Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989) is the focal point of the social, economic, and stylistic origins of anime and manga as we know them today. He produced nearly 150,000 pages of comics spread across 700 books and pioneered Japanese animation through his own studio. I recently gave a lecture about his life and works at the anime convention NashiCon in Columbia, South Carolina, and would like to share some important takeaways from his biography.
He made art all the time.
Tezuka was raised by a cinephile father and a theater-loving mother. He was regularly exposed to films, photography, and stage shows, especially the all-female Takarazuka Theater. He and his younger siblings would draw all the time to amuse each other, with several scribbled characters surviving into Tezuka’s adult works as inside jokes. At school Tezuka was bullied for his shrimpy build and wavy hair, which only drove him further into his art.
Tezuka’s parents supplied him with a fresh sketchpad every day to fill however he pleased. Tezuka would explore his neighborhood and catalog different bugs he found. He drew whenever he was sick in bed. His effort paid off when he was published as a newspaper cartoonist at the age of 17 with his humorous four-panel comic called Diary of Ma-Chan.
He thrived under pressure and rose to challenges.