Tuesday, 11 November 2008

[72] Bat-Manga! The Secret History of Batman in Japan

Here's a quick take for you! Bat-Manga! The Secret History of Batman in Japan is a mouth-wateringly deluxe hard-cover collection of Japanese Batman comics from the mid-late 1960s.

Editor, designer and all-round geek guru Chip Kidd, with the help of Saul Ferris and Geoff Spear, has unearthed and translated a bunch of Batman comics from the Land of the Rising Sun, and published them in the West for the first time. The comics were originally written by Jiro Kuwata, and were published in 1966-1967, to tie in with the Batman TV series' initial run in Japan.

I'm still trawling through this huge volume, getting to grips with the more sci-fi quirks of the Manga-fied Caped Crusader. The presentation is wonderful, complete with advertisements and photographs of memorabilia and toys from the period. The comics themselves, while a little deteriorated, are presented in detailed, blown up photographs, which show off their bold, expressive designs to the full. I particularly like the little inscriptions in the inside columns of the pages, which include Bat-trivia, science facts and snippets of feedback, e.g. 'Major League Trivia: In Japan, no one has hit more than 10 Grand Slams, but Lou Gehrig hit 23 Grand Slams between 1925 and 1938', and 'Batmobile: Nuclear-powered, runs on jet propulsion. It has radar, laser beams and a cordless phone'.

Kidd et al have crafted a really desirable coffee-table book for all those interested in comics, Batman and Japanese culture. It doesn't come cheap (and there may be more volumes to come), but the care and effort put into the edition justifies its price, and justifies a little luxury.

Check out Chip Kidd relating tidbits from the process of making Bat-Manga, plus a peek at 'The Man Who Quit Being Human' on Youtube (part one, part two).
Thanks to Sproutgrrl and Cory Doctorow @ Flickr for the scans.
Check out Bat-Manga at Boing Boing.
Check out Chip Kidd's personal website.

1 comment:

Dom Sutton said...

yeah I'm tempted by this I must admit