Shigeru Mizuki is one of the most famous and important mangakas ever, but it seems he is totally unknown outside Japan. I love the manga called Kappa no Sanpei from Shigeru, but his most well-known masterpiece is Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro.
His manga is usually “horror manga”, more concretely “yokai manga” (Yokai means phantoms, spirits and Japanese monsters). In fact he is considered the father of “yokai manga”. Shigeru created his own style, detailed backgrounds, terrible monsters with a smiley face, humor/irony mixed with good histories and a serious message.
Some characters created by Shigeru Mizuki.
Shigeru Mizuki was born in 1922 and when he was twenty one he was sent to Papua New Guinea to fight against the allied forces. During the war he suffered malaria, he saw most of his friends die and he finished his own adventure when a bomb exploded near him and he lost his left arm.
When he recovered after losing his arm, he was plenty of free time and he started to spend time with the natives living in the island. When the war finished and he had to go back to Japan, the island people offered him a home, land and even a wife! (A complete life pack!). Shigeru though about staying with them but a friend convinced him that he should go to Japan to meet his parents.
He went back to Japan and learned how to draw with his right hand (He was left-handed). Few years past, and he became one of the most influential mangakas, experts say his style influenced even Osamu Tezuka, the father of manga. He also wrote many books, some of them autobiographical, mainly about his experience during the war.
Fart flying by Kappa no Sanpei
Nowadays Shigeru is still alive, he lives in Chofu (A city inside Tokyo area). He is near 90 years old, but he is still very active, he draws manga everyday and writes books. His drawing passion is so big/obsessive that the legend says he didn’t have time to marry until his mother who was really mad at him convinced Shigeru to marry a Japanese woman through omai (arranged marriage) when he was 40.
Shigeru has won all the most prestigious prizes a mangaka can win, he has a museum located in his birthplace town in Tottori and there are some streets in Chofu, where he is living right now, with some statues representing Shigeru’s characters. Even though he is very famous in Japan, most of his legacy is only available in Japanese. If you have a medium Japanese level, I recommend you to get some manga from Shigeru, it is pretty easy to understand and enjoyable.