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Thursday 28 November 2013

Manga in the 80's Pt. 18

AKIRA. Written and illustrated by Katsuhiro Otomo. published by Epic Comics ( a division of Marvel Comics) in a monthly format in colourised version, with a total of 38 issues, from August\October 1988 to  1995 . The manga was originally published between 1984 and 1989 by Kodansha Ltd. & MASH ROOM Co. Ltd.

A first to recognise the market in the readership of High School and College students, Otomo's AKIRA taped in to a arts and entertainment well informed audience hankering for something new that they could relate to. At the heart of this is Otomo's storytelling and artwork, no CUTE teenage school girls in uniform are to be found, with some critics saying that the female characters are even ugly! 

Visually rich (and lucky for us in the West colourised with love and care) and a gripping narrative AKIRA should not need an introduction.
Like a binary star the two protagonists Kaneda Shotaro and Tetsuo Shima two friends in a juvenile biker gang get mixed-up in secret Government experiments, political & military power struggles, religious and anti-government groups all set in the year 2030 in Neo-Tokyo, and they even have time for the societal pressures of relationships, school and the odd scrap with rival biker gangs, and like all teenagers feel alienated and disillusioned with modern society and the adults who run things.

In this lush back drop of a CyberPunk like world in the year 2002 where scientists have nurtured and enhanced children's psychic abilities (because they can!) to catastrophic magnitude in one or two cases of their test group, and by 2030 the decay had set in to this utopian city no more a scientists dream of a better tomorrow! Like “10 degrees of separation” all the supporting characters are in some way intertwined and have their own story arc and considerable time in the limelight too.

This Manga is one that we all should have on our shelf at home, and for some it was their first introduction to a much wider World of this Japanese phenomenon of comic-books.

[Note: Quoting Archie Goodwin - Otomo personally chose Steve Oliff as colourist (America had the most advanced computer colouring system at that time) for the English translated manga and furnished him with colour guides each step of the way. Studio MASH ROOM Co. Ltd. Also adjusted the artwork for the western comic-book format.]

[Note: When the first volume was released in Japan in September 1984 the print run shot up from an estimated 30,000 to nearly 300,000 and became a best seller. The cover had the author’s name in English as well as the title, a bold break with Japanese manga tradition.]

[NOTE: The American Print run from 'Epic' (a subsidiary of MARVEL COMICS) of AKIRA's 38 issues over the span of 1989 to 1996, has a few breaks in the run - from July 1989 to August 1990, to the 4 issue run in 1991 (April to July), and 3 issues in 1992, then the final 5 issues from November 1995 to February 1996. Should correspond with some promotional advertising? - yet to be found from Epic comics (as of December 2022).]

Newly created tile page... in Black & White.

Taken from 'Young Magazine' to be used as colour cover art for the Epic comic editions.
"Otomo's many other virtues, as artist-creator" - "We've taken panels from up and coming issues that provide impressive examples of his approach to architecture and technical design."
Otomo's technical design, and architecture.
Otomo's technical design, and architecture.


Artwork book.
Artwork book.

As of December 2022 I now have a Full set of all 38 issues of Eipc's AKIRA.

[NOTE: Caveat emptor, or "Buyer be where", collecting these issues of AKIRA has been long and at most, a fun hunt from the start, but moving into the issues numbering from 30 and beyond costs do get high, from the £5.99 to £7.99 of the pre-twenties, to an increase to £15.00 to £24.99 for the pre-thirties, to £70.00 to £120.00 for the late 30's (e-bay an other auctions sites can see issues sky-rocket to $160.00 to $290.00 for issues 37 & 38 as of December 2022).]

Advertising the Monthly issues that are in bookshelf format (Squarebound Paperback), and Colourised Issues in 1989.
[NOTE: veteran colourist Steve Oliff was personally selected to collaborate with Katsuhiro Otomo, and in bringing the USA's top Computer Colouring tools in a 'step-by-step' process (Otomo singing-off on each stage) helped the Manga comic of the East come to the comic-book lovers of the West.]

Otomo_s trip to 'Point Arena' California 1989 
(© Steve Oliff \fleix Comic Art\Katsuhiro Otomo)

The collaboration with Katsuhiro Otomo and Steve Oliff. 

AKIRA The Movie...

US-Renditions (Books Nippan USA) 

Streamline Pictures.
USA's cinematic release of AKIRA.

