Comic book talent flowered in Japan in the aftermath of World War II. The major cartoonists who had witnessed the horrors of war addressed it in their work.
Shigeru Mizuki experienced combat as a soldier stationed in Papua New Guinea.
Named after the Showa era in Japan, which corresponds to the reign of the emperor, Hirohito (1926-1989), Mizuki’s epic Showa series presents an even-handed and scrupulously fair historical account, alongside his own personal story.
As with the previous two, the third volume in the series, Showa 1944-1953 (Drawn & Quarterly), charts Japan’s defeat by the Allies and subsequent occupation by America. Juxtaposing an arresting, photo-realist rendering of significant events with a more whimsical style (often in the same frame), Showa captures a small player cast amid a sea of great events, albeit he is guided by a growing sense of his own manifest destiny.
It’s an all the more remarkable story, given that Mizuki survived bouts of malaria and the loss of his arm in a bombing raid, and is still working at the age of 92.