Shigeru Komatsuzaki: Cool Vintage SciFi Artist.

ザ・ミサイラー! (The Missiler) 1970.

For more than 2 dozen of these wonderful, beautiful, campy works, go to this gallery — put together and featured on the weird, wonderful site:  Here’s a little more information on Komatsuzaki-san (1915-2001), along with some more of his illustrations.  Many of his iconic works were done for the boxes that contained plastic models.  Certainly collectors’ items now.

A blurb from this ad for a retrospective book on Komatsuzaki and his career:

The life and works of legendary Japanese artist Shigeru Komatsuzaki, probably best known for his Gerry Anderson model kit boxtop illustrations (Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90, UFO, and Supercar models just to name a few), as well as hundreds of other model kit illustrations in all genres. He also created the Gotengo flying submarine from the film Atragon and collaborated on many designs in the film The Mysterians. This book showcases all that great art and more, including his manga work and other artistic endeavors. Many color plates are included, as well as b&w drawings. The text is all in Japanese, but Komatsuzaki’s stylistic and dynamic art speaks loud and clear in any language!


A couple more:


Shounen Magazine

Bonus eclectic, insider, language lessonーー>  there at the very top of the very top photo (“The Missiler”), you see these “characters”:


That’s katakana, the Japanese writing system/alphabet (one of three) used to phonetically spell-out foreign words, onomatopoeia, and to italicize words.  If one takes   ザ・ミサイラー and spells it back from katakana into English, you get “Zah Misairah-” which is about as close as Japanese can come to saying “The Missiler” using only Japanese sounds.  Now for something really inside, note the first letter/word/katakana:  , which is pronounced “Zah” (no “th” sound in Japanese).  Well, the root “letter” is , which has no dual dashes at its top right and is pronounced “Sah” (with an “s” not a “z” sound).  By adding the two little  marks (called “ten ten” marks in Japanese), “Sah” () turns to “Zah” () and, sounds sort of like “The.”  Here’s the fun part:  look again at the very top “The Missiler” photo and the yellow .  Check out the little ten ten marks:  they’re little rockets.


    • lestuff
    • June 22nd, 2010

    Really cool stuff! Keep it coming.

      • letsjapan
      • June 22nd, 2010

      Thanks, LeStuff. A change of pace for this site, but a shake-up every now and then is not necessarily a bad thing. Will resume with regularly scheduled blogging tomorrow.


  1. Fascinating (campy stuff) — I’ve always loved sci-fi covers… but, I’ve never looked for Japanese ones….

      • letsjapan
      • June 22nd, 2010

      Thanks for stopping by. Yes, great stuff. I’m surprised you don’t know about the whole Otaku Culture. It’s not my bag, but it’s fascinating nonetheless. It started as a word of derision, but now is, well, it just is what it is. When I was a little kid, in the late 60s, early 70s, I was a big Ultraman fan (and, from the U.S. side of things, Major Matt Mason). In fact, several months ago I updated my Halloween tribute (done in October ’09, of course) with the opening to Ultraman (see here, then go to the bottom of the page and play
      the YouTube clip:

      Stop by any time and, certainly, I’ll do the same with you spot of the ‘nets.


  2. It’s fun to see how Japan bewitches you so, like when I went to Japan for the first time as an 11-year-old boy and I was like “look at this, look at that!”

      • letsjapan
      • June 22nd, 2010

      Tim, a guy I met last year, he lives in Kyoto and has for about 30 years. He’s from Colorado. His wife’s
      Japanese, his house, his job, his town (I mean, Kyoto, c’mon) are all Japan all the time. But one time
      when we were talking he chuckled as he said, “There’s a surprise every day.” Not every one’s necessarily a good one, mind you (he added). That’s one of the things that keeps him there and one of the things that keeps me going back again and again: the combination of the “at home feeling” comfort level, along with “a surprise every day.” Well, for me it’s more like a surprise every hour. This coming August will make 26 years since the first time I lived in Japan. Just half a year that time. But, you know, I still haven’t lost that “look at this, look at that!” feeling. Like I said, it keeps me going back.


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