Kong count #68 – Osamu Tezuka manga

It’s no stretch to say that the God of Manga, Osamu Tezuka, really liked movies. Being of the generation to first encounter the original King Kong during his childhood, it’s unsurprising that his body of works occasionally makes nods to the story. For example, The Three-Eyed One, which was in serialization at the time when the 1976 King Kong remake hit theaters:

sharaku-kong sharaku-kong-2

Tezuka’s 1964 manga The Great Zeo, about a giant robot that causes destruction in a major city before being gunned down by fighter planes, also holds certain parallels.


However, his relation to Kong goes deeper than that. At the start of Tezuka’s career, he made a great deal of his early books adaptations (sometimes, very, very loose ones) of popular western films, including Tarzan (in the revolutionary 1947 work New Treasure Island), Metropolis (1949), Next World (1951, adapting Things to Come), and The Lost World (1948). Those manga are all officially available in English translation, however, his 1947 adaptation of King Kong is not. In fact, likely due to (questionably valid) concerns over legal action from US studios, this foundational work by the most significant comic artist in history is hilariously difficult to acquire, even in Japan. Despite a few different editions apparently in existence (just do an image search for the cover), the last auction I found for it was going for a cool $4,500.

tezuka-kong-cover tezuka-kong2

I just hope the handful of people with remaining copies are preserving them; it’d be a tragedy if it’s not properly digitized and winds up lost. Tezuka’s Bambi and Pinocchio adaptations eventually got reprints in Japan, so we can hope King Kong also surfaces some day.

tezuka-kong-cover-2 tezuka-kongkong-tezuka-fight

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