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Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in…

Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan (2008)

by Chip Kidd

Series: Batman, DC Comics

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1053114,970 (3.71)None
  1. 00
    Batman Animated by Paul Dini (lampbane)
    lampbane: Chip Kidd has designed two great books that really delve into the subject matter with reverence and style.

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Continuing a bout of re-reading. Jiro Kuwata was already a well-known figure in Japan when he hired on to adapt America's Batman for a manga audience. In an interview in this book, he says he pretty much read and then discarded with much of Bob Kane's stories, trying to craft something with the domestic readership in mind.

Some four decades later, the work would be re-discovered by Chip Kidd (in a circuitous manner that's a good story unto its own).

The book is a lot of fun, especially because it provides a kind of Rosetta Stone moment for American manga readers. Not exactly the direct translation tool provided by the actual Rosetta Stone, but there's a lesson to be had here in seeing how Japanese creators "see" American comics, giving how long we in America have been gaining a perspective on Japanese comics.
  Disquiet | Mar 30, 2013 |
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  MightyLeaf | May 25, 2010 |

"I've praised the damn thing before based on its graphic design, but how does the thing actually read?

Not very well, I'm afraid. The book collects a forgotten manga series from the 1960's that was not well-preserved, so that presents the first problem: very few of the stories in the collection are actually complete. You can't fault Kidd and company for that, but it does make the book more of an artistic piece than a narrative piece. [...]

Judging the actual stories, they're not bad. There's a few good tales in there (I think I enjoyed the Weather Wizard one, though incomplete) but also a few clunkers. It's funny to note that in the interview with Jiro Kuwata, he mentions how unrealistic some of the American stories are and how the Japanese prefer realism. This is a comic where Batman has a likeness of himself carved into the side of Mt. Gotham, for god's sake.

The art is decent for its time, and the reproductions of each page are photographed well enough that the lines are crisp and clear. The pages sometimes had to be shot from bound volumes, but despite that setback each page looks great. They chose to keep the textures of the paper and the bleed-through, which increases the feel of the book as an art piece rather than reading material." ( )
  lampbane | Jan 5, 2010 |
Showing 3 of 3
All these imperfections give it the feeling of a vintage piece, something rare, much-loved, and fragile. But the book is also superbly made, on beautiful paper, well-bound, with flourishes from the end-papers to the binding, and so it also feels thoroughly modern and secure.
added by lampbane | editBoing Boing, Cory Doctorow (Oct 29, 2008)
The English edition plays it all for nostalgic camp, both visually and textually.
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In 1966, during the height of the first Batman craze, a weekly Japanese manga anthology for boys, Shonen King, licensed the rights to commission its own Batman and Robin stories. A year later, the stories stopped. They were never collected in Japan, and never translated into English. Now, in this gorgeously produced book, hundreds of pages of Batman-manga comics more than four decades old are translated for the first time, appearing alongside stunning photographs of the world's most comprehensive collection of vintage Japanese Batman toys. This is The Dynamic Duo as you've never seen them: with a distinctly Japanese, atomic-age twist as they battle aliens, mutated dinosaurs, and villains who won't stay dead. And as a bonus: Jiro Kuwata, the manga master who originally wrote and drew this material, has given an exclusive interview for our book.… (more)

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