People of the Desert (砂漠の民, Sabaku no Tami) or The Desert Tribe is a comic strip written and illustrated by Hayao Miyazaki. It was serialized, under the pseudonym Akitsu Saburō (秋津三朗), and ran in Boys and Girls Newspaper (少年少女しんぶん, Shōnen shōjo shinbun) between September 12, 1969 and March 15, 1970.
The story is set in the distant past, on the fictionalised desert plains of Central Asia. Part of the story takes place in the fortified city named Pejite (ペジテ). The story follows the exploits of the main character, Tem (テム), a shepherd boy of the fictional Sokut (ソクート) tribe, as he tries to evade the mounted militia of the nomadic Kittāru (キッタール) tribe. In order to restore peace to the realm, Tem rallies his remaining compatriots and rebels against the Kittāru's attempts to gain control of the Sokut territory and enslave its inhabitants through military force.
Behind the Scenes
Miyazaki initially wanted to become a manga artist but started his professional career as an animator for Toei Animation in 1963. Here he worked on animated television series and animated feature-length films for theatrical release. He never abandoned his childhood dream of becoming a manga artist completely, however, and his professional debut as a manga creator came in 1969 with the publication of his manga interpretation of Puss 'n Boots, which was serialized in 12 weekly instalments in the Sunday edition of Tokyo Shimbun, from January to March 1969. Printed in colour and created for promotional purposes in conjunction with his work on Toei's animated film of the same title, directed by Kimio Yabuki.
In 1969 pseudonymous serialization also started of Miyazaki's original manga People of the Desert (砂漠の民, sabaku no tami). This strip was created in the style of, illustrated stories (絵物語, emonogatari), he read, in boys' magazines and Tankōbon volumes, while growing up, such as Soji Yamakawa's Shōnen ōja (少年王者, shōnen ōja) and in particular Tetsuji Fukushima's Evil Lord of the Desert (沙漠の魔王, Sabaku no maō). Miyazaki's Desert People is a continuation of that tradition. In People of the Desert expository text is presented separately from the monochrome artwork but Miyazaki progressively used additional text balloons inside the panels for dialogue.
