Panels from three manga series by author Naoki Urasawa. The three series are Pluto, 20th Century Boys, and Monster.

I discovered Urasawa back in 2008, and he was my gateway into manga. He possesses a grasp of the sequential art form that I think is unparalleled. I remember finding his comics back in 2008 and thinking “oh! This is what I’m trying to do with my comics.” I don’t mean that our drawing styles are particularly similar, I don’t think they are, but I’ve heard him describe himself as a “director” when he draws his comics. He is a director drawing actors and their actions moving across the page. I think this is a lovely way to make comics, and something I’ve striven to convey in my work as well. I want the emotions and struggles and joys and accomplishments of the characters I’m drawing to leap off the page. 

I highly recommend everything Urasawa has done. He’s had three series published in English: Pluto, a retelling of an old Astro Boy story about a future where mankind and human-like robots live side by side, Monster, a dark thriller about a doctor trying to stop a serial killer, and 20th Century Boys, the twisty-est homage ever to rock and roll’s failure to save the world.

If you are interested in reading Urasawa’s work, I suggest starting with Pluto. It’s only 8 volumes and a wonderful, tense science fiction tale. 20th Century Boys is his master work, a 24-volume series that hasn’t yet been completely published in English (volume 22 came out yesterday and was so great it prompted this post). Monster is 18 volumes and unfortunately mostly out of print. It’s a fantastic series until the 14th volume, then kind of spins its wheels for a bit, then climaxes in an insane bloodbath that is petrifying to read. 

If you are interested in making comics, I recommend you check Urasawa’s work out. Even if it is not to your taste, I think he has a lot to offer the craft of comics and those who would like to learn. :)

You can buy all of Urasawa’s work from the Viz Signature line, and also check your local library, as librarians tend to like/stock his comics.