Tezuka, Brazilian's Joint Work Realized 20 Years Later (Update 2)
posted on by Egan Loo
74-year-old prolific Brazilian comic creator Mauricio de Sousa is putting together the joint project that he and pioneering manga creator Osamu Tezuka had planned — until Tezuka's sudden 1989 passing put those plans on hold. The two creators' original plans of an adventure movie on world peace never came to fruition, but de Sousa is realizing the story in comic form with characters created by Tezuka. This is the first time that a foreign comic creator has been given permission to use Tezuka's characters.
While Osamu Tezuka has been called the "God of Manga," de Sousa is known as the "Disney of Brazil." The comic creator's works appears in over half of the comic magazines published in Brazil, and he celebrated his 50th year drawing comics in 2009. As a Brazilian raised in the state of São Paulo among Japanese-Brazilians and married to a wife also of Japanese descent, de Sousa has long been a fan of Tezuka. A meeting during Tezuka's 1984 lecture tour of Brazil led to a deep friendship over the years, and the two had since visited each others' homes and studios.
The two creators decided to create an adventure movie about world peace with Tezuka's Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom) and Princess Knight (Ribbon no Kishi, pictured above) characters alongside Monica's Gang (Turma da Mônica, pictured at left) and other characters by de Sousa. Tezuka's anime has been broadcasted in Brazil, so his characters have been popular throughout the country. The two creators drafted the plans during de Sousa's visits to Japan.
During those trips, Tezuka used to meet de Sousa at the airport, and the two would have a meal together there. However, Tezuka was unable to keep that tradition on de Sousa's 1989 trip to Japan. On that trip, de Sousa eventually received a phone call from Tezuka's secretary, and the two creators met in a hotel in the traditional Tokyo neighborhood of Asakusa.
The Brazilian creator recalled that Tezuka looked emaciated since he just stepped out of a hospital for the visit. Nevertheless, Tezuka became animated while the two talked about each other's films, and continued to chat for several hours. Tezuka did not mention his stomach cancer during the conversation.
Several weeks later, after returning from his trip to Japan, de Sousa learned that Tezuka had passed away.
While Tezuka and de Sousa's movie collaboration never came to be, de Souza harbored hopes that the story can be realized in comic form. He was able to meet with Tezuka Productions' editor last year during a book fair in Italy. When de Sousa asked if he could use Princess Knight and other characters in his comic, the editor readily agreed, citing the two creators' friendship.
"At long last, I am fulfilling our promise," de Sousa told the Asahi Shimbun paper. The comic's story centers around people who stand against environmental destruction in the form of the deforestation of the Amazon. The Brazilian creator aims to publish the comic in Portuguese in June, and he hopes to release a Japanese version as well.
Update: While de Souza's wife is of Japanese descent, de Souza is not of Japanese descent.
Update 2: Alexandre Nagado notes that the American publisher Gold Key released an Astro Boy comic in 1965, and there is an American comic adaptation of IMAGI's 2009 Astro Boy film. However, de Sousa's upcoming comic is still the first foreign comic work not based on a Tezuka work that has the approved use of Tezuka characters.
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history