In The Mysterious Underground Men, author Osamu Tezuka utilizes splash pages in unique and intriguing ways. Two examples can be seen on page 80 and 90. The splash page on 80 depicts the history of the group of “termites” that live at the center of the earth. There is a single image on the page, centered but concentrated on the top half of the page. Beneath this large panel is a section of text elaborating on the image, like a narration. I’m not sure if this is classified as a stereotypical splash page, but it is definitely interesting. It functions similarly to a flashback, recounting the history of the termites and how they came to be, but it only lasts across two pages and the termites aren’t even really pictured here. The purpose of these two pages is to take the readers out of the comic, to transport them through space and time and relocate them in a different time period and location, similarly to how a flashback would. We are presented with a new set of images within an entirely different format, which is a bit of a jarring change. It feels almost like a large-scale thought bubble that bleeds off of the pages.

On page 90 there is a more traditional-looking splash page, but still executed with Tezuka’s unique style. Pictured is a newspaper headline reading, “EMERGENCY! MYSTERIOUS EXPLOSION! SKYSCRAPERS BLOWN TO BITS, IMMEASURABLE DAMAGE,” fused with crumbling buildings engulfed in an explosion. It’s an interesting way to combine panels into one, larger image, but also creates a stronger feeling of chaos. It is additionally intriguing to consider that, as readers, we use closure to separate these two images and establish a connection, to determine that this isn’t just floating text in the sky and it’s a newspaper headline. The headline functions as a form of narration box. Also, this splash page acts as a scene change, a transition between the two worlds, the underground and society above ground.

Did you notice other examples of splash pages in Tezuka’s work? What do they do for the text?