History Of Manga Cartooning

History of Manga Cartooning

Manga is a Japanese word applied to Japanese print cartoons and comics. It was developed in Japan in the 20th century, starting from the World War II era. However, the origin of manga arguably stretches centuries before that time period. Manga is a major part of Japanese popular culture, an artform that has expanded far beyond Japan’s borders to other parts of the world.


Although the Japanese started using the word “manga” early in the 19th century, the artform itself was yet to be developed. It is difficult to pinpoint the first manga, although some historians theorize that picture books called “kibyoshi,” produced in the late 18th century, could qualify as a predecessor.

World War II Period

Manga did not develop into its modern-day incarnation until the World War II period, which includes the war itself (1939 to 1945) and the United States occupation of Japan (1945 to 1952). Historians claim that the birth of manga was sparked by the United States influence of movies and themes during the occupation. As early as 1941, though, the Japanese were already drawing cartoons as propagandist tools against their enemies during the war.

Osamu Tezuka

Osamu Tezuka (1928 to 1989) is referred to as “the father of manga.” He founded “Astro Boy” in 1952. It stood apart from mangas of the time in that he gave a much stronger three-dimensional feel to his work. Such success led “Astro Boy” to morph into a television series. This is seen as the origins of “anime,” which is the Japanese word for animation. For this, Tezuka is also called the “father of anime.”

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For the rest of the 20th century, mangas only increased in popularity, with a diversity of readership throughout Japan. Mangas also splintered according to gender. Machiko Hasegawa (1920 to 1992), creator of the comic strip “Sazae-san” in 1946, is the most famous practitioner of shojo manga, a subgenre marketed to a female audience. Other famous manga artists include Rumiko Takahashi (born 1957) and Akira Toriyama (born 1955), the creator of perhaps the most famous manga series of them all, “Dragon Ball.”

Manga Today

Manga cartooning is a billion dollar industry in Japan. Some manga series can be turned into anime or movies if they gain reasonable popularity. Since the 1980s, manga has spread to other parts of the world. Perhaps this is no more evident than in the United States, where manga sales totaled $200 million in 2006.