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Temporary Exhibitions
  • TOMM the 9th Exhibition: The "COM" Exhibition

  • There was a magazine entitled "COM" that Tezuka Osamu became deeply involved with. The "Manga Shonen" magazine, published by Gakudosha, serialized "Jungle Emperor Leo" from 1967 to the early 1970s, providing Tezuka Osamu with an opportunity contribute Manga to magazines. Like "Manga Shonen," "COM" was issued with the aim of making it the gateway to success for new young cartoonists. Under this title, a total of 58 issues came out during the period of January 1967 to December 1971.

    The title "COM" was coined by combining three terms: comics, companion, and communication. In the first issue, Tezuka Osamu stated that "COM" was a new comic magazine aimed at conveying the essence of Manga to those who truly loved the art.

    In those days, "Gekiga" (comics with realistic pictures and narratives) was emerging from the world of rental books to be published in Manga magazines. The "Garo" magazine, which was founded by Nagai Katsuichi at Seirindo in 1964 to publish "Gekiga," was drawing the attention of intellectuals.

    In order to counter the threat of the emerging "Gekiga," Tezuka Osamu started the publication in "COM" of the large-scale cartoon "The Phoenix" based on a new plan. "The Phoenix" had previously been left unfinished when it was serialized in the "Manga Shonen" magazine. He also established newcomer prizes and published the reviews and rating of applicants for the prizes in detail, thus sending many new cartoonists out into the world. "COM" advertised itself as a "magazine dedicated to Manga for the Manga elite" and addressed a wide range of Manga as a form of culture. The magazine also played a role in developing fans among students and intellectuals.

    As the student and civic movements against the Vietnam War and the revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty in 1970 spread nationwide, Japanese society was characterized by confusion. In the cinema, drama, art, and other fields as well, artists of the new generation were making a series of experimental moves. Against this backdrop, "COM" provided a testing ground for the young generation of cartoonists. This was the period during which, with the foundation of a series of "Gekiga" magazines for youths, "Gekiga" were being transformed Manga for youths, and also the period in which a new generation of cartoonists for girls' Manga made their debut and took on the challenge of addressing a host of new themes. A new generation of readers was emerging who continued to read Manga as faithfully as works written by Dazai Osamu, Hesse, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Rilke, Heine, and other master writers. The editors of "COM" anticipated these trends with keen sensitivity and reflected them in their editing. The organizers of this exhibition would like to present the world of "COM," a legendary magazine for Manga fans, through Tezuka Osamu's works and remarks.

     

     

     

    Part 1: "COM" and its time

     

    There was a magazine entitled "COM," with which Tezuka Osamu was heavily involved. Like Gakudosha's "Manga Shonen" magazine in which Tezuka Osamu himself published "Jungle Emperor Leo" in serial form from 1967 to the early 1970s, seizing the opportunity of contributing Manga to magazines in subsequent years, "COM" was issued with the aim of making it the gateway to success for new young cartoonists.

    In those days, "Gekiga" (comics with realistic pictures and narratives) was emerging from the world of rental books to be published in general Manga magazines. The "Garo" magazine, which was founded by Nagai Katsuichi at Seirindo in 1964 to publish "Gekiga" was drawing the attention of students and intellectuals. In order to counter the threat of the emerging "Gekiga," Tezuka Osamu began publication in "COM" of the large-scale cartoon "The Phoenix" based on a new plan. "The Phoenix" had previously been left unfinished when it was serialized in the "Manga Shonen" magazine. He also established newcomer prizes and published the reviews and ratings of applicants for the prizes in detail, sending many new cartoonists out into the world. "COM" advertised itself as a "magazine dedicated to Manga for the Manga elite" and addressed a wide range of Manga as a form of culture. The magazine was also key to developing fans among students and intellectuals. As student and civic movements against the Vietnam War and the revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty in 1970 spread nationwide, Japanese society was thrown into a state of confusion. In the cinema, drama, art, and other fields as well, artists of the new generation were making a series of experimental moves. Against this backdrop, "COM" was providing a testing ground for a young generation of cartoonists, not necessarily in line with Tezuka Osamu's intentions.

