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Last Updated: Friday, 16 April, 2004, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
Fire kills Japanese manga artist
Ironman 28
Ironman 28 was known as Gigantor in the US
The Japanese creator of the Ironman 28 manga cartoon has died in a fire at his home in Tokyo.

Mitsuteru Yokoyama, 69, who also created Little Witch Sally, was found unconscious in his bed with severe burns and later died in hospital.

Police said the fire was suspected to have been started by a lit cigarette by his bedside.

Ironman 28 was one of the first Japanese cartoons to be exported to the US, where it was known as Gigantor.

Yokoyama was inspired to draw by the late Osamu Tezuka, Japan's best-known manga cartoonist and creator of the Astro Boy series.

Crime crusade

Launched in 1956, Ironman 28 - known as Tetsujin 28 in Japan - was based on the US B-29 bombers that flew over the Kobe port where Yokoyama lived as a boy.

The original comic book characters were transformed into a black-and-white animation in Japan before being picked up by Fred Ladd in the US, who created a colour version and changed the name to Gigantor.

The robot was controlled by a young boy called Jimmy Sparks as they embarked on a crusade against crime.

A new Ironman 28 series was released in Japan in April and DVDs are available around the world.

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