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Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First Edition edition (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375714847
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375714849
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #789,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From The New Yorker

The campy, Pop-art-infused Batman television series that d�buted in 1966 was not just a hit in the U.S.; it also set off an international wave of Batmania. A Tokyo publisher licensed the comic-book rights and new weekly Batman adventures appeared for more than a year, drawn by Jiro Kuwata, a manga prodigy who co-created the popular cyborg superhero 8-Man. His work, never reprinted and previously untranslated, was so little known here that, until its rediscovery by Kidd and Ferris, even DC Comics, �Batman� �s publisher, was unaware of its existence. Kuwata, an action virtuoso, employed hypnotic geometrical motifs within his panels, incorporating realistic Batman and Robin figures into an exaggeratedly cartoonish style. His Batman fights villains like the shape-shifting Clayface and Go-Go the Magician, as well as typically Japanese oversized robots, insects, and dinosaurs.
Copyright ©2008 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Chip Kidd is a graphic designer and writer in New York City. His two previous books about comics for Pantheon were Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz and Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross. Both won the Eisner Award and were national bestsellers.

Geoff Spear is a photographer, living and working in lower Manhattan. For over two decades he has shot hundreds of images for a wide range of book covers, by such authors as Haruki Murakami, John Burdett, Augusten Burroughs, Oliver Sacks and Daniel Gilbert, among many others.

Saul Ferris is a founding partner in the law office of Ferris, Thompson and Zweig, in Gurnee, Illinois. During the last twenty years, he has amassed the most comprehensive collection of vintage Japanese Batman toys and memorabilia in the world.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 24 customer reviews
The stories aren't complex, but they are a lot of fun.
J. Thomason
Some props are certainly to be given to Mr. Jiro Kuwata, who took a distinctly American icon and recast him as a Japanese superhero.
Ryan Bonneville
It seem editor Chip Kidd did a poor job of collecting all the material for this book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Tim Lasiuta on October 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
North American comic fans in the 1960's knew Batman. You could turn the TV on, and watch Adam West/Burt Ward battle crime on a daily basis. The Green Hornet entertained us for a couple of seasons too. Look at the newsstands, and we could find the comic books everywhere. Bob Kane was getting credited with artwork, but Neal Adams, Carmine Infantino, and Gil Kane were starting to change the caped crusader later in the decade.

Then there's the manga Batman I never knew existed. DC licensed Batman to Shonen King and artist Jiro Kuwata created a sensational manga treatment that is visually stunning. Not based on Bob Kane scripts, he changed elements to appeal to the Japanese audience that Shonen King had. The resulting stories are true to the nature of the strip, yet true to the manga culture that craved Batman.

Jiro brings us, courtesty of Chip Kidd, Geoff Spear, and Saul Ferris, Batman battling with Clayface, Lord Death, aliens, and Dr Denton. The art is reproduced from printed pages of the book, yet it does not detract, but adds the 40 plus year age to the stories that are still fresh. Reading them with an Adam West appearance, you can almost hear the omitted 'Holy Manga Villain Batman! It's....'!

I really like the added bonus of the Jiro interview, and photos of rare Japanese Batman collectibles. Great book for only $29.95, but spring for the signed hardcover.

Tim Lasiuta
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Thomason on December 17, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a big fan of the original Bob Kane/Bill Finger run on Batman, as well as Manga from the 60s. This book has the feel of both. It's a collection of several issues of the Batman Manga from the 60s. The stories take some of the classic villians (like Clayface) and reimagine him. The stories aren't complex, but they are a lot of fun. My only complaint is how incomplete they are. You get part one of a story, but it's missing part two. I'm sure it's just a matter of time until the whole run will be collected.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E. David Swan VINE VOICE on December 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a truly unexpected find. In the introduction Chip Kidd describes how shocked he was to discover that there had been Batman comics produced in Japan back in 1966 describing this find as a `new Holy Bat-Grail'. He presented the information to Paul Levits, the President of DC Comics, saying it was like presenting the skull of John the Baptist to the Pope. Right from the start it's obvious that Chip Kidd is more than a guy putting out some Batman material, he's a major Batman fan producing a book for fans.

I have enjoyed DC Comics for as long as I can remember but oddly enough Batman has never been one of my big favorites. In the last few years, however, I've learned to appreciate the Dark Knight particularly since of all the DC characters he tends to have the highest quality comics and movies. Jiro Kuwata's Batman has more in common with the U.S. comic from the 1940's rather than one from the Mid 1960's but they are easily distinguishable from American Batman comics regardless of the era. The stories are extremely shallow and the artwork is drawn in a very cartoony Japanese style reminiscent of the era. This is not a complaint but readers should be prepared. No one is going to mistake these books for Batman Year One or Frank Miller's Dark Knight in terms of story depth. Imagine it more as if Batman was living in the world of Speed Racer.

Chip Kidd states right up front that these stories are incomplete. The story with `Go Go the Magician' ends with Batman trapped behind a wall of ice suffocating. Still `Go Go' fares better than Dr. Faceless who gets neither a beginning nor an ending. What kind of irks me about this is that Mr. Kidd collected an equal amount of additional material to what's presented after he began preparing this collection for publishing. According to Mr.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By on November 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
Few things get comic book fans--not to mention hardcore Batman-lovers--more irate than the thought of the campy 1960s "Holy haberdashery!"-era Batman TV show. It took 20 years and the vision of director Tim Burton for the Batman mythos to live the campy TV show down. Surprisingly, it lived on in Japan even longer in the form of manga.

Perhaps it's the ability to look back on this time with nostalgia from the relative comfort of a time when a Batman movie is seriously discussed as an Oscar contender. Whatever it is, the massive volume Bat-Manga! is a delightful look back at a time long gone but whose presence is still felt, in comics and in the real world.

Bat-Manga! seems to be a labor of love for legendary graphic designer Chip Kidd. He's packed it full of content, given it an amazing cover, and kept it in the original, right-to-left manga format. All the material reprinted within was originally published in Japanese in a weekly anthology called Shonen King and has now been translated into English for the first time. Perhaps even more enticing are the numerous images of Batman-related toys and memorabilia from the '60s.

Considering that, these days, Batman seems to fight the Joker over and over again in his current comics, it's almost refreshingly original to see him and his boy wonder pal Robin fight robots and aliens and mad scientists. It's pure '60s zeitgeist all the way through, but it's also fun and adventurous in a way that a lot of comics have forgotten how to be.

Another favorite from this collection: The quotes, trivia, and tidbits that run along the margins of some of the pages. They helpfully explain such things as "Bruce's butler, Alfred: The one who knows Batman's true identity. He's behind the scenes but provides all kinds of assistance.
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