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Shotaro Ishinomori Turns 75 Today

Lately, you may have noticed that the staff here at ComicsAlliance has been getting into the work of legendary manga creator Shotaro Ishinomori, creator of Kamen Rider, Cyborg 009, Skull Man and the pretty amazingly named Robot Detective. Sadly, Ishinomori died in 1998, but today would’ve been his 75th birthday.

And as fans all over the world already know, he’s a creator who is well worth celebrating.Ishinomori broke into comics as the assistant to the also-legendary Osamu Tezuka after entering an art contest when he was still in high school. Tezuka was so impressed with Ishinomori’s art that he sent him a telegraph to offer him a job, and before he graduated, his work was appearing in the pages of Astro Boy. As far as launching a career goes, that’s not exactly a bad start.

After working with Tezuka, Ishinomori branched out on his own to create a body of work that would eventually be given the Guinness World Record for the most pages published by a single author, clocking in at a pretty staggering 128,000 pages. Along the way, he created some of Japan’s most successful franchises, including the perennial relaunched Kamen Rider, which more or less invented that entire genre of shows where superheroes strike a pose and transform into masked heroes with sweet cars or giant robots.

Personally, I’m only starting to get familiar with Ishinomori’s work, having just started reading Kamen Rider at the end of last year. Dylan Todd, who wrote a primer on the Ishinomori comics that have been released digitally, and David Brothers, who has been singing the praises of Cyborg 009, however, did a lot to get me interested. And when I finally jumped in, it was every bit as great as they’d told me.

My first connection to Ishinomori, however, will always be the adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past that ran in the pages of Nintendo Power:

The way he was able to build the simple story and characters of the game into a more complex and dramatic narrative for the comic has always been impressive to me, although when I was 9, I was a little more disappointed that you couldn’t do all the cool stuff from the comic in the game. It’s taken 21 years, but I forgive you, Shotaro Ishinomori.

Despite my childhood frustrations, Ishinomori’s work continues to be pretty astonishing stuff even today, and with so much available digitally, it’s well worth checking out if you haven’t already. And if you have, give it another go to day. It’s better than buying a birthday cake, after all.

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