God of Comics
Osamu Tezuka and the Creation of Post-World War II Manga
by Natsu Onoda Power
This book examines the career of cartoonist who brought manga to mainstream audiences.
Cartoonist Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989) is the single most important figure in Japanese post-World War II comics. During his four-decade career, Tezuka published more than 150,000 pages of comics, produced animation films, wrote essays and short fiction, and earned a Ph.D. in medicine. Natsu Onoda Power’s God of Comics: Osamu Tezuka and the Creation of Post-World War II Manga (University Press of Mississippi) is one of the first English-language studies of the famed Japanese cartoonist’s entire body of work.
The book chronicles his life and works, contextualizing his works both in the cultural climate of the times and the history of Japanese comics. Revered as the “God of Comics,” Tezuka created the character Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom in Japan) and is best known for establishing story comics as the mainstream genre in the Japanese comic book industry.
A major emphasis in Onoda Power’s work is Tezuka’s use of intertextuality. An artist with broad interests and great intellectual curiosity, Tezuka’s works are filled with quotations from other texts and cultural products, such as film, theater, opera, and literature. Often, these quoted texts and images bring with them a world of meanings, enriching the narrative.
Tezuka also used stock characters and recurrent visual jokes as a way of creating a coherent world that encompasses all of his works. Readers grow familiar with characters and jokes, developing intimate relationships with Tezuka’s world.
God of Comics provides a challenging understanding of the comics universe that Tezuka created, establishing him as one of the world’s foremost cartoonists. The book includes close analysis of Tezuka’s lesser-known works, some of which have never been translated into English, and features over 50 illustrations by Tezuka.
Read an excerpt from Natsu Onoda Power's God of Comics: Osamu Tezuka and the Creation of Post-World War II Manga hosted by the Smithsonian Freer and Sackler Galleris' 2009 Tezuka Retrospective
Onoda Power, Natsu. 2009. God of Comics: Osamu Tezuka and the Creation of Post-World War II Manga. Jackson, MI: University Press of Mississippi.