TK 0

Revered as “The God of Manga,” the late Osamu Tezuka is simultaneously Japan’s most revered and prolific comic artist. More than 700 manga series sprang from the mind of the tireless Tezuka, but even with that busy schedule, he still found time to draw his version of Japan’s most famous cat, Hello Kitty, combining her with one of his most-used characters.

During the 1970s, Tezuka was a contributor to the short-lived monthly manga anthology Lyrica, in which his unicorn story Unico was published.

TK 4

Lyrica first hit newsstands in 1976, two years after the debut of Hello Kitty. The iconic Sanrio mascot was a roaring success from the very start, so as part of a special feature, the magazine’s editors published a drawing of Kitty-chan done by Tezuka himself.

Rather than just copy her existing design, though, Tezuka decided to combine Hello Kitty with one of his own characters, Hyoutan Tsugi. While that name may not be instantly recognizable to manga fans, the character, known in some English translations as Patch Gourd, has made cameos in over a dozen Tezuka titles, including Astro Boy, Black Jack, The Phenoix, and Buddha.

TK 2

Originally designed by Tezuka’s younger sister, Minako, Hyoutan Tsugi is said to be a mushroom that emits gas from his mouth. In practice, though, he’s just a silly-looking in-joke that Tezuka would insert into his comics to keep them from becoming too serious.

▼ The Buddha contemplates eating Hyoutan Tsugi.

TK 3

So, what happens when you cross a cat that’s so cute with a mushroom that’s so ugly it’s cute? You get this.

TK 1

After being shown in the pages of Lyrica in 1976, Tezuka’s Kitty-chan was reprinted in the Hello Kitty 30th Anniversary Memorial Book. For everyone who doesn’t own a copy, though, Tezuka’s daughter Rumiko, who’s involved with the management of her deceased father’s intellectual properties, tweeted the above photo which simply yet unmistakably combines he look of its two inspirations.

It’s yet another example of Tezuka’s versatility, as the hybrid cat/mushroom/pig/zombie proves there’s more to the art of the God of Manga than Astro Boy and sexy mouse drawings.

Sources: Burusoku, Osamu Tezuka Official Website
Top image: Twitter (edited by RocketNews24)
Insert images: Flayrah, Goo, Osamu Tezuka Official Website, Twitter