Kentaro Miura, creator of bestselling manga Berserk, dies aged 54 | Comics and graphic novels

Kentaro Miura, creator of the long-running dark fantasy manga Berserk – one of the bestselling manga series ever written – has died at the age of 54.

His US publisher Dark Horse Comics, describing Miura as a “master artist and storyteller”, said he had suffered acute aortic dissection and died on 6 May. “He will be greatly missed. Our condolences go out to his family and loved ones.”

The Japanese artist was best known for Berserk, which he wrote and drew. It first launched in 1989 and has been running ever since. Set in a world inspired by medieval Europe, it follows the story of the mercenary Guts, a warrior with a huge sword and an iron hand, and Griffith, leader of the mercenary Band of the Hawk. Dark, violent and humorous, Berserk ran to 40 volumes with more than 35m copies sold worldwide, according to its Japanese publisher Hakusensha. It was also adapted into anime TV series, films and video games.

Miura’s character designs were hugely influential on other comics and games, including Dynasty Warriors, Final Fantasy and Dark Souls. On Thursday, thousands of fans were gathering online to pay tribute to Miura, holding virtual memorials in video games such as Final Fantasy XIV.

“Our deepest condolences and heartfelt prayers for this tragic loss,” said Hisashi Koinuma, producer of the video game Berserk and the Band of the Hawk.

Berserk’s editor at Dark Horse, Chris Warner, has described the series as “a harrowing dark fantasy of monumental depth, complexity and audacity”, whose “astonishing visual tapestry is like nothing else in graphic fiction … While the horror and violence are at times disturbing and unquestionably adult, Miura still manages to produce genuine emotion and plenty of humour,” said Warner, while announcing in 2017 that more than 1.2m copies had been sold in North America.

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