Here at Finger Guns we don’t just cover video games. We’re also fans of TV, movies, and comics. And horror comics don’t get much better than the manga of Junji Ito. We are big fans. Junji Ito is most famous in the West for his magnum opus Uzumaki and its amazing exploration of horrific spirals. It’s an incredible read. But for some ten years before Uzumaki, and for many years after, Junji Ito has been primarily a short story artist publishing serialised stories in Japanese manga magazines and short story collections.
With Uzumaki’s success, these short stories are all starting to see the light of translation and publication in the West – many of them had only been officially published in Japan until the last 5-10 years. You have Viz Media to thank. Viz is taking the entirety of the Masterpiece Collection (the latest in Japan), translating them into English, and publishing them at a rate of some two per year, along with his newer work. And that’s amazing – these are some of the best horror manga ever committed to the page.
But if you’re a bit of a fan like me and a completionist (like a lot of gamers) you may want to make sure you’re getting every story. And that can be a little tricky to determine. Viz started the collection with a best-of volume (Shiver) but then removed those same stories from the subsequent publications of the Masterpiece volumes. They renamed them to single-word titles, and then published them in an order that had nothing to do with original publication order. I like to know where stories came from, I like to know which ones were written near each other, and I like to be able to see an artist’s progression from more amateur early work to their more accomplished signature style.
So I decided to chart it myself. There are Junji Ito infographics around online that will cover a little of this, and recommend what to read, but none charts the collections in full, right from the original publication and original collections, through the last three decades to the current Viz collection. It’s colour-coded based on the Viz Media and Masterpiece Collections so you can see at a glance where these stories are collected from originally, along with all the original cover art.
The best news of all is that the Viz Media releases, when completed, will include every short story from 1988 to 2001, every Tomie story, everything in the original two collections, both volumes of Voices in the Dark (which became Smashed), and a few others collected from random places. I found it interesting to discover that the Deserter volume held pretty much all the early work in one place, or that the first Horror Comic Collection threw publication order out the window and collected stories together from all over.
The most recent Junji Ito collections Tombs and Soichi are available from all good graphic novel and manga stockists, and Viz has announced that the next in the collection Alley will be coming in September 2024. That just leaves Headless Sculptures and The Groaning Drain to follow in the next year or so and the whole lot is complete. We can’t wait!
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