Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan: Wikis


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Cover of softcover Bat-Manga!, early design.
Author Jiro Kuwata (manga)
Translator Manga:
Anne Ishii
Lily Chow
Lu Chen
Xiaoru Chen
Illustrator Jiro Kuwata
Toshio Okazaki
Takashi Minaomuru
Cover artist Takashi Minaomura (softcover)
Jiro Kuwata (hardcover)
Country Japan, United States
Language English
Series Bat-Manga!
Subject(s) Batman phenomena in Japan
Genre(s) History
Publisher Pantheon Books
Publication date October 28, 2008
Media type graphic novel
Pages 352 (softcover)
384 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-0-375-71484-9
OCLC Number 192080568
LC Classification PN6790.J33 K8913 2008
Followed by Bat-Manga 2

Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan is a 2008 book published by Pantheon Books, subsidiary of Random House, in the United States. The book was designed by Chip Kidd with the assistance of photographer Geoff Spear. It collects a Japanese shōnen manga adaptation of the American comic book series Batman by Jiro Kuwata simply entitled Batman (バットマン Battoman ?) and also includes photographs of vintage Batman toys from Japan. The Batman manga included in Bat-Manga! was created during a Batman craze in Japan, being serialized from April 1966 to May 1967, the series ended when the craze ended. The manga was released in paperback and at the same time a limited hadcover was released in October 28, 2008, with an additional manhua bootleg and an extra Batman story by the creator.

The book got generally positive reviews, with Deb Aoki of rating it with 4 stars. It was made an issue that Chip Kidd got all the credit for Bat-Manga! instead of Jiro Kuwata, however Chip Kidd stated that the book is about the phenomena of Batman in Japan rather than just the manga itself.



In 1966, the Batman manga was created during a Batman craze in Japan, when the hit TV series came out in their country. The shōnen magazine Shōnen King and its publisher Shōnen Gahōsha licensed the rights to make their own Batman stories, which Batman's original publisher, DC Comics didn't even know about.[1][2] In 1967, the stories stopped and were never compiled into volume format.[1]

This first came to the notice of David Mazzuchelli, creator of Batman: Year One, when he went to Japan for a cartoonists convention. The Japanese told him about a manga adaptation of Batman, about which he then told his good friend, designer Chip Kidd.[3] Chip Kidd had been a serious fan of Batman ever since the young age of two. When the TV series came out in the US, Chip stayed loyal to the series even while his friends started watching Happy Days.[4]

Chip Kidd would later meet photographer Saul Ferris when Kidd was bidding on what he thought was a rare and expensive Japanese Batmobile toy. Ferris emailed that Batman's head had been extracted from the Batmobile, rendering the toy worthless. Shortly afterward, Chip Kidd and Saul Ferris became friends and started to put together the Bat-Manga!.[5][6] The Batman manga was released in English in the book Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan, translated into English by Anne Ishii and designed by Chip Kidd, with the help of photographer, Geoff Spear. As neither DC Comics nor Shōnen Gahōsha had issues that held the original manga; various collectors issues were translated and compiled into the only English volume.[7]


Bat-Manga! was released in English, trade paperback on October 28, 2008 (ISBN 978-0-375-71484-9) with an exclusive interview with the creator of the original manga, Jiro Kuwata and pictures of vintage Batman toys.[1] A limited edition hardcover (ISBN 978-0-375-42545-5) was released at the same time with a distinctly different cover, expanded, and with an additional extra short-story by Jiro Kuwata,[8] and the Bat-Manhua (Chinese: 神之洲菲 蝠蝙黑 俠飛[n 1] Fēixiá Hēibiānfú Fēizhōu zhī Shén, lit. "Batman: The God of Africa"), a Chinese manhua bootleg. Only 7,000 hardcover issues were released, with additional bookplates signed by him and Jiro Kuwata.[10] At Rocketship, a comic store in Brooklyn, New York, Chip Kidd gave out exclusive bookplates to people who got their manga signed at the event.[11][12] New drawings of Bat-Manga! were found in archive issues of Shōnen King, and Chip Kidd mentioned the long-hinted sequel Bat-Manga 2.[13]


Bat-Manga! got generally positive reviews from critics.'s Deb Aoki lists Bat-Manga! as the best "new edition of classic manga" of 2008.[14] The manga got a 4 out of 5 star review from Deb Aoki of "At a time when superhero comics are dark and grim, reading Bat-Manga is a blast from a simpler past, when comics were largely created for and read by kids" sai Deb, "These stories from the '60s lack complex character development, detailed artwork and snappy dialogue that contemporary fans expect from comics, but they do feature dynamic action scenes, crisp art and unusual interpretations of the Batman mythos that are infectiously fun to read". Deb went one, "On the upside, it's delightful to see Kuwata's artwork presented with such class and style, and to read an interview with the now 70-something year old manga master".[15] Reviever Ted Anthony of Associated Press said, "That blending is what infuses such fascination into "Bat-Manga!" — designer Kidd's gorgeous examination of the odd collision between American comic-book superheroes and Japanese manga that took place in Japan in 1966 and 1967, the heyday of the Batman-as-high-camp period in the United States" Ted descired the series as if someone threw some DC Comics issues, a few Godzilla sequels and some "Speed Racer" episodes into a blender. "Granted, $60 is a high price for a glorified comic book, particularly in the current economy," said Ted however he stated that it's more than a simple comic book, it's more of a cultural document.[16] Frank Santaro of Publishers Weekly also gave Bat-Manga! a positive review. Frank Santaro admired the yellow paper and purple ink, restoring the pages of how a Japanese kid would read it long ago. "Drawn in this golden sunshine (okay, purple) of mid-'60s classic Japanese manga, these stories capture the feeling of being a kid on Saturday morning."[17] Bat-Manga! had an estimated rank of 180 on ComiPress's "Top 300 Series of 2008", with Naruto at #1.[18]

