Jiro Kuwata (1935-2020) started out as a manga artist at the young age of 13 and is without any doubt one of the greatest post-war manga artists.
His career was defined in 1957, when he created Maboroshi Tantei (Phantom Detective) which was adapted into a Television show in 1959. Since then his main subject was sci-fi and superhero adventure. His most famous was 8 Man but also X-Man, Moonlight Mask and Ultra Seven.
In 1966, when Shonen Gahosha acquired the Batman rights (for Japan), they entrusted him with the project. For this project he chose to use Osamu Tezuka’s style and fused golden age techniques with the Batman of Bob Kane’s period; a Mount Rushmore style Batman head, the widest cars ever seen and a loads of mad scientists
He continued his manga work until the end of the 1970s, but also ran into depression and alcoholism. In 1977, he converted to Buddhism and only occasionally got back into manga work. In 1992, he agreed to do the final issue of 8 Man.
Jiro Kuwata is a forerunner of the realistic drawing style known as gekiga. He mixed his sci-fi stories with a cinematic style and more mature themes such as abuse, broken relationships and addiction.
Fun fact : He served as the ghostwriter / artist for ‘Astro Boy’ in place of Tezuka when Tezuka was sick for a long time.