From the album — Professional Music By Nightwalker —1999
Robert Pollard has created a universe. You are free to come in. It’s expansive and there is probably a world here that you will like. But there are some places in Uncle Bob’s universe that aren’t meant for the casual tourist. Worlds of weird. This album is one of those worlds.
The fans of this blog are first and foremost fans of these artists, and I’m honored to gather up their back pages and show them to you again in more-or-less chronological order.
I’d also like…
I’m a fan of this blog. Seeing these artists’ work chronologically is really fascinating to me. I like seeing the story of an artists development. I like putting the pieces into context. It’s inspiring and I’ve learned a lot too.
I just finished reading Ode to Kirihito. It is my first proper introduction to Tezuka's work (discounting a short tryst with Black Jack). Where would you suggest I go from here? His bibliography is pretty vast.
You’re right that it’s big - so huge, in fact, there’s whole continents of Tezuka, which can be identified by the audience he’s chasing.
Ode to Kirihito, for example, was aimed at an older audience, having been serialized in the venerable Big Comic (the same magazine as Golgo 13). If you’re interested in continuing in that direction — and you don’t mind digital comics — I would *strongly* recommend you look into his Phoenix series, specifically the fourth of Viz’s English releases, Karma. It was drawn around the same time as Ode to Kirihito, and serialized in COM, which was Tezuka’s short-lived attempt to produce his own magazine of mature and experimental comics.
Phoenix was the big showpiece, an effort to create a series of standalone-yet-related serials that would encompass all the thunder of the human condition, spanning the 3rd through 35th centuries. Karma is probably the best of those - if not Tezuka’s magnum opus full stop, it’s definitely the one where he most explicitly lays down what he’s ‘about’ as an artist: intense, holistic empathy, with humanity, in all its beauty and cruelty, as but one facet of this world’s being. He also does it lush Disney licks all over, which I personally find more pleasing than his ‘serious’ look.
Actually, on the whole (and notwithstanding what I just wrote) I tend to prefer Tezuka when he’s writing for kids; Vertical put out a two-book edition of Princess Knight, his trendsetting ’50s/’60s shōjo manga, which is an absolute riot of frenzied fairy story activity, the comics equivalent of a child running back and forth screaming, hands over their head. On the other hand, one of my favorite manga releases of last year was DMP’s one-volume edition of Unico, which was an all-color manga Tezuka did in the late ’70s, ostensibly to help launch a new shōjo magazine from the cutemasters at Sanrio, though the result is actually a pretty brutal (albeit candy-hued) barrage of melancholy - an aging man’s memento mori as delivered by a marketable cartoon horse.
Still, if you want ‘serious’ Tezuka, Vertical has a lot of options. MW is maybe the closest thing to Ode to Kirihito, having been serialized in the same magazine toward the end of the ’70s; there’s a similarly agonized Christian texture to its pulp, though it’s kind of bloated and haphazard at times. Message to Adolf, a historical thriller is where a lot of readers first discovered Tezuka, and the two-volume hardcover is really nice. I prefer splitting the difference with Dororo, an eccentric, bloody ’60s swordsman fantasy (fine monster designs) or 1970’s magnificently bizarre Apollo’s Song, a boys’ sexual education comic transformed into a berserk fusion of political thriller, time-travel fantasy, erotic SF, and lamentation over the atrocities of the 20th century.
Also, Astro Boy vol. 3 is the one with the story that was remade as Pluto. Glad to be of service!