    This was the period in which, with the foundation of a series of "Gekiga" magazines for youths, "Gekiga" was achieving transformation into Manga for youths and also the period in which a new generation of cartoonists for girls' Manga made their debut and took up the challenge of addressing a host of new themes. A new generation of readers was emerging who continued to read Manga as faithfully as works written by Dazai Osamu, Hesse, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Rilke, Heine, and other master writers. The editors of "COM" keenly anticipated these moves and reflected them in their editing of magazines. Part 1 consists of three-dimensional exhibits, which include transfer prints that show how "Gekiga" emerged as Japanese society experienced a period of upheaval, and copies of the "COM" magazine.

     

     

     

    Part 2: Tezuka Osamu in "COM"

     

    In an effort to show in his own way what a true story Manga is, Tezuka Osamu began to publish "The Phoenix: The Chapter of The Dawn" in serial form starting with the first issue of the "COM" magazine that came out in January 1967. Subsequently, by October 1970, he had published the chapters of "The Future," "Yamato," "the Universe," "Ho-o," "Resurrection," and "A Robe of Feathers" in the magazine. "Part 8: The Chapter of Nostalgia," started with the December 1971 issue of the magazine, was left unfinished because "COM" was renamed "COM Comics" with the publication of its next issue, and "Part 9: The Chapter of Turbulent Times," started with the August 1978 issue of the "COM" magazine, was also left unfinished because the magazine was discontinued with the same issue. In both cases, the serial publication of the cartoon was stopped with only the first episode issued. Later, the series was resumed in the "Manga Shonen" magazine published by Asahi Sonorama.

    In addition to the serial publication of his lifework "The Phoenix," Tezuka Osamu often expressed his opinions in the "COM" magazine, and not only as its president: he also made proposals for, and complained about, Japan's Manga circles in his essays and argued with critics in the magazine. Furthermore, "COM" carried many comments that Tezuka Osamu made on various occasions, including those for feature articles and questionnaire surveys, comments he made on the selection of newcomer prizewinners, and his recollections.

    One of "COM's" important roles was to re-publish Tezuka Osamu's old works that were difficult to obtain at that time. The magazine gave its many readers the opportunity to read his old works, including "West Rush," "The Film Lives On," and "Dove, Fly up to Heaven," for the first time. "Crime and Punishment" and "Benkei" were published as supplements and thus were reproduced in a form close to a book. Fans were happy about these publications, which were made possible only by the Manga magazine. Moreover, as exemplified by the publication of a huge list of Tezuka Osamu's works and the serial publication of the article "Mushi Communication," "COM" served as a magazine for Tezuka Osamu fans, displaying his creative activities on various occasions.

     

     

    Words from the founder of the magazine

     

    "COM" is an abbreviation of "comics."

    "COM" is an abbreviation of "companion."

    And it is an abbreviation of "communication."

    In other words, "COM" is a new comic magazine that conveys the genuine heart of Manga writers to friends who truly love Manga. This is how we decided to name this Manga magazine "COM." It is said that this is an age in which Manga is at its peak. But how many high-quality Manga works are published? Isn't it a fact that many Manga writers are busy doing their jobs while succumbing to, obediently meeting, or making compromises when faced with the harsh demands of commercialism? In this magazine, I would like to show in my own way what true story Manga are. At the same time, I hope that this magazine will serve as the gateway to success for new Manga writers as the old "Manga Shonen" magazine did. Indeed, "COM" is a magazine for friends who truly love Manga.

     

    I hope all readers will love the "COM" monthly Manga magazine in this sense.

     

    Tezuka Osamu

    December 1, 1966

     

     

    Part 3: "COM" writers

     

    Together with "The Phoenix," the cartoon works featured in "COM" were "Jun" by Ishinomori Shotaro and "Futen" by Nagashima Shinji.

