The objective of this contribution is to create a first, ideal mapping of a “category” of manga that has experienced and is still experiencing a very successful season. Although they are generically identified with the term “horror manga” or “horror comics,” these manga should be placed within a narrative universe so magmatic as to escape, however, any univocal representation. When we speak of Japanese horror, in fact, we tend to imagine well-defined scenarios and stereotypes, often conveyed by some novels, manga and, perhaps even more so, some films that have bewitched the West, such as The Ring (1998) and Ju-on (2000). Despite the success in Italy, too, of authors such as Umezu Kazuo (楳図かずお, b. 1936), Hino Hideshi (日野日出志, b. 1946) and Itō Junji (伊藤潤二, b. 1963), knowledge of horror manga is limited to a number of works and authors who represent, however, only a small percentage of a far more polychrome and multifaceted narrative universe. In other words, the tip of an iceberg just waiting to be brought to light. This preliminary contribution is intended to trace a path, thematic/narrative in nature, from which the route of “horror” manga can emerge in a diachronic, dynamic and evolutionary perspective. It goes without saying that, dealing with nearly seventy years of horror comic book publications, it will be impossible to make an exhaustive examination that takes into account all publishing realities, large and small. That is why the field of investigation will be narrowed down and focus exclusively on a specific historical period, from its beginnings in 1958 to the boom of the 1980s, examining the most recurrent themes and stylistic features of this time segment.
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