Friday, May 03, 2019

Kazuo Koike, creator of ‘Lone Wolf and Cub,’ ‘Lady Snowblood’ manga, dies at 82

Kazuo Koike, writer of seminal manga such as "Lone Wolf and Cub," "Lady Snowbird" and "Crying Freeman," died on April 17, 2019. He had been hospitalized for pneumonia. He was 82.

His work influenced many creators in comics and movies.

From the AV Club:

"Born in 1936 in Japan’s Akita prefecture, Koike was as much an educator as a writer, having helped establish the Koike Gekiga Sonjuku training school for manga creators. He was the perfect teacher, after all, his innovations in the realm of samurai manga being some of the very first to be published in North America. His work was also adapted into numerous films that helped launch the career of Tomisaburo Wakayama and inspire the likes of Frank Miller and Quentin Tarantino, who drew heavily upon the Lady Snowblood adaptation while making Kill Bill. There’s been recent talk of a stateside adaptation of Lone Wolf And Cub, with Ghost In The Shell producer Steven Paul having bought the rights.

"A prolific creator, Koike also produced manga like Samurai Executioner, Crying Freeman, Mad Bull 34, and Mad Bull 2000, as well as Hulk: The Manga for Marvel. In 2004, he was inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame."

From the Washington Post:

"Mr. Koike’s manga featured stylized graphic violence that benefited from the black-and-white color scheme of manga. He regarded most samurai films and manga as insufficiently violent and overly ritualized in their swordplay.
"'Black and white gave him the ability to render blood graphically without the intensity that you would have in color,' said Andrew Farago, curator of the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. 'If you tried that in American comics, you wouldn’t get away with that and have mainstream distribution. It was a very cinematic approach, but it wasn’t gratuitous.' Mr. Koike and his artists, he added, 'were very aware of the audience and the boundaries and limitations of what the publisher would allow.'

"Although the series did not appear in a U.S. edition until 1987, Farago noted that its hyperkinetic style influenced American comic book artists such as Frank Miller ('Batman: The Dark Knight Returns'), Larry Hama ('G.I. Joe') and Walt Simonson ('Manhunter').

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