VERTICAL WILL BE RELEASING BLACK JACK!
Yes, you read that right!
According to a PW article, what many consider Osamu Tezuka's finest work has been licensed by Vertical, and they are planning to begin releasing it in Fall 2008. While I've geeked to know we get MW and Dororo, Black Jack has been on the top of my wish list for many, many years. (News via MangaCast)
Previously, Viz had attempted to publish Black Jack, but only released two volumes before discontinuing the series due to licensing conflicts with Tezuka Productions and poor sales (According to Viz folks at this summer's Tezuka Panel in SF). The books are very out-of-print and a bit of a pain to track down:
Of course, the market for manga has changed and Vertical's shown that if you package Tezuka's classic manga as luxury editions, they can sell and turn a profit. I've read various Black Jack collections here and there in Japanese, but having a release by Vertical (with Chip Kidd-ified covers a la Buddha) is a dream come true.
In the meantime, you can check out descriptions of all the Black Jack stories over at this Tezuka World page. They also have included references and guest appearances from other Tezuka manga. A few favorites:
Amidst Fire and Ashes - March 24, 1975
The president of a big company and his son argue over the management of their company. The President wants his son to succeed him, but the son rejects his offer and even threatens to ruin the company. The son falls into the crater of a volcano, and is badly burned. Discovering that he was pushed by his father, Black Jack performs an operation to treat the entangled relationship between them, while all the while the volcano continues to erupt violently.
Wildcat Boy - March 13, 1978
Black Jack visits a clinic in the mountains at the request of a French doctor named Truffaut. There he finds a micro cephalic boy who was raised by a wildcat. His flattened parietal apparently indicates that his head had been sandwiched by objects soon after his birth. If he were to be left untreated, he would not live long. BJ performs an orthopedic operation on his skull and starts to train him to behave like a human. But...
And as far as Black Jack stories go, that's seriously just the tip of the iceberg...
(Click picture above for more Black Jack cosplayers!)
According the the article, the 25 volume series will be printed in wideban format (Vertical estimates their complete English edition will run 12 volumes). Like other Tezuka releases, it's assumed that the pages will be flipped for the English edition.