Picture Post

I’ve had some wonderful pictures in my mailbox recently. My fellow Tezuka fans have kindly sent me their photos of Tezuka merchandise, including The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, snapped in stores around the world, so I thought I’d share a couple of them.

photo © Marc Hairston

Here’s an amazing Tezuka chess set. Of course, the King/Queen pairs are Atom and Uran, and Leo and Lyre. I’m guessing Sapphire and Black Jack are the knights and Higeoyaji and Ochanomizu the bishops, with Magma and Devil Garon as the rooks. Hyotantsugi makes a terrific pawn. (Spider would have been great too.) There is also a frosted crystal version of this set.

photo © Frederik L. Schodt

This shows my book on sale in the Osamu Tezuka corner in Kinokuniya’s San Francisco bookstore. It gave me such a thrill to see it there alongside Frederik L. Schodt’s Astro Boy Essays and Naoki Urusawa’s Pluto. Even better, there’s now a growing body of work about and by Tezuka in English. It hasn’t yet reached a large enough critical mass that he’s assimilated into the mainstream of our visual culture, in the way Hayao Miyazaki has been: but as public awareness of his work grows, I hope that the English-speaking world will soon recognise Tezuka as the global genius he was.

The picture below was taken in the heart of London last week. It shows the window display at one of our major art supply stores, Cowling and Wilcox. Its customers are mostly design and advertising professionals, who will appreciate Tezuka’s graphic flair and inventiveness. (Plundering anime, manga and games for style tips and icons is as common among British designers as any others.)

photo © Joe Curzon

At the British Museum’s family comic-making workshops we played a game involving sorting Japanese images into date order. One of the images we use is of Astro Boy/Atom, and most groups find that one hard to date precisely unless they know the character’s history. The image is iconic in its simplicity, retro yet modern, innocent and ironic at the same time – a half-naked, childlike human creation with the power to save or destroy its makers. For me he exemplifies the power of Tezuka’s work, which is full of energy and passion for life, yet with a distrust of easy answers and a deep vein of pessimism.

As more and more people across the world become aware of the power of Tezuka’s imagery, maybe his messages will get through as well.

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