A belated start to November here begins with a guest contribution from London based designer and illustrator John Rowley. John got in touch recently to suggest a feature on “The godfather of anime” Osamu Tezuka and in particular his Phoenix series, which is less well known than Tezuka’s famous “Astro Boy” creation.
John supplied me with several scans taken from the various volumes, I selected the most abstract of those and posted above, really beautiful pen and ink work… here then are John’s notes:
Osamu Tezuka is considered ‘the god of manga’, an accolade he deserves for the quality of his work and the volume of it. During his career he drew over 150,000 pages. He is most famous for his work ‘Astro Boy’ outside of Japan but within Japan he is more famous for creating Jungle Taitei (Jungle Emperor) which was the basis for the Disney animation ‘The Lion King’ – so much so that many would say that Tezuka should have sued Disney. But Tezuka was very much a fan of Disney and indeed is considered the Walt Disney of Japan so he was probably flattered and certainly did not need the money. Tezuka’s manga started out very simplistic and heavily inspired by American cartoons and comics but became more and more sophisticated. He helped many aspiring manga artists and one of them was Yoshihiro Tatsumi who is widely credited for starting the Gekiga style of alternative comics in Japan.
“Gekiga is Japanese for ‘dramatic pictures’ and was a movement that seeked to address the growing (literally) audience in Japan for adult manga. Apart from having adult themes Gekiga is also defined by it’s narrative style which draws heavily on film. For example a Gekiga manga may well have no text for many frames or images, using pictures to create pace and atmosphere rather then to support the text needed for the characters to tell the story. Tezuki’s 12 volume work ‘Hi No Tori’ or ‘Phoenix’ was very dear to his heart and a hugely ambitious project:
Phoenix (火の鳥 Hi no Tori) is a manga series by Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka considered Phoenix his “life’s work”; it consists of 12 books, each of which tells a separate, self-contained story and takes place in a different era. The cycle remains unfinished after Tezuka’s death.
Top: Front Cover Art
2nd Top: Taken from Phoenix Volume 4: Karma
3rd Top: Taken from Phoenix Volume 5: Resurrection
4th Top: ‘Phoenix – Resurrection Volume 5’ (it’s the last panel of the book)
5th Top: From Phoenix Volume 5: Ressurection
bottom: From Phoenix Volume 2: Future “When I first discovered Phoenix and was half way through the first volume I was walking home very near my flat when I saw a fragment of manga page on the street. I was surprised to see that it was one of the pages of the same volume I was reading. It had been ripped from the book and also cut in half. I hurried home wondering how this could have happened to my Manga – Phoenix was very hard to get even in London at that time as the English versions had only recently been released and in fact some of the series had not yet been released and all were printed outside the UK. I had purchased my copy from the Canadian Amazon store online. When I got home I found that my copy was unharmed. A strange coincidence but one that fits Phoenix very well with it’s themes of resurrection, time shifts, and interconnecting lives through space and time. This image is cropped from fragment I found.
Phoenix is available in various volumes and formats via Amazon.com check it out: http://amzn.to/c5ZiHf