    "Jun" was an experimental work in which Ishinomori depicted scenes reflected in the mind of a boy when he met a little girl, using such techniques as bold arrangements of scenes and "silent Manga" in which no characters speak. In a flow of images, this work featured the science fiction-like dynamic development of its story, the beauty of girls' Manga, and the realism of the writer who turns his eyes to social problems. In the sense that it made young readers in those days aware of experiments in Manga works, it occupied an important position in the history of Manga. The experiment he made in this work led to the mental images that characterized Ishinomori's later Manga.

    "Futen" was a work in which Nagashima Shinji depicted with sympathy the lifestyles and feelings of the "Futen" (delinquent youths) who gathered at the Kabukicho amusement quarters in Shinjuku, Tokyo in the 1960s. This work was based on the experience the writer had when he himself lived with the "Futen" there. His depictions of men and women, young and old, who, troubled with their lives, become societal dropouts-recluses in the city with diverse pasts-won the strong sympathy of youths in those days. This work made Nagashima, a cartoonist who had worked his way up from the world of rental Manga books, a hero of the time and he started to actively contribute to Manga magazines for youths.

    Other major writers who contributed to "COM" included Matsumoto Reiji, Yamagami Tatsuhiko, Mazaki Mamoru, Fujiko Fujio (A), Murano Moribi and Hase Kunio. All the works by these writers took up different themes, and used methods of expression that were a little different from those in general commercial magazines, and yet exhibited the characteristics of the writers. They were unique and most suitable for a magazine dedicated to Manga.

    This was also the period in which Sakaguchi Hisashi, an animated cartoon writer for Mushi Productions, and Nagai Go, still an assistant to Ishinomori Shotaro, were active as new and young cartoonists. Tezuka Osamu and ten other cartoonists, including Mizuno Eiko, Terada Hiroo, Akatsuka Fujio, and Tsunoda Jiro, who resided in the legendary Tokiwaso apartment in Tokyo contributed the complete-in-one-issue series "Tales of Tokiwa Apartments," made possible only by "COM".

     

     

     

    Part 4: Graduates of "COM"

     

    One of "COM's" objectives was to discover and develop new cartoonists. To that end, the readers' column, which was called "Gracon (Grand Companion)," sent many new unique cartoonists out into the world by reviewing and giving marks to works contributed to the magazine and awarding monthly newcomer prizes and annual "COM" newcomer prizes.

    Particularly, "The Sun and a Skeleton-like Boy" by Okada Fumiko, published in the second issue of the magazine, depicted the psychology of an introverted girl in her puberty in the form of a poetic monologue, and its innovative method of expression was a great surprise to readers. In the May 1967 issue, Miyatani Kazuhiko won the second monthly newcomer prize for his work "When One Goes to Sleep." He conveyed the feelings of rebellious youths through the scenes of the time, including politics, sex, and rock music, thereby capturing the imagination of readers. These cartoonists were newcomers, yet at the same time led the image of "COM" as the magazine's star cartoonists, greatly influencing many Manga magazines for youths that were being continuously published in those days.

    Other cartoonists who made their debuts by winning a monthly newcomer prize from "COM" and subsequently became active at the frontlines of the field included Aoyagi Yusuke, Hino Hideshi (Hoshino Yasuji), Hasegawa Hosei, Takemiya Keiko, Motoyama Reiko, Matsumori Tadashi, Kamie Satomi, Yamada Murasaki and Morohoshi Daijiro (Yoshikage).

    Many of those who contributed excellent works to the magazine became active as cartoonists later, and these included Adachi Mitsuru, Otomo Katsuhiro, Nojo Junichi, Tadatsu Yoko, Yamagishi Ryoko, Morita Jun, and Ishii Hisaichi. Interesting is the fact that the name of Izumiya Shigeru, a folk singer, is found in a list of persons recognized for their excellent works contributed to the February 1969 issue of the magazine. This, too, symbolized an age in which all the elements of youth culture inspired one another to generate new trends.

