Unpublished manga by the late charismatic cartoonist Osamu Tezuka was found last spring at a secondhand bookstore in Tokyo, according to a company that recently authenticated the drawings.
The untitled 19-page, black-and-white cartoon collection had been kept by one of Tezuka’s junior high school friends for more than 60 years. Tezuka, who died in 1989 at age 60, is believed to have created the drawings in his late teens.
Tezuka Productions Co., which manages Tezuka’s works, said it had been unaware of the drawings’ existence and described them as “very valuable material in the history of manga.”
The newly found work sarcastically depicts social problems just after the end of World War II, including food shortages and black markets, and represents the author’s feeling of freedom in the postwar era, one of the management company’s officials said.
Tezuka was a student at a medical school affiliated with Osaka University when he drew the cartoons immediately before or after his 1946 debut as a manga artist with the release of “Diary of Ma-chan.”
Haruji Mori, head of Tezuka Productions’ archives, said he was astonished by the newly discovered work.
“It’s interesting to learn about Tezuka’s trial-and-error approach while he was still a teenager. We’d like to release the material to fans in the near future,” Mori said.
Osamu Takeuchi, a Doshisha University professor specializing in the history of manga, said readers of the drawings would clearly notice that Tezuka’s style had not yet been fully established.
“It feels like seeing a gemstone just before it’s polished,” he said.
Tezuka’s later works, which included “Astro Boy,” “The Phoenix,” “Black Jack” and “Jungle Emperor Leo,” continue to enjoy worldwide popularity.