Monday, February 01, 2010


(This post is part of a series I've tagged as "early manga days, chronicling rare/weird gems from the beginning of manga's now 30+ year history of publication in English)

Noted in Manga! Manga! by Frederik Schodt as one of the first manga published in an American publication with "its original artwork intact", "Violence Becomes Tranquility" is a short and colorful 10-page story by Shinobu Kazu. It appeared in the March 1980 issue of Heavy Metal, the long-running science fiction and fantasy comics magazine published by Leonard Mogel.

Shinobu Kaze is given a detailed profile in this section of Manga Zombie, which I highly recommend you check out right now. This great article includes tons of fantastic covers and pages of his work from the '70s, '80s, and '90s, and a great overview on his "masterpiece", 'Ryū, Strongest Man on the Face of the Planet'(Chijō Saikyū no Otoko, Ryū). According to Manga Zombie, Shinobu Kaze was influences heavily by French artist Philippe Druillet, and found his creative home among Japanese and American Science Fiction fans. (They also mention he spent a lot of time hanging out at SF Cons in the States during the Eighties!).

Known in the late '70s and '80s for being home to "adult" comics by folks like Moebius and other European artists, Heavy Metal was an American spin-off of the successful French anthology magazine, Métal Hurlant. Coming out of the French comics and SF scene (which was always a bit hipper and faster to catch on to Japanese pop culture exports), it's not a huge surprise in retrospect that Heavy Metal was the first US home to this type of manga. At the time "Violence Becomes Tranquility", Heavy Metal's editor was a guy named Ted White, who worked as a magazine editor in the 1970s at the Science Fiction monthlies Amazing Stories and Fantastic. It's not clear from the issue itself who exactly was involved in choosing to feature a comic from Japan, but I'd be very interested to hear more from anyone with insights.

Only a few months later, the December 1980 issue of Heavy Metal featured the now-famous pin-up painting by 80s hotshot, Hajime Sorayama:

Sorayama continued to work for Heavy Metal in the '80s, producing the back cover painting for the August 1981 issue.

A few years after the volunteer-produced first English edition of Barefoot Gen, but a full two years before San Francisco published Educomics released their color comic "I Saw It" (another Nakazawa adaptation), "Violence Becomes Tranquility" marks an interesting milestone in the early history of manga publication in English.

Here for your pleasure, are scans of the complete 10-page comic, from the original copy I tracked down on eBay. Enjoy!

Violence Becomes Tranquility by Shinobu Kaze
Published in the March 1980 issue of Heavy Metal

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Page 8

Page 9

Page 10

Listed on the copyright page of the issue (March 1980, Vol. III No. 11):
"Violence Becomes Tranquility" by Shinobu Kaze © 1980, Shinobu Kaze and Hiro Media Associates, Inc. Tokyo.


Azraelito said...

Brilliant story I also have of him Heart and Steel of epic illustrated!!

I hope one day we can have ryu strongest man of earth licensed!!

Great post! Really thx a lot for the scan!!

Saludos as always from argentina!

sk.nite said...

He had the ultimate weapon in front of him all the time. It was the guitar.

@Azraelito: che boludo de qué parte de argentina sos? :|

Ryan S said...

@Azraelito: Glad you enjoyed this post!

So wait, you have a copy of Epic Illustrated #11 from February 1982? Damn, that's awesome! I just looked and saw it for 99 or best off on Ebay:

Nice to hear from you, my friend!

@sk.nite: hahaha, I know right? Pretty goofy (and awesome).

tomorrowboy 2.9 said...

It's interesting to see what the first manga released in English were.

Now I'm wondering what everyone's first manga was.

(I think mine might have been Orion by Shirow, which I bought after reading a review in Wizard, and which made absolutely no sense at all to 12 year old me. After that it was probably Mixxzine.)


So good! Nudity is a plus. fun action! The movies are pretty fun too.

Ryan S said...

@tomorrowboy: Yeah, I am really interested in finding out more about the early days. Since I live in San Francisco, and Viz's main office is also in SF, you can find lots of early floppies and comics they published at used book shops--- stuff like Mai, The Psychic Girl and other (less-good) early titles.

I should start a post with your question-- for folks to jump in and talk about their first manga experience, that's a great idea!

I came in through Anime (like a lot of folks), primarily from Akira/Battle Angel/Devil Hunter Yohko in Junior High. I think my first manga that I ever read was also Mixxzine! I had a subscription, I remember :) I borrowed most everything early on from Evan's manga habit, so I remember the first manga in book form that I read (as distinct from just watching anime) were Ghost in the Shell, Adolf by Tezuka, and Maison Ikkoku. But yeah, Mixxzine! With Magic Knight Rayearth, Parasite and... what else was it?

Here's a post I wrote for EAZB a while back about Akira Fascination (with an embarrassing photo of me and some cool commentary by Dash Shaw and other folks: )

tomorrowboy 2.9 said...