     

     

     

    Part 5: Girls' Manga and "COM"

     

    "COM" was published during the period from the second half of the 1960s and around 1970, and this corresponded to the period in which girls' Manga started to undergo quiet change. In response to writers of Manga for young people who started to take up the troubles of youth and social issues as their themes, girls' Manga writers began to turn their eyes to the worries and conflicts of real life rather than the world of sweet love and dreams.

    The editors of "COM" actively asked girls' Manga writers of remarkable individuality to contribute their works to the magazine. One of the distinctive features of "COM" was that woman Manga writers played an active role in the magazine, and examples included Yashiro Masako and Kimura Minori, both of whom depicted the daily lives and vacillating feelings of girls in a manner that made the readers feel a sense of vitality in the work, as well as Asuka Sachiko, who drew cartoons filled with a sense of mystery and science fiction. The editors did not stick to the framework of boys' magazines or girls' magazines in their editorial policy, providing the readers with a wider perspective on Manga.

    From among the winners of monthly newcomer prizes as well, a number of women Manga writers, including Takemiya Keiko, Motoyama Reiko, and Yamada Murasaki, made their debuts as cartoonists. Takemiya Keiko, who later became the standard-bearer of the girls' Manga boom in the 1970s, made boys appear as heroes in her prize-winning cartoon. Yamada Murasaki, who vividly portrayed the feminine anxiety of girls in the process of puberty and growing self-awareness, developed a new field of what was called "women's Manga" in the 1980s by addressing child-rearing, husband and wife, family, and other domestic issues from a female viewpoint. Hagio Moto, who made her debut as a cartoonist in girls' magazines at almost the same time, published works in "COM" magazine that marked a turning point for her style of drawing cartoons.

    These woman Manga writers, who contributed their works to "COM," soon became active mainly in the sister magazine "Funny," founded by Mushi Production in May 1969, "Ribbon Comic," published by Shueisha in 1969, "Bessatsu Shojo Comic," founded by Shogakukan in 1970, and other magazines, forming a new school of girls' Manga that was to flourish in the second half of the 1970s. It can be said that "COM" provided the impetus to the girls' Manga boom.

     

     

     

    Part 6: "COM" and Manga culture

     

    "COM" was a Manga magazine that at the same time provided a venue for review of and research in the field of Manga. The magazine serialized essays on Manga grammar and writers, monthly reviews, and other articles written by Kusamori Shinichi, Sano Mitsuo, Ozaki Hotsuki, Saito Jiro, and others, and the pages of the magazine were enriched by feature articles and roundtable discussions that analyzed Manga from various angles. This was probably an indication of Tezuka Osamu's wish for creative review of Manga.

    The Manga encyclopedia "Manganica" written by Fujiko Fujio using Manga and "My Way of Writing Cartoons" were serialized works that were found only in "COM." In the serialized column for essays writers, poets, movie directors, theater people, painters, musicians, and other various kinds of artists were chosen to talk about their relationships with Manga. One-scene cartoon writers and illustrators also appeared in the magazine. "COM" was an information magazine that covered the whole spectrum of Manga culture-related subjects, including topics and event news in Manga circles as well as introductions of TV and overseas animated cartoons.

    The readers' column, called "Gracon," served as not only a "preparatory school" for applicants for the newcomer prize but also as a school for Manga fans that provided them with all kinds of knowledge about Manga, including ways of compiling Manga coterie magazines, know-how in fan activities, materials collection and Manga research methods. The local chapters of "Gracon" established as reader organizations throughout the country provided a place for exchange for Manga coterie magazines, those who aspired to become cartoonists, and Manga fans.

    "COM" collected information on all categories of Manga, including one-scene cartoons, "Gekiga," girls' Manga, illustrations, and animated cartoons, and proposed ways of researching and reviewing them. It also positioned Manga as a diverse culture and art form and strove o encourage development of Manga writers and fans that would become the driving force of the next generation of Manga culture. As its catchphrase indicates, "COM" was the definitive Manga magazine dedicated to the Manga elite.

     

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