Born July 31, 1963 in Gifu-ken, Junji Ito is Japan's leading horror comics artist.
In 1987, while still working as a dental technician, Ito published his first work, a short story called "Tomie," in the shojo horror manga magazine Gekkan Halloween. "Tomie" won Ito an honorable mention for the Kazuo Umezu Award (named after Japan's greatest horror comics artist), which was judged by a panel that included the legendary Umezu himself. Ito went on to develop a strong following in horror manga magazines for his potently imagined short stories, especially his ongoing "Tomie" series, about an immortal, semi-human girl whose beauty drives men mad. Recently his reputation has spread to the mainstream: in 1998 Uzumaki, about a spiral pattern that overcomes a small town, was serialized in the mainstream weekly manga magazine Big Comic Spirits. And in recent years several live-action feature films have been based on his works, including Tomie and Uzumaki.
In just this past year, several Ito collections have been made available in English: Tomie Vols. 1 and 2 and Flesh-Colored Horror (from ComicsOne) and Uzumaki (three volumes from Viz Comics). Uzumaki has been nominated for a 2002 Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material.
Ito's influences include manga artists Kazuo Umezu, Hideshi Hino, and Shinichi Furuka, science-fiction author Yasutaka Tsutsui, and American horror author H.P. Lovecraft. He is currently serializing the bio-horror saga Gyo in Big Comic Spirits, where Uzumaki was first published.
Ito, from a PULP interview: "Although I believe it's not as bad as it is in America, when bizarre youth crimes occur in Japan, the blame always seems to fall on horror manga and video games. When I first started doing manga, my editors would always be cautious about my form of expression, even more so than with other genres of manga. For example, when dealing with the subject of illnesses, it was necessary to consider ways of not offending readers who actually might have that illness. From this, you can see that horror manga aren't considered 'healthy.' "