Thursday, October 4, 2007

An Eight Volume Manga Version Of The Life Of Buddha, By The Creator Of Astro Boy


I've continued my slow march through the huge collection of Chip Kidd's book covers (Chip Kidd: Book One: Work: 1986-2006), and discovered that Kidd designed the books for Osamu Tezuka's eight volume manga version of the life of Buddha. The image you see above is from volume five in the series (Deer Park (Buddha, Vol. 5)):
Japanese comics pioneer Tezuka's monumental account of the life of the Buddha continues. Little is known about the life of the sixth-century-B.C.E. spiritual leader, so Tezuka devotes much of the narrative to characters he created as well as figures from early Buddhist lore, through them portraying the violent society and cruel caste system that the Buddha challenged. Deer Park opens with a meeting between the fictional swordsman Tatta and the historical Devadatta, both of whose lives would be transformed by the Buddha. Tatta pledges his life to the Buddha after the voice of his bandit lover, Migaila, is miraculously restored; but Devadatta goes on to become the Buddha's greatest enemy. Deer Park also includes a key event in the Buddha's story: the delivery of his first sermon in a field in which deer and other wild beasts gather. Those expecting a solemn treatment of Buddhist foundations may be taken aback by Tezuka's approach, which encompasses humor and, indeed, broad slapstick and lowbrow, anachronistic jokes that frequently break the fourth wall, as when Tatta removes his helmet in battle, saying, "Tezuka says it's hard to draw anyway." Others may object to the frequent violence or the casual nudity. Those who approach the work open-mindedly can't but be impressed by Tezuka's compassionate humanism--a quality distinguishing his work throughout his long career--and masterful storytelling.

Frequent violence and casual nudity. That's my kind of history. Osamu Tezuka's Buddha