The legendary manga writer, Kazuo Koike, best known for his iconic series, Lone Wolf and Cub, with artist Goseki Kojima, has passed away at the age of 82.
While best known for his work on Lone Wolf and Cub, Koike also wrote a number of other successful manga series over the decades, cementing his status as one of the greatest manga writers of all-time. He famously passed his knowledge on over the years, as well, becoming an acclaimed teacher of the art of creating manga.
Koike broke into manga working for the legendary Takao Saito on the longrunning series, Golgo 13.
Beginning in 1970, Koike began writing the manga feature, Lone Wolf and Cub, with artist Goseki Kojima. The brilliant series starred Ogami Ittō, a disgraced former executioner who saw his family almost entirely wiped out by the villainous Yagyu clan. The only survival of the slaughter was Itto's newborn son, Diagoro. Itto has to become an assassin to survive and he and his young son travel Japan while trying to avenge the murder of the rest of Itto's family. The series ran for seven years and was a sales sensation in Japan, routinely selling upwards of 8 million copies. The series was adapted into a series of hit films in Japan, as well.
The series was a ht in the United States, as well, with translated copies of the series being reprinted with new covers from artists like Frank Miller (who was greatly influenced by the series).
While working on Lone Wolf and Cub, Koike and Kojima also created two other popular manga features, Samurai Executioner and The Path of the Assassin.
Besides his work with Kojima, Koike created the feature, Lady Snowblood, with artist Kazuo Kamimura, about a woman trying to gain vengeance on the people who murdered her father and raped her mother. The feature was a hit and Koike even wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of the feature in 1973.
In the 1980s, Koike had a hit series, Crying Freeman, with artist Ryoichi Ikegami.
Koike established Gekiga Sonjuku, a college course in how to create manga. Some of his former students went on to become major manga icons themselves, like Ranma 1/2's Rumiko Takahashi.
Koike did some manga series for Marvel over the years, as well. Koike was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2004.