Note: read this page from the right side to the left since it’s unflipped manga.
Pinoko is the slightly creepy, slightly disturbing but adorably cute “daughter” of Black Jack, the mercenary doctor in Tezuku’s wonderful doctoral manga. Black Jack “adopted” her when he removed the remains of an 18 year old girl’s unborn twin sister and placed them in an artificial body. Black Jack thinks of Pinoko as his young daughter but she thinks of the doctor as her “husband” who she challenges and hen pecks. She looks like a young girl but imagines herself to be as old as her older sister. Imagine if Pinochio was Gepeto’s daughter and had an overprotective attitude towards her “father.”
“Pinoko’s Challenge” from the second volume of Vertical’s Black Jack is the story of Pinoko trying to go to school. And since she thinks of herself as a teenager, she’s convinced that she has to go to university when everyone looking at her, inclucing the doctor Black Jack, thinks that she should take it slow and just go to grade school. She doesn’t realize what it really means to go to school so Black Jack convinces her to try and really study and the above page (page 251 in the hardcover edition) is the result of her attempt.
I love how how Tezuka crams a lot of story into these three vertical columns, leading from dream to dream to dream and finally to reality by the very last panel. Pinoko’s emotions go from proud to tired to discouraged and angry in quick, rapid fire succession. In 18 panels, Tezuka manages to recreate an experience that most of us have had at sometime or another.
The great thing about this page is that even though it’s just one page from one story from a larger collection, this page is its own story with a beginning, a middle and an end. There’s a complete plot at work on this one page. Pinoko’s one page story here is brilliantly condensed and laid out in a darn cute style. You don’t need to know about the creepy background of the character. You don’t need to know anything about the world of Black Jack or unlicensed doctors to perfectly and easily understand this one, single page.
This page is easily the best recent (well, recent to me at least) example of why I love comics. While I may easily hate a lot of the current industry and hobby, there are examples of art like this that just make me swoon with each and every pen stroke. I’ve greatly enjoyed both volumes of Tezuka’s Black Jack but this page was just a lot of fun to happen across while reading volume 2. I can’t wait to see what kind of little moments Tezuka packs into future installments of Black Jack.
note pt2: You can find samples of Black Jack at Vertical’s website: http://www.vertical-inc.com/blackjack/index.html