Meltdown Comics, a comic book store which promoted the book itself, gave Bat-Manga! a positive review.

It has also been raised as an issue that Chip Kidd got all the credit for Bat-Manga! instead of Jiro Kuwata. Chip Kidd responded to these claims[19], "First, Bat-Manga is not just about the work of Mr. Kuwata, although that of course makes up the bulk of the book. Rather, it is about chronicling the phenomenon, however short-lived, of Batman in Japan in 1966"[20] Nisha Gopalan of Los Angeles Times, considered this debatable, "it should also be noted that "Bat-Manga!" feels like a radical packaging of Kuwata's work and that the creator is interviewed and given multiple credits within its pages"[21]


  1. ^ Written in Chinese, traditionaly spelled from right to left and read in the same direction. The title spelled more modern is 飛俠 俠蝙蝠 菲洲之神.[9]


  1. ^ a b c "Bat-Manga!". Pantheon Books. Retrieved 2009-01-03.  
  2. ^ "Bat-Manga!". The New Yorker. The New Yorker. 2008-11-03. Retrieved 2009-01-03.  
  3. ^ Aoki, Deb (2008-07-29). "Comic-Con '08 Catch-up: Bat Manga! With Chip Kidd". Retrieved 2009-01-04.  
  4. ^ "Comics: Across Every Medium" (PDF). Comic-Con Magazine (San Diego, CA: San Diego Comic-Con International) 4 (3): 24. 2008. OCLC 294859113.  
  5. ^ Rick Kleffel. 'Bat-Manga!' Reveals The Caped Crusader In Japan National Public Radio: Audience Services Podcast accessed on 2009-04-07.
  6. ^ Kleffel, Rick (January 26, 2009). "'Bat-Manga!' Reveals The Caped Crusader In Japan" (PHP). 635 Massachusetts Ave, Washington, DC 200: National Public Radio: Audience Services. Retrieved Tuesday, April 7, 2009.  
  7. ^ "Bat Manga! The Secret History of Batman in Japan". ICv2. 2008-01-16. Retrieved 2009-01-03.  
  8. ^ "Bat-Manga! (Limited Harcover Edition)". Pantheon Books. Retrieved 2009-01-03.  
  9. ^ Aoki, Deb. "San Diego Comic-Con 2008 - Chinese Batman Comics". Retrieved 2009-01-06.  
  10. ^ Kidd, Chip (August 25, 2008). "Signing My Life Away." (PHP). Good Is Dead.. Retrieved April 4, 2009.  
  11. ^ "Bat-Manga Production Team at Brooklyn Comic Shop". Anime News Network. 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2009-01-06.  
  12. ^ Kidd, Chip (December 3, 2008). "Rocketship!" (PHP). Good Is Dead.. Retrieved Wednesday, April 8, 2009.  
  13. ^ Aoki, Deb. "Manga Review: Bat Manga! The Secret History of Batman in Japan". Retrieved 2009-01-03.  
  14. ^ Aoki, Deb. "2008 Best New Manga". Retrieved 2009-08-20.  
  15. ^ Aoki, Deb. "Bat Manga! The Secret History of Batman in Japan". Retrieved 2009-01-03.  
  16. ^ Anthony, Ted (2008-12-10). "Batman and Japan: In a new book, perfect together". Yahoo!.;_ylt=AviIVmjQ73Sceizv_HbYh0FREhkF. Retrieved 2009-01-05.  
  17. ^ Santaro, Frank (2008-10-27). "Bat-Manga: Go Go Go!". Publishers Weekly. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2009-01-05.  
  18. ^ Blind, Matt (2008-10-27). "2008: Top 300 Series of 2008". ComiPress. Retrieved 2009-01-10.  
  19. ^ "Bat-Manga Editor Chip Kidd to Appear in LA, SF, NYC". Anime News Network. 2008-11-11. Retrieved 2009-01-03.  
  20. ^ "Chip Kidd responds to ‘Bat-Manga’ criticisms". 2008-11-07. Retrieved 2009-01-03.  
  21. ^ Gopalan, Nisha (2008-11-09). "'Bat-Manga' is an exhilarating pop-culture expedition". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-01-03.  

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