Horror manga icon Kazuo Umezu comes out of retirement after 26 years

Cat Eyed Boy
(Image credit: Kazuo Umezu (Viz Media))

Horror manga icon Kazuo Umezu (sometimes attributed as Kazu Umezz) is working on a new manga series to debut in January 2022. The 84-year-old writer/artist retired from comics in 1995 after finishing his sci-fi manga Fourteen and is best known for the horror series The Drifting Classroom (opens in new tab), Cat-Eyed Boy (opens in new tab), and Orochi: Blood (opens in new tab).

The Drifting Classroom Volume 1 cover (Image credit: Kazuo Umezu (Viz Media))
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"What!!! This is the first new release in 26 years!!! It took four years to produce," Umezu writes on his website, as translated from Japanese by Google Translate. "Today is the first time I have made a public announcement because I drew it silently. It's a great work, and at first glance you can't escape!!!"

At the bottom of the announcement, a joint copyright of Umezu and Japanese publisher Shogakukan is listed, which seems to indicate Shogakukan is publishing Umezu's return to manga. There's been no announcement about an English edition, however, Shogakukan is a partial owner of the English-language manga publisher Viz.

Cat Eyed Boy volume 1 cover (Image credit: Kazuo Umezu (Viz Media))
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Umezu has kept busy during his retirement from comics, with projects such as a 2014 autobiographical film he directed called Mother. In 2019, the Japanese government awarded Umezu with its 'Commissioner for Cultural Affairs' award to honor "individuals who have made distinguished accomplishment in artistic and cultural activities."

Several of Umezu's manga including The Drifting Classroom, Cat-Eyed Boy, Orochi: Blood, Makoto-chan, and God's Left Hand, Devil's Right Hand have been adapted into live-action and animated films.

Two of Umezu's horror manga are on our list of best horror comics.

Chris Arrant covered comic book news for Newsarama from 2003 to 2022 (and as editor/senior editor from 2015 to 2022) and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table. (He/him)