History of Manga, 1950-1960 AD

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   Kamishibai
   Books
   Magazines
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   General Comments

  

Kamishibai

With the advent of TV in Japan, kamishibai essentially fades into obscurity.  It does continue to make some appearances in schools, libraries, and the Kyoto Manga Museum.

  

Books

Rental books continue to act as a major market for manga artists like Monkey Punch and Yoshihiro Tatsumi (below) at the beginning of the decade, but they too eventually disappear by the mid-50's.

  

Magazines

Tezuka moves to an artist's community just west of Ikebukuro, in Tokyo, where he sets up camp in a boarding house named Tokiwa-sou from 1953 to 54.  He's taken on so many contracts that he needs a cadre of assistants to make his deadlines, and 10 of them move in with him.  He's also regularly visited by a number of other manga artists.  The "heroes of Tokiwa-Sou" include powerhouses Shotaro Ishinomori ("Cyborg 009"), Fujio Akatsuka (Tensai Bakabon) and duo Fujio Fujiko (AKA: Fujio A and Fujio F) ("Doraemon", "Smiling Salesman").  Tezuka runs several of his manga in Shojo no Tomo, Shonen Club and Manga Shonen.

Kenichi Kato continues publishing Manga Shonen up until 1955.  His artists include Ishinomori, Tezuka and Machiko Hasegawa.  Kato's primary influence is to give new artists a break in entering the industry.  After Manga Shonen folded, Kato returned to Kodansha, Co., where he rose up the ranks.  In 1959, he launches Weekly Shonen Magazine.

Several weekly magazines start and fold in the first half of the '50s.  Weekly Shonen Sunday magazine starts at just about the same time Weekly Shonen Magazine does in 1959, touching off a fierce rivalry that lasts for decades.  Both magazines jockey to have Tezuka and other major players on staff, while also creating all new manga story types (i.e. - fishing, baseball, etc.) (Shonen Sunday/Shonen Magazine DNA.)

Monthly shojo magazine Nakayoshi starts in 1954, and Ribon follows suit in 1955.

Shojo no Tomo closes its doors in 1955, after 47 years, in the face of increasing competition from the weekly magazines.

Makoto Takahashi, AKA: Macoto, debuts in Shojo magazine, and proceeds to develop the big, glittery-eyed style that characterizes shojo (girls) manga here on after.  (Macoto entry.)

The word "manga" has now taken on the reputation of "comics for children".  In revolt, Yoshihiro Tatsumi coins the term "Gekiga" (dramatic pictures) in 1957.  (Yoshihiro Tatsumi entry.)

Shotaro Ishinomori, and "Angel, 2nd Class", from Authentic Account: Manga Shonen, used for review purposes only. Early cover of Weekly Shonen Magazine, from Authentic Account: Manga Shonen, used for review purposes only. Fujio Akatsuka and assistant. Osamu Tezuka and "Mysterious Journey", from Authentic Account: Manga Shonen, used for review purposes only.

  

Newspapers

The newspapers continue to run panel strips, but magazines are the real market for manga from now on.

  

General Comments

We start seeing two central outlets for manga now - books and magazines.  While the newspapers continue to run editorial cartoons and some yonkoma manga, the volume of output is negligible.  On the other hand, with the disappearance of rental books, we don't see much in the way of "direct to book" manga either.  That is, the manga that shows up in book form from the 60's on out generally consists of collections of art that first ran in the magazines; i.e. - "tankobon".  Note that tankobon also refers to novels that are standalone books rather than part of a series.  Magazines are either weekly or monthly, general interest or specialized, magazine-like (100 pages) or phonebook-like (1000 pages), and/or age- and gender specific.  No one magazine remains dominant for more than a few years at a time.  For boys, in 2010, Weekly Shonen Jump is closely followed by Weekly Shonen Sunday and Weekly Shonen Magazine.  For girls, the monthlies Nakayoshi and Ribon are at the top. From 1959 to 1970, for boy's weeklies, Sunday traded off with Magazine for the top two boy's spots.

Now, the question you should be asking yourself is "why was kamishibai included in this history"?  The answer is that kamishibai was a early form of story telling that combined voice overs with illustrations, as kind of a blend of manga and crude anime.  Additionally, manga artists like Goseki Kojima (Lone Wolf and Cub) and Shigeru Mizuki (Gegege no Kitaro) either got their start painting kamishibai illustrations, or did kamishibai for additional income.  On top of this, from the 1900's on up, kamishibai, magazine illustration and newspaper cartoons coexisted, allowing the influence of each to flow into the other two media.  Kamishibai hasn't completely died off - it is performed regularly at the Kyoto Manga Museum, and at some western elementary schools.

As shown here, the word "manga" started out as an alternative form of woodblock prints (hanga) arising from ukiyo-e, beginning in the 1790's.  In the late 1890's, certain editorial cartoonists, including Rakuten, treat "manga" to mean "caricature" in the sense of western-style political cartoons.  During the 1920's and 30's, children's artists work primarily in yonkoma and short gag collection formats to turn "manga" to single topic jokes.  In 1947, Tezuka hits the big time with "Shin-Takarajima", and manga becomes "story-driven comics".  But, by the mid-1950's, the constant outflow of work in girl's and boy's magazines twists "manga" to mean "comics for kids".  Presently, "manga" is interchangeable with "comics", but there is still a bias in Japanese adults that when you become an adult, you stop reading comics.

  

  

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