Keiji Nakazawa, the creator of the world-renowned Barefoot Gen manga about the Hiroshima atomic bombing and aftermath, passed away on December 19 at a Hiroshima hospital due to lung cancer. He was 73. At Nakazawa’s request, there will be no service.
Nakazawa was born in Hiroshima in 1939. At the age of 6, he survived the 1945 Hiroshima bombing and the loss of most of his immediate family — his father, older sister, younger brother, and younger sister. Only he, his mother, and two brothers who were not at home survived.
After graduating from middle school in 1954, he moved to Tokyo in 1961 and became a published manga creator at the age of 24 in 1963. He created several titles such as Kuroi Ame ni Utarete (Drenched by Black Rain) after the passing of his mother in 1966, before drawing his most famous work from 1973 to 1985. The resulting ten volumes of Barefoot Gen have since sold over 6.5 millon copies and have been translated in over 10 languages, including English, Russian, and Korean.
Last Gasp Publishing republished the Barefoot Gen manga in North America. The story has been adapted into two animated films and a live-action television drama special in Japan. Producer Northrop Davis and a partner have been pitching the story to Hollywood studios. Over the years, Nakazawa donated 2,735 original drawings of Barefoot Gen and at least 30 more boxes of other materials to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
Nakazawa had undergone treatment for lung cancer and related ailments in 2010 and 2011. He had abandoned plans for a new Barefoot Gen sequel in 2009 due to his worsening eyesight from a cataract and a damaged retina. However, he said, “Our generation must continue to tell of the horrors of atomic bombs and war.”
Update: More information added.