Those Brazilians know how to party, and today they’re throwing a party for the God of Manga, Osamu Tezuka. Blogs, vlogs, podcasts and websites are celebrating the life and work of the man who revolutionised Japanese popular culture in the postwar years and went on to create an astonishingly inventive body of work.
There are a number of excellent sites devoted to the man and his work in various languages. His own company, Tezuka Productions, maintains a fascinating bilingual site with links to publishers and distributors worldwide. TezukaInEnglish.com is a vital resource, providing links to his work in many different translations as well as intelligent, passionate research and discussion from Tezuka fans.
His work is also featured on many other sites, testimony to the range and depth of his intellectual curiosity. Cybernetic Zoo records his passion for quirky robots. He designed album sleeves for artists, including one for his longtime collaborator Isao Tomita‘s electroclassic “The Firebird”. His graphic skills were turned to many uses, like this fabulous range of fire safety posters. He worked on exhibit design, creating a character for the Suntory Whisky Museum and a host of corporate and municipal mascots, like Hanazukin-chan, mascot of the 1990 International Garden and Greenery Expo.
He inspires creative minds across many disciplines and cultures. An exhibition at the Royal College of Surgeons of England highlighted his influence on medical technology. Choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui premiered his dance work TeZukA at Sadler’s Wells this year. Kenji Yanobe takes inspiration from Tetsuwan Atom to create a series of constantly evolving works in “the ruins of the future”.
Yanobe’s work at the Osaka World Expo 70 site provides a further link. Tezuka was on the organising committee for the Expo and made many contributions to its design. And there’s another, deeper tie to Tezuka’s own inspirations and history: Japanese artist Taro Okamoto, whose centenary we celebrate this year, and who designed the Tower of the Sun for Expo 70, was the son of Ippei Okamoto, the mangaka, essayist and man about town who was one of Tezuka’s early influences. Expo 70 links one of the founding fathers of 20th-century manga with the man who revitalised manga after World War II and the Allied Occupation, and with two of Japan’s leading contemporary artists.
I had my own ‘Tezuka Day’ celebration back in 2009 when my book The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga was published. Writing that book was one of the best experiences of my life; not only did I get up every morning and go to work with a genius, but I met so many fascinating, creative and inspiring people, all influenced by this most remarkable man.
You’ll find many ways to celebrate Tezuka Day. I’d suggest reading one of his manga – a few now available in translation, many more to come – or watching some of his animation. Happy Tezuka Day!