Keiji Nakazawa was born in Hiroshima and was in the city when it was destroyed by a nuclear weapon in 1945. He settled in Tokyo in 1961 to become a cartoonist. He produced his first manga for anthologies like Shonen Gaho, Shonen King, and Bokura. By 1966, Nakazawa began to express his memories of Hiroshima in his manga, starting with the fictional 'Kuroi Ame ni Utarete' ('Struck by Black Rain') and the autobiographical story 'Ore wa Mita' ('I Saw It').
Nakazawa's life-work, 'Barefoot Gen' (1972) was the first Japanese comic ever to be translated into western languages. Dealing with the nuclear holocaust in Hiroshima, the comic is very intense, and when the first English translation of 'Barefoot Gen' came out in America, there were many complaints that the effects of the bomb were depicted too graphically. These complaints weren't about a picture of the actual bomb exploding, but more about what the bomb did to people and their lives. Although the complaining Americans might suggest otherwise, this comic does not blame anyone - it is a scathing attack on injustice, militarism and war itself.
'Barefoot Gen' was adapted into two animated films and a live action TV drama, and has been translated in over 10 languages, including English, Russian, and Korean. The author retired in September 2009 due to citing deteriorating diabetes and failing eyesight, thus cancelling his plans for a sequel. Keiji Nakazawa passed away in December 2012, after having been suffering from lung cancer since September 2010.