[NOTE: Acting as a platform to promote the move from Comics\Manga to a feature length animated film, and the North American (USA) cinematic releases of the movie "AKIRA" , the monthly issues publicised the places and dates for the USA.  Something here in the England (the United Kingdom) we did not have that support for the cinematic release!]

Advertising the TPB of AKIRA (Trade Paper Back, known by the Press as a Graphic Novel),
Quarterly OR Monthly issues starting in March 1990 to 1993.  
Advert taken from another Otomo manga translated and published in April 1992 by Epic Comics entitled 'Farewell to Weapons'. 

LANCE BARNES - Post Nuke Dick
Volume 1. No2.  May 1993
EPIC grams
"AKIRA TRADE PAPERBACK #8 - Attempts to repel the invaders fail until Tetsuo intervenes!
 His "cold turkey" battle against drugs results in explosions that blast them away.  AKIRA readers will love this beautiful 192-page trade paperback reprinting AKIRA #22-24 by Katsuhiro Otomo. For Mature Readers.

LANCE BARNES - Post Nuke Dick
Volume 1. No4.  July 1995
EPIC grams
May Premieres!
Limited Series
Ongoing Series
"AKIRA #34 - You demanded it:  AKIRA returns on a monthly basis!
In this 64-page bookshelf issue, Kay goes one on one with Tetsuo, until Kaneda, Joker, and RyJ join the fray.  Look for it --- AKIRA's back, and not taking prisoners this time!  By Katsuhiro Otomo, with Jo Duffy. For Mature Readers.

LANCE BARNES - Post Nuke Dick Volume 1. No2.  May 1993 EPIC
LANCE BARNES - Post Nuke DickVolume 1. No4.  May 1995 EPIC.

[NOTE: sadly NO full colour page ads.]

AKIRA Book ONE 1990  &  AKIRA Book TWO 1991.

AKIRA Book THREE 1991  &  AKIRA Book FOUR 1992.

AKIRA Book FIVE 1992  &  AKIRA Book SIX 1992.

AKIRA Book SEVEN 1992  &  AKIRA Book EIGHT 1992.

AKIRA Book NINE 1993  &  AKIRA Book TEN 1993.

[NOTE: Only 10 Volumes were published.  The set is to this day remains incomplete stopping at around issue 30. And with two further volumes 11 and 12 would have then been able to finish the collection by Epic.]

Western artists pay TRIBUTE the AKIRA manga;

Dave Gibbons,


Mark Charello,


George Pratt,

Joe Madureira,

John Romita,

Mike Allred,

Alex Toth,

Keven O'Neill,

John Van Fleet.

Epic comics would also translate and publish two more works from Mr. Otomo;

1980 Memories by Katsuhiro Otomo (Epic Comic 1992). 

Katsuhiro Otomo's Farewell to Weapons (Epic Comic, April 1992). 

[NOTE: in 1991 their was a break in the run of AKIRA from July's issue 30, to having only Issues 31 to 33 printed between January and May or 1992, then the final five issues 34 to 38 in October 1995 to February 1996.  Finding Promotional advertising from Epic Comics, from 1992, 1995, and 1996 has been vey difficult.]

Epic Comic's "Metropol A.D." Volume 2, Number 2, Published in November 1992.
 Had this to say in its 'CHECKLIST';
"MEMORIES --- The master of Japanese storytelling does it again!  Three space adventurers on a seemingly innocent mission find themselves in a deadly web of paranormal intrigue!  By acclaimed creator of AKIRA, Katsuhiro Otomo."

[NOTE:The focus of the'CHECKLIST' was not AKIRA, but Ted MMcKeever's 'METROPOL A.D.'; Moebius's 'ONYX OVERLOAD'(AIRTIGHT GARAGE); William Shatner's 'TEK WORLD'; Sergio Aragones's 'GROO THE WANDERER'; Clive Barker's HELLRAISER'; Clive Barker's NIGHTBREED; and Chuck Dixon's 'ALIEN LEGION: GRIMROD.  EDITOR Tom Duning reflects on the Summer's hollywood blockbuster film sequals, of Lethal Weapon III, Aliens III, oh and that Bat Movie.]

[NOTE: It has been very difficult to find write-ups on Otomo's works that Epic Comics published for over 7 years!]

Katsuhiro Otomo's DOMU, A Child's Dream (Dark Horse comics Manga, March 1995) 
ONE OF THREE issues, with about 75+ pages of Manga in each (with other Manga being advertised within its pages).
[NOTE: The Cost to buy on E-bay, as of 2023 is upwards of £48 to £60+ each.]

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