Ice Blade! And Sailor Moon! (How did you forget that one?)

Ryan S said...

@tomorrowboy: oh shit! that's right SAILOR MOON! But I used to always skim both Ice Blade & Sailor Moon... It wasn't until PULP that I actually read everything in a manga magazine :)

now i want to re-read Ice Blade. was it any good, I can't remember?

David King said...

John Workman (according to Wikipedia) was art director at Heavy Metal in '80 and it also looks like his lettering on this story. He might be able to tell you more about how this made it into HM...I don't know how to get in touch with him or anything, but he's around--Todd Klein talked to him a few eeks ago:

Joseph Luster said...

I'll be sorely disappointed if someone doesn't have the bottom half of page 6 tattooed on their back by the time I'm done typing this comment.

Great comic, insane colors and layout.

I was just trying to think of what my first manga was. Gosh, probably Tank Police or something like that.

sk.nite said...

I'm going to translate this into spanish. Hope that's ok with you.

zytroop said...


Azraelito said...

Ryan: Epic Illustrated is one of the finest anthologies that ever existed in the us. They also published one short story of a demon done by go nagai and a short story done by ken tsukikage!!

Here is the link with all the numbers and all the things that each one has!!

Archie goodwin was a legendary editor that gave chance to a lot of incredible authors, whom nowadays are gods!!


Soy de buenos aires,de capital federal del barrio de belgrano r!!

Trabajo para la revista komikku si te gusta el manga y el anime. Tengo blog hablo de miles de pelotudeces y tengo una columna en la revista comiqueando en el sitio online llamado hazte fan! Mas alla de eso hago mas cosas pero bueno!!

y vos?

Saludos ryan!!

Azraelito said...

sorry for writing two times!!

did anyone check the story that kaze shinobu did for neo devilman??

It is incredible!! I read it in scan!!

I put some pics in my blog, you can check that it is tagged by kaze shinobu!!

The storytelling and how it is drawn is amazing!!

Ryan S said...

@Azraelito: Thanks for that link-- spent some time looking through the issue summaries for EPIC ILLUSTRATED-- I've never actually seen an issue in person, I don't think. But now, I'm really curious! This shows my own ignorance, but I didn't know that Charles Burns was ever published in Heavy Metal either. I'm gonna use this page to put together a rough, sequential list of manga pubished in English :) Thanks dude!!!

For other folks, here are those scans from the Neo-Devliman story that Shinobu Kaze did, on Azraelito's site:

RSS said...

Crazy fucking find! I've never been into Heavy Metal, but my exposure to it has been mostly thru the TV show. Anyways, fantastic color on this! And I'm definitely a guy who likes his B&W over most any color. But goddamn, page 10 kinda makes you want a full, yakuza-style backpiece.

Anonymous said...

I worked in the art department at HM during Ted White's year as editor. Besides editing two sf mags, he is also the author of 17 books -- including "The Great Gold Steal" a 1966 novel about Captain America. He was also one of the first comic fans from the early 1950s, among many other things.

Anyway, as far as I remember, "Violence" was a blind submission to the magazine. It may have come into the mag before Ted got there, as there was a huge pile of material that had accumulated, but was never looked at by the previous editor. Ted pulled it out of the "slush pile," and put it into the magazine.

I'm not sure that many of us had seen much in the way of manga before this, except for perhaps Tezuka, but we all thought it was worth publishing anyway. But the thing that really cinched it was the fact that the strip very closely resembled -- in rendering, design, and coloring -- the work of the French cartoonist and fantacist, Philippe Druillet.

Druillet was one of the founding partners at Metal Hurlant and HM had published as much of his work as we could get our hands on. We all welcomed the opportunity to publish something else that seemed to be inspired by his work. "Violence" fit the bill.

The fact that the strip was from Japan was cool, but it wasn't really the main reason why it was published. I hope this helps fill in some holes for you. Thanks.

Dan Steffan

Ryan S said...

Welcome to Same Hat, Dan!

Thank you so much for taking the time to write up this information for us. This period of comics publishing, (and particularly Manga publishing in America) is extremely interesting to me and it's awesome to hear these details about the Shinobu Kaze comic.

I'm going to post your answer up as an update on the main blog! Thanks Dan :)

Anonymous said...

--They also published one short story of a demon done by go nagai and a short story done by ken tsukikage!!--

in what issue is the tsukikage story featured?

Ryan S said...

@Anonymous: I looked for it too, and couldn't find that listed--- Azraelito, any further details?!

Thanks, my friend

CJ said...

That's one of the most beautiful things I've ever read-like Quentin Tarantino directing a movie adaptation of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Has it been collected in any place where I'd be able to hold it in my hands?

Ryan S said...

@CJ: as mentioned in the post, you can see the original in print, the March 1980 issue of Heavy Metal.

I got my copy off of eBay for like 4 bucks + shipping!