There is new information from San Diego Comic-Con and The Beat regarding the 2023 Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame.
Among the new nominees is a list of automatic inductees and a selection of creators from around the world who will be up for vote-in-induction. Included in the latter category is Barefoot Gen Creator Keiji Nakazawa, the late manga creator known for Barefoot Gen, a story about the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and the harrowing aftermath.
Nakazawa was previously nominated for the Hall of Fame in 2020 but was not inducted. Keiji Nakazawa was born in Hiroshima in 1939. At the age of six, he survived the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and the loss of most of his immediate family, his father, older sister, younger sister, and brother. Only he, his mother, and his two brothers were not home survived.
After Mr. Nakazawa graduated from middle school, he would later move to Tokyo in 1961 and became a published manga creator at the age of 24. He would produce short stories for manga anthologies such as Shōnen Gaho, Shōnen King, and Bokura. After the loss of his mother in 1966, he returned to the memories of the destruction of Hiroshima and began to express them in his stories. Kuroi Ame ni Uraete (Struck by Black Rain) was the first of five books, a fictional story of Hiroshima Survivors that were involved in the Postwar Black Market.
Nakazawa chose to portray his own experience in a story titled Ore Wa Mita, which was published in Shueisha’s Monthly Shonen Jump Magazine. Last Gasp Publishing announced that it would release I Can’t Forget the Bomb: Barefoot Gen and the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima: A Memoir book, and I Saw It, later this month. The company also republished Barefoot Gen in North America. Barefoot Gen was the first Japanese Comic to be published in Western Languages and was adapted into two animated films and a live-action TV drama and has been translated into a dozen languages.
On August 20th, 2009, there was the discovery of an undelivered letter from the manga creator to Barack Obama, who was the President of the United States at the time, asking him to listen to the stories of the atomic bombing survivors, also lauding a speech made in Prague in April 2009. Also, according to The Mainichi, The letter mentioned Obama’s visit to an exhibit on the A-bomb held in Chicago in 2007 and included Nakazawa’s speculation that viewing this exhibit led Obama to want a world free of nuclear weapons. The letter urged Obama to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, see the atomic bomb museums there, and hear what the A-bomb survivors have to say, to strengthen his resolve against nuclear weapons and enable him to convince other nuclear-armed nations to disarm. While Nakazawa passed away in 2012, his wife Misayo was pleased by the President’s visit to Hiroshima, saying that the discovery of the letter, Perhaps my husband’s soul wanted somebody to find the letter.
Barefoot Gen is the powerful, tragic, autobiographical story of the bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath, seen through the eyes of the artist as a young boy growing up in Japan. The honest portrayal of emotions and experiences speaks to children and adults everywhere. Barefoot Gen serves as a reminder of the suffering war brings to innocent people, and as a unique documentation of an especially horrible source of suffering, the atomic bomb.
Source: San Diego Comic-Con, The Beat
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