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Remembering Shigeru Mizuki 1922-2015

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Shigeru Mizuki: 1922-2015

It is with sad but full hearts that we celebrate the life of Shigeru Mizuki. Over the course of his long and productive career as one of the forefathers of manga, he invented the yokai genre and was instrumental in the gekiga movement. In 2007, he became the first manga-ka to win the prestigious Fauve D'Or at the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée, and in 2010, the Japanese government named him a Person of Cultural Merit, honouring him with a museum and cultural center. His first English translation, Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, was published in 2011: it won over North American audiences for its weighty treatment of the complexities of war and was featured on PRI's The World. Mizuki went on to win two Eisner Awards (for the translations of Onward and Showa: A History of Japan).

There is no doubt that he will live on through his work, and in the hearts of all his readers. You will be missed, Mizuki-san.

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From our dear Chief, Chris Oliveros:

Very sad news was waiting for us at the start of the day on Monday, as we learned that one of the world's most influential and beloved cartoonists, Shigeru Mizuki, passed away at age 93. On behalf of D+Q I can say that it's been such a tremendous honour for all of us to have published his work, and we're pleased that we have been able to publish so many of his books since 2011, including his four-volume, 2,000 page masterwork, Showa: a History of Japan.

I had the honour of meeting Mizuki and his wife, Nunoe Mura, in person during my one trip to Japan in November 2012. Mizuki had received almost every award possible, but he still seemed genuinely pleased with winning an Eisner Award for his then-first book published in English, Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths. During our brief meeting, Mizuki talked about a wide range of subjects, from working with his early assistants (many of whom went on to become well-known manga-kas in their own right) to his still-vivid memories of the horrors of his experiences in WW2. 

Around the corner from his studio is a street dedicated to Mizuki's characters from his most famous creation, Kitaro. Mizuki was truly a beloved figure in Japan.

We'd like to especially thank Maki Hakui and Yasutaka Minegishi of Presspop, both of whom have had instrumental roles in bringing Mizuki to D+Q and representing his work.

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From series translator and Mizuki scholar, Zack Davisson:

It is impossible not to be sad at the passing of Mizuki Shigeru, even though he wouldn’t have wanted that. He did not fear death, and saw it as a natural part of a world that was full of mystery and wonder. Mizuki lived about as good a life that could possibly be lived; the ripe old age of 93; wealthy in every way that matters; respected by his peers; beloved. He died a good death. The only sad thing is that the rest of us now have to live in a world that doesn’t have Mizuki Shigeru in it.

To say that Mizuki Shigeru was a comic artist is like saying the Brothers Grimm crafted a quaint book of fairy stories or that Walt Disney made a few cartoons. Mizuki was one of those rare human beings who unequivocally changed the world with his art.  He was a visionary. A philosopher. A radical. A bon vivant of the mundane. He was also in every way my hero.

It has been my great honor to translate my hero’s comics, and share my love of him. I made a vow almost 10 years ago in a friend’s bar that I would bring this unique genius to the English-speaking world, and with Drawn & Quarterly I have made good on that vow. I am so happy that I was able to do this while he was still alive; it seems too often we only recognize great artists posthumously. I now hope that we will continue to bring even more of his great legacy to a wider audience. He had so much to share.

As for Mizuki himself; decades ago he designed and commissioned his own tomb, which he has refered to in interviews as his new home. He would often make jokes that he would be moving into his new home soon. I hope he finds it as comfortable and jolly as he had hoped. I am sure he is enjoying his well-earned rest amongst his yokai friends. They have been waiting for him for a long time.

お疲れ様でした、先生。 Goodbye, Teacher.

{There's a longer version here, posted on Zack's personal blog.}

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© Mizuki Production