Katsuji Matsumoto - Major Works - Children's Books and Infant Merchandise

Children's Books and Infant Merchandise

In 1955, Matsumoto abandoned manga altogether. Although he continued to do illustration work in a variety of styles, his focus shifted to the kind of hyper-stylized, wryly adorable character epitomized by the later Kurumi-chan. His target audience accordingly shifted from preteen and low-teen girls to toddlers and young mothers. In addition to illustrating new and original children's books, Matsumoto illustrated numerous classics, including Little Red Riding Hood (1955), Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy Book (1959, translated by Yasunari Kawabata), and various other collections of classic Japanese and European fairy tales.

In 1960, Matsumoto founded Katsu Productions (克プロダクション), which specialized in illustrations for infants and toddlers and designing various infant merchandise. This merchandise was spectacularly popular. Amateur manga scholar and blogger "lacopen" commented that "When I was a child, goods were all the rage, so much so that it is no exaggeration to say they were everywhere." His designs for the infant merchandise company known originally as "Sanshin. Inc." were perhaps the mostly widely consumed and recognized, and it has been suggested that the company changed its name to Combi (コンビ, which comes from the English "combination" and is used in Japanese to mean "duo") in response to the popularity of the infant duo, "Haamu" (ハーム) and "Monii" (モニー), created by Matsumoto and featured on a wide array of the company's products.

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