Shigeru Mizuki, one of the all time great cartoonists of Japan (and the world) has passed away at age 93. Mizuki-sensei popularized the “yokai” monster genre with GeGeGe No Kitaro (to be reprinted early ext year by D&Q), as well as his award winningg Showa history of Japan. His latest work in the US is Mizuki’s Hitler.
Mizuki was born in 1922 and grew up in a small coastal village. As a child he befriended an older woman who told him stories about yōkai, sowing the seeds for his later work. He was drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army in 1942 and sent to Papua, New Guinea. In Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths he tells of the day-to-day trials of soldiers as well as the horrific incompetence of their leaders: Tn that manga, the unit survives an attack, but because their deaths have already been announced, their commander tells them to go on a suicide mission and not to return alive. The book is fictionalized but based on his own experiences; he lost an arm to an Allied bomb, and later in life he said he was the only survivor of his unit and was ordered to die by his commanders.
Whether drawing imagined monsters or the true horror of human beings, Mizuki was a true master of the form, a great storyteller whose art and writing presented no impediment to the reader, only the flow of images and words.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.