The project: “Bat-Manga! The Secret History of Batman in Japan” Book, 2008
The firm: Chip Kidd, New York City; www.chipkidd.com
The team: Chip Kidd, art director/designer/translator/research; Geoff Spear, photographer; Anne Ishii, translator; Saul Ferris, research
The clients: Pantheon Books, DC Comics
This was a real feat of passionate comics archeology—basically saving this material from near total obscurity. In 1966, a Japanese weekly comics anthology called Shonen King licensed the rights from DC Comics to write and draw their own original Batman stories by and for the Japanese.
This happened for a year and generated hundreds of pages of amazing material, and then stopped, vanished and was never reprinted or translated. Further, DC Comics did not archive it (very unusual, because they archive just about everything). In the early 2000s, I made it a personal crusade, as it were, to save and publish this material.
Saul Ferris, my good buddy and collector soul-mate, tracked most of the material down through his contacts among vintage manga dealers in Japan. I had tried to find some in Tokyo manga shops while on a business trip to Japan in the early 2000s, with no luck whatsoever. But Saul managed it all without leaving his law office in Gurnee, IL, though it took more than 10 years. He is amazing, and thus his name appears on the cover.
The producers of the “Batman: Brave and the Bold” cartoon show were so taken with the book that they created a 10-minute Bat-Manga anime segment for one of their episodes titled “Batman’s strangest cases!” This was quite a geek’s dream come true.
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