Tupazinho by Minami Keizi

Minami Keizi was a Brazilian comic artist and writer of Japanese origins. He introduced the manga style in Brazilian comics. Born in Lins, São Paulo into a family of eight children, he was raised by his grandfather, a doctor, Buddhist monk and jiu-jitsu teacher. After finishing elementary school in 1963, he went to the capital to pursue a career as an artist. He published the story 'Pedrinho e a Greve dos Relógios' in Jornal Juvenil with art by Zezo.

He began a collaboration with the publishing house Pan Juvenil, where he created his comic character 'Tupãzinho', inspired by Osamu Tezuka's 'Astro Boy'. Keizi's manga style got some resistance and the artist turned his comic into a newspaper strip for Diário Popular in 1965, but changed the looks of his character with a rounder anatomy.

By 1966 he was a supervisor with Pan Juvenil. Under his supervision the publisher launched a book with children's stories, written by Keizi and drawn by several other artists, as well as a 'Tupãzinho, o guri atômico' comic book.

When Pan Juvenil closed it's doors, Keizi co-founded a new publishing house, EDREL (Editora de Revistas e Livros). He assembled a team around him of artists of Japanese descent, such as Claudio Seto, Fernando Ikoma and the brothers Paulo and Roberto Fukue. 'Tupãzinho' became the publisher's mascot, and more manga inspired titles were launched: 'Ninja, o Samurai Mágico', 'Ídolo Juvenil' and 'O Samurai'. Around this same period, Keizi got his degree in journalism.

EDREL regularly had difficulties with the military dictatorship and internal strugles led to Keizi's departure from the company in 1972. His next publishing venture was M & C Editores, which he founded with Carlos da Cunha and that published titles like 'Conan'. In the 1980s, he drew erotic comics for Grafipar in Curitiba.

Keizi also wrote for several books and magazines, often about esoteric themes. In 2007, he published two novels: 'Lendas de Zatoichi' (about a blind samurai in a series of Japanese films) and 'Lendas de Musashi', both illustrated by Julio Shimamoto and published by Mythos Editora. Minami Keizi passed away in Greater São Paulo in December 2009.

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