San Diego Comic-Con 2023 was a treat for horror fans as VIZ Media brought the master of horror and four-time Eisner Award winner Junji Ito to the event. Ito, who is known for his grotesque and eccentric manga works such as Uzumaki, Black Paradox, and Tomie, participated in two panels, a Q&A session, and a live drawing demonstration. He also received the prestigious Inkpot Award from Comic-Con International for his contributions to the comics industry.
Ito’s fans had the opportunity to see over 100 pieces of his original art at the “Welcome to the Ito-verse” exhibit, which was the manga legend’s largest North American exhibit to date. The exhibit showcased Ito’s unique style of blending the unknowable with cosmic horrors that transcend the boundaries of manga.
At the San Diego Public Library, Ito answered questions from the audience and revealed some of his inspirations, influences, and fears. He also drew a sketch of his new main protagonist, Soichi, who is a mischievous boy with long nails and a penchant for curses. Soichi will appear in Ito’s upcoming manga collection, Lovesickness, which will be released by VIZ Media in April 2024.
“…showcased Ito’s unique style of blending the unknowable with cosmic horrors that transcend the boundaries of manga.”
Ito also took part in a panel titled “Into the Ito-verse”, where he discussed his creative process, his favorite works, and his thoughts on the popularity of horror manga in the West. He also shared some of his personal phobias, such as clowns, alleys, antique dolls, dentists, pigeons, spirals, and the dark.
One of the highlights of Ito’s appearance at SDCC 2023 was receiving the Inkpot Award from Comic-Con International officials. The Inkpot Award is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the fields of comics, science fiction/fantasy, film, television, animation, and fandom services. Ito expressed his gratitude and honor for receiving the award and thanked his fans for their support.
VIZ Media also announced some exciting news for Ito’s fans at SDCC 2023. They revealed that they will publish two more volumes of Ito’s manga in 2024: Venus in the Blind Spot, which is a collection of short stories that feature some of Ito’s most twisted and terrifying tales; and Remina, which is a sci-fi horror story about a planet-eating entity that emerges from a wormhole.
““Welcome to the Ito-verse” exhibit, which was the manga legend’s largest North American exhibit to date.”
VIZ Media also announced that they will release a deluxe hardcover edition of Uzumaki, Ito’s masterpiece about a town cursed by spirals, in October 2023. The deluxe edition will include color pages, a slipcase, and an exclusive poster. Uzumaki is also being adapted into an animated series by Adult Swim and Production I.G., which will premiere in 2024.
Ito’s fans can also look forward to seeing more of his works on other media platforms. Netflix is developing a live-action series based on Tomie, Ito’s iconic story about an immortal girl who drives men to madness and murder. Hulu is also producing an anthology series inspired by Ito’s stories, titled The Junji Ito Collection.
With over 2.2 billion views on TikTok and over 10 million in global book sales, Junji Ito is one of the finest and most sought-after horror storytellers of our time. His appearance at SDCC 2023 was a rare and memorable occasion for his fans and for the comics industry as a whole. As Ito himself said at his panel: “Horror is universal. It transcends language and culture. It connects us all.”