" (1949), "Jungle Taitei" (1950-1954, AKA "Kimba"), "Captain ATOM" (1951-2) and "Tetsuwan Atomu" (1952-68) - all appearing in established magazines such as Shojo no Tomo, as well as the new boy's publication - Manga Shonen. In order to meet his deadlines, Tezuka starts hiring assistants and that's where we see him working from Tokiwa Manor from 1953 to 1954. Following this, at least half of his assistants go on to be major manga artists themselves, most notably Shotaro Ishinomori (Cyborg 009), Fujio Fujiko (Doraemon) and Fujio Akatsuka (Tensai Bakabon). While there are other manga artists that show up in the 50's and 60's, many of them at a minimum were at least influenced by the manga they read from Tezuka. The big hitters include Leiji Matsumoto (1953) ("Captain Harlock"), Mitsuteru Yokoyama (1954 or '55, "Tetsujin 28-go"), Shigeru Mizuki (1957) ("Gegege no Kitaro"), Chiba Tetsuya (1958) ("Ashita no Joe") and Monkey Punch (1962) ("Lupin III"). (Note: the dates are for when they debuted. The titles in quotes are their big hits for identification purposes only.)

I'm not belittling Tezuka's contributions to manga as we know it now. I certainly respect both the man himself and body of work he produced. It's undeniable that he reshaped "caricature manga" into "story-driven manga", started up a new "manga boom", and broke the trend for simple humor, social and political commentary-only strips. But, it's equally important to look at the early history of shojo magazines to see how we got where we are today. Or, rather, how we got up to 1954. That's when new magazines take over:

1954: Nakayoshi (girl's monthly from Kodansha).
1955: Ribon (girls' monthly from Shueisha).
1956: Weekly Shincho.
1956: Weekly Manga Times (adult weekly from Houbunsha).
1959: Shogakukan starts its Weekly Shonen Sunday (3-17).
1959: Kodansha follows with Weekly Shonen Magazine (3-17).
1968: Shueisha launched Weekly Shonen Jump.
1969: Akita starts up Weekly Shonen Champion.

Tezuka and the Tokiwa crew move to Shonen Sunday, and Mizuki and Chiba go to Shonen Magazine. The rest of the story is then told by the DNA exhibit that ran at the Kawasaki City museum.

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