Announcing the publication of the English-language edition of one of Tezuka Osamu’s earliest books, and one of manga history’s most important: “The Mysterious Underground Men” (Chiteikoku no kaijin, 1948), published by PictureBox in New York.
The edition is in color, akahon duotone. It was produced by scanning an original 1948 copy of the book on loan from Tezuka Productions in Tokyo. Nothing this close to an archival edition exists even in Japan. The volume also includes a translation of a a short article about the work by Tezuka from 1982, and an introductory essay.
Originally published in Osaka in 1948, The Mysterious Underground Men tells the story of Mimio the talking rabbit, as he struggles to prove his humanity while helping his friends save earth from an invasion of angry humanoid ants. While Tezuka’sNew Treasure Island (1946-47) was the first major hit for the “god of manga,” the artist himself regarded this later book the first of his signature “story manga. Inspired by Bernhard Kellermann’s Der Tunnel (1913) and drawing widely on European and American science fiction, as well as Milt Gross’ own pioneering “graphic novel,” He Done Her Wrong (1930), this full-color edition of The Mysterious Underground Men will not only introduce to English-language readers a founding monument in modern Japanese comics. It will also offer a rare glimpse at the wide-ranging Western cultural sources that made up young Tezuka’s world.
This is the second volume in the “Ten-Cent Manga” series, which focuses on the impact of American comics and popular culture upon Japanese manga. The first volume, Sugiura Shigeru’s “The Last of the Mohicans,” was released this past summer.