The cover of Phoenix for monthly magazine Shonen extra volume
Phoenix, known as one of Tezuka's masterpieces, was literally his lifework. He explored the depth of philosophical themes such as "life and death" and "reincarnation" through depicting future and past back and forth guided by Phoenix, an eternal existence beyond time and space.
Tezuka reflected his prediction to future as well as historical view in the work, asking readers a huge question such as "what space is".
Manga Shonen Edition
Dawn (uncompleted) Jul. 1954 - May 1955 Manga Shonen (Gakudosha)
Shojo Club Edition
Egypt May 1956 - Oct. 1956 Shojo Club (Kodansha)
Greece Nov. 1956 - Jul. 1957 Shojo Club (Kodansha)
Rome Aug. 1957 - Dec. 1957 Shojo Club (Kodansha)
Dawn Jan. 1967 - Nov. 1967 COM (Mushipro Shoji)
Future Dec. 1967 - Sep. 1968 COM (Mushipro Shoji)
Yamato Sep. 1968 - Feb. 1969 COM (Mushipro Shoji)
Space Mar. 1969 - Jul. 1969 COM (Mushipro Shoji)
Hoo Aug. 1969 - Sep. 1970 COM (Mushipro Shoji)
Resurrection Oct. 1970 - Sep. 1971 COM (Mushipro Shoji)
A Robe of Feather Oct. 1971 COM (Mushipro Shoji)
Intermission Nov. 1971 COM (Mushipro Shoji)
Nostalgia (uncompleted) Dec. 1971 - Jan. 1972 COM (Mushipro Shoji)
Nostalgia Sep. 1976 - Mar. 1978 Manga Shonen (Asahi Sonorama)
Civil War Apr. 1978 - Jul. 1980 Manga Shonen (Asahi Sonorama)
Life Aug. 1980 - Dec. 1980 Manga Shonen (Asahi Sonorama)
Strange Being Jan. 1981 - Apr. 1981 Manga Shonen (Asahi Sonorama)
Sun Jan. 1986 - Feb. 1988 Yasei Jidai (Kadokawa Books)
In the prologue of the comic book version, he wrote, "Phoenix is a drama based on the theme of life and death. Humans have struggled for eternal life symbolized by Phoenix since ancient time, and such struggle will last to future, which is something like an evitable fate of human beings."
The first chapter of Phoenix, Dawn was firstly serialized on Manga Shonen (Gakudosha) from July 1954 till May 1955. This was the very beginning of the long lasting serialization.
It's said Tezuka was inspired by Phoenix appearing in the animation movie: The Little Humpbacked Horse, produced in 1847 in Russia on creating his version of Phoenix. A feather of the Russian Phoenix brings a bad luck while a feather of Tezuka's Phoenix, a symbolic existence of life, heals injured or deceased people. The human characters appearing in his work all tries to catch the bird, seeking its blood which gives them an eternal life.
Actually, the work had taken a strange path since the first serialization on Manga Shonen. After the serialization on Manga Shonen was suspended, the work was re-serialized for a girl's magazine titled Shojo Club. Then the work came to be serialized on COM, a magazine Tezuka did establish by himself (Mushi Proshoji). The serialization was what we recognized as Phoenix now. Then the magazine changed its name from COM to COM Comics later, however, the serialization did not last long. Phoenix was suspended again during the serialization of Nostalgia. COM Comics did not last long, either. Although it changed the taste or was republished after the release of Intermission, COM Comics finally went out existence.
Followed by the suspension, Phoenix was serialized on Monthly Manga Shonen (Asahi Sonorama) and Yasei Jidai (Kadokawa Books).
According to the article titled "Heroes in Tezuka Manga" published on Akahata newspaper in Jan. 1974, Tezuka had an idea to incorporate an essence of Astro Boy in the episode set in the 21st century. Actually Tezuka had Dr. Ochanomizu appear just a bit at the first edition of Sun.
Tezuka died before completing Phoenix, the work based on his spectacular concept approaching to the modern age after traveling between past and future back and forth. He, however, did spend all his energy as a manga author into this great lifework.
Although the work was uncompleted, the clue of the next chapter followed by Sun was partially disclosed on Tezuka Fan Magazine vol. 78 (issued on Dec. 30, 1988).
The chapter, titled Earth, was planed to be a spectacular love story of a military man in the middle of Shino-Japanese war, starting from Shanghai and ending in Loulan.
"What is death? What is life? People have struggled with this simple but grave question since the beginning of time. Yet the question has not been solved." - Tezuka wrote the phrase at the prologue of the work as if he predicted that Phoenix became uncompleted for eternity.