April 19, 2019

MONKEY PUNCH R.I.P.

Japanese manga artist Monkey Punch (Kazuhiko Katō) passed away on April 11th. Spy Vibers might be familiar with his famous creation, Lupin III, a popular character who debuted his special brand of international intrigue, action, and humor in the pages of Weekly Manga Action in 1967. From Deadline: "The title character is a master thief named Arsène Lupin III who brings a notorious heritage to his vocation- he is presented as the grandson of Arsène Lupin, the “gentleman thief” who had been introduced five decades earlier by French author Maurice Leblanc. Young Katō immersed himself in Leblanc’s vintage tales and hatched the idea of a third-generation heir to the Lupin legacy as a manga protagonist. Wrapping his anti-hero in a flashy red jacket, the young manga illustrator incorporated elements of James Bond into his new creation and based supporting characters on actors (like James Coburn) or Western pop culture influences (among them Mad Magazine, Hitchcock films, Popeye and pin-up girl art). Lupin III (often accompanied by his small but elite crew of specialists) is pursued by Inspector Koichi Zenigata of Interpol, the dutiful detective who doggedly pursues his slippery quarry." My first introduction to Lupin III was viewing re-runs of the classic anime series after school when I lived in Japan. Even when the plot veered away from my vocabulary, I was completely enthralled with the interaction between the characters, the sense of romance, cool action sequences, and never-ending laughs. Monkey Punch's creation has lived on through many incarnations in print, on screen (including work by Miyazaki Hayao), and has even inspired countless Jazz and re-mix albums -look for the Punch the Monkey series from Readymade Records (Pizzicato Five). Monkey Punch was eighty-one. More info at the New York Times


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