Schodt enjoyed a close relationship with Osamu Tezuka, the “God of Manga” and translated Astro Boy for US publication in 2002, as well as the 900+ page manga biography, The Osamu Tezuka Story, in 2016. His other scholarly works include Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga (1996), and The Astro Boy Essays: Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom, and the Manga/Anime Revolution (2007).
Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC) has just announced this year’s winner of the Tom Spurgeon Award: pioneering manga scholar and translator Frederik L. Schodt.The award was introduced last year to honor those who have made substantial contributions to the field of comics, but are not primarily cartoonists.
“Frederik Schodt’s 1983 book Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics was the first significant book to introduce English speakers to Japanese comics,” says Lucy Shelton Caswell, CXC co-founder and the founding curator of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. “He also made major contributions to the field through his translations into English of such works as Astro Boy by Tezuka, Ghost in the Shell by Shirow and The Rose of Versailles by Ikeda.”
I can’t think of a better winner for this award than Schodt, and can testify myself to the crucial work Schodt did when manga was an obscure thing chattered about from one or two people and not something that sells thousands and thousands of volumes a month in chain stores around America. Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics was absolutely the first serious work in English and was nearly the only resource for those trying to grasp the significance of this vast field of comics.
Other translations include Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama’s 1931 The Four Immigrants Manga, Osamu Tezuka’s Phoenix (with Dadakai and Jared Cook) and Yoshiyuki Tomino’s Mobile Suit Gundam trilogy of novels. In recent years, along with Beth Cary, he has worked on translating collections of animator Hayao Miyazaki’s writings.
“The current boom in readership of all varieties of comics is indebted in part to the influx of young readers who were introduced to comics via manga,” says Caitlin McGurk, chair of CXC’s award committee. “This is traceable to Schodt’s efforts in introducing English speakers to Japanese comics.”
“I have spent most of my life doing work related to currents of thought flowing between Japan and North America,” says Schodt, “With a particular interest in manga, writing about them, doing translations of what I consider worthy works, giving talks on manga, and interpreting for Japanese and North American artists.”
Schodt will be at CXC in person to receive the award, along with a distinguished list of other guests. The festival, which aims to be an international showcase for the best of cartoon art in all its forms, will be held October 6th to 9th, at various locations in Columbus, OH. It’s the first time the festival has been held in person since 2019.