Junji Ito and the Art of Horror

Junji Itō. You may have seen or read his work before; it is instantly recognizable in its black-and-white glory, unsettling in an unusual way. 

Master of Horror, Junji Ito, with a few of his pieces

Itō grew up with two older sisters who would read magazines with works by Kazuo Umezu and Shinichi Koga; these sorts of horror mangas were popular in the 1900s for their graphic illustrations and visual creepiness. As a result, he was exposed to horror at a young age. Later on, this undoubtedly influenced his work, the idea of odd and seemingly innocuous subjects hiding horror behind a blank mask. 

It was in 1984 when Itō started writing and drawing manga as a hobby. In 1987 he submitted a work to a magazine called Gekkan Halloween, a famous Japanese horror journal, where his work received an honorable mention. The piece he submitted was later serialized as Tomie, a series of stories about a beautiful and eternal woman who has the ability to cause anyone to fall madly in love with her. It has become one of the most well-known Japanese horror stories to date, and it is even accompanied by a television series based on the story.

His acclaimed work spans nearly a hundred volumes filled with stories in the same black-and-white style. Although the characters on the surface seem innocent and like any other manga character, they are immediately unsettling. Although the art is stylized, it is still deeply rooted in the modern world, and each story has its own unique plot. Through the common items in the world, Itō can terrorize the reader, producing the grotesque out of the everyday. His works manage to portray their message even through the gore; many films or stories don’t manage to do this, with the blood distracting the viewer from the wider picture.

Junji Itō is undoubtedly a master in not only the world of art and manga but also in horror. It is through his stories and images that he projects his unique mind to audiences around the world.

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