The most crucial lesson I’ve learned from this year’s Comic Con is that if the always-hilarious Chip Kidd is willing to show up somewhere and watch cartoons with you, just go!!! I’m serious: DO NOT MISS IT! Kidd is continuing his crusade to bring greater attention to the strange confluence of Japanese and American pop culture in the wake of the international success of the Batman TV series in the 1960s, which resulted in the phenomenon explored in his recent book, Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan. In addition to discussing the book yesterday, Kidd provided a preview of new materials he hopes to include in a sequel to Bat-Manga!, including recently discovered original artwork by Jiro Kuwata, the prolific manga artist responsible for creating Batman comics in Japan.
Kuwata’s work, as well as the toys and other merchandise that Kidd has been able to turn up, is endlessly fun and fascinating, especially if you grew up loving crazy Adam West as much as I did. Even better, however, was the fact that Kidd bracketed his discussion with an episode of 8th Man, featuring another Kuwata creation, anime superhero Tobor the Eighth Man. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to track down the entire episode, which basically involved Tobor repeatedly failing to defeat a vicious swarm of evil mutant honeybees, but for those unfamiliar with the show I’ve at least included the opening theme song below. As ridiculous as the cartoon is, Kuwata’s style is visually amazing (at one point Kidd commented that the show has “camera shots out of Citizen Kane,” and he’s right!). Check it out, but be forewarned: I’ve had this goofy song in my head all day (and I still have no idea why the Martians sent a prehistoric monster to destroy us in the first place…).