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Publishers of award-winning illustrated books on art, history, archaeology, world cultures and more.

Manga and the Museum

The latest temporary exhibition to grace Room 3 is well worth a visit if you haven’t been already – entitled ‘Manga now: three generations’, it’s the perfect introduction to an art form that most of us have heard of, but few of us understand.

It’s only relatively recently that the significance of manga as an art form has been widely recognised by the West – many people falsely assumed that manga equated to cartoons and was aimed primarily at children and teenagers. However, in Japan, manga is enjoyed by audiences of all ages and covers a wide variety of genres and societal issues.

In fact, the exhibition’s first surprise comes when it reveals just how far back Manga’s origins lie – the term was first coined by Hokusai (of The Great Wave fame) and can be playfully translated as ‘pictures run riot’. The art form was developed in the early 20th century but is based on traditional Japanese artistic and literary genres that stretch much further back – the narrative handscrolls that were produced from AD 1100 and illustrated printed books from the 1700s onwards.

Although the British Museum has collected manga for over 60 years, it has only recently begun to acquire drawings and paintings by contemporary manga artists. This display has been designed to celebrate these recent acquisitions, and features the work of three leading contemporary artists. Nakamura Hikaru is currently the seventh bestselling manga artist in Japan and represents the most recent generation of manga artists. Chiba Tetsuya is a specialist of sports manga that relate a young person’s struggle for recognition through dedication to sport.

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Works by the three artists - Nakamura Hikaru, Hoshino Yukinobu and Chiba Tetsuya

In between these two generations we have Hoshino Yyukinobu, one of Japan’s best-known science fiction manga artists who also specialises in mystery. One of his most popular works has been Case Records of Professor Munakata, and following visits to London in 2008 and 2009, he decided to create a number of episodes set in the British Museum. In these, crime-fighting anthropologist Munakata Tadakusu investigates a spate of thefts from the museum. The British Museum Press had the pleasure of publishing these in English as Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure in 2011, and you can see some of the illustrations in the gallery. In this compilation of ten episodes Professor Munakata embarks on a series of exciting adventures at the British Museum, featuring some of its most iconic objects – from the Rosetta Stone to the Lewis Chessmen.

Professor Munakata visiting the British Museum

We hope that you learn as much from the display as we did, and enjoy seeing one of our books in the limelight! If you’re feeling inspired you can pick up a copy of Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure from the gift shop on your way out, or online here if you can’t wait til then!

Professor Munakata

Exclusive artwork by Hoshino Yukinobu

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To celebrate the upcoming release of Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure we’ve been working with the book’s creator-  leading manga artist, Hoshino Yukinobu- to produce some exclusive Professor Munakata themed bookplates.

Hoping to offer a small run of bookplate prints for Professor Munakata readers, imagine our delight when 200 individually signed and drawn bookplates arrived from Japan! As well as his signature, every bookplate which Hoshino Yukinobu created also features an individual, hand-drawn image of Professor Munakata – making each plate a unique work of art direct from one of Japan’s most celebrated artists.

These exclusive bookplates will be available to pick up along with your copy of Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure at the British Museum manga event on 25 November.

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Read more about Hoshino Yukinobu’s work in our last blog post or read the rest of this entry for some fascinating facts about the history of bookplates, as explored in our illustrated introduction to the subject: Ex Libris: The Art of Bookplates.

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Hoshino Yukinobu and Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure

Lots of excitement this week as our first ever manga,  Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure, by Hoshino Yukinobu, is now printing and will be arriving at British Museum Press HQ in less than two months!  In anticipation of its publication Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere, who has been working with Hoshino sensei on the project since its inception, took a trip to Japan to show the artist the final proofs of  his book. We asked Nicole to tell us a little more about her trip, Hoshino Yukinobu, and his thoughts on the English  publication of Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure. Read the rest of this entry to see what she had to report.

Through her work with Hoshino Yukinobu, Nicole inspired the character of Chris in Professor Munakata's British Museum Adventure

Nicole's work with Hoshino Yukinobu inspired the character of Chris in Professor Munakata's British Museum Adventure

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Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure

Professor Munakata's British Museum Adventure

Here’s a sneak preview of the cover artwork for our upcoming manga, Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure.

Due out in October, Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure is the first ever manga published by the British Museum Press and the result of a great collaboration between the Museum and leading Japanese artist, Hoshino Yukinobu.

The story revolves around Hoshino sensei’s most famous character, Japanese ethnologist Professor Munakata Tadakusu who has dedicated his life to unravelling the mysteries of Japan’s past.  When the Professor travels to Britain for the first time to deliver a special lecture at the British Museum he is quickly and unexpectedly drawn into a criminal plot that endangers the museum and its famous collections. The threats appear to stem from repatriation claims – but do they? And who is demanding the objects’ return?

Professor Munakata eventually uncovers a conspiracy embedded in the very heart of the museum-  but that is all we can say for  now, for the full story you will have to read the book!

Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure will be available from the British Museum shop from 26th October 2011. For more information visit the British Museum Press webpage.

Retail Recommends

Specialist booksellers from the British Museum Bookshop give their recommendations for the best illustrated titles across art, archaeology history and world cultures. This week Sandra and Akemi pick their favourite gift books:

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Look Here is a little book filled with big surprises! This wordless book is a playful take on the museums’ collection which invites you to explore the visual idiosyncrasies and  connections across cultures and time in a witty way. Parents and children alike will love it.” – Sandra

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” Illustrated with beautiful paintings, the Haiku Animals anthology is full of warm, nostalgic stories that will instantly transport any reader to old time Japan.” – Akemi, bookseller

Want to tell the world about your favourite BMP title? We’re always happy to hear that our books are well-loved, so why not post your recommendations below…