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?
2 comments on "Tezuka’s Unique Splash Pages"
I also found those two splash pages intriguing, especially page 90. I thought that Tezuka presenting the newspaper amidst the chaos and destruction was a creative way for him to insert narration, spatial transition and action within the same page. For similar reasons, I really like the splash page (or is it a splash spread?) on pages 98 and 99. This type of splash page, depicting the Black Demon Club invading the hideout, contains several moments of action occurring at the same time. We’ve seen this type of splash page in other works, with one example being the Asterisk strip shown on one of the Class Power Points, but I think this pair of pages nicely illustrates the hectic and confusing nature of this encounter. With the chaos occurring across both pages, the splash page establishes how this confusion continues the narrative of the manga, as shown by Mimio accidentally attacking Uncle Bill on the next page. Thus, I like how these splash pages both highlight action and demonstrate how the confusion in understanding what is occurring on these pages foreshadows Mimio’s confusion on the following page. Nice post!
I also loved how Tezuka included various styles of splash pages in this comic. I think my favorites are on pages 8 and 9. I suppose page 8 might not even be a splash page at all, but conceiving of the three images (panels?) on that page as a single functional unit helps show how broken Young John’s world has become after his father’s death and how emotional that loss has made him. On page 9, the door spanning a full page stands in dark contrast to the large amount of negative space present on the previous page, almost like a slap in the face. Very quickly we’ve moved away from Young John’s story and have transitioned to the surgery room and the experimentation on Mimio. I think Tezuka innovates with these splash pages by demonstrating that splash pages do not only have to be used to show a lot of action. Sometimes these splash pages can be very simple and instead highlight emotional moments or transitions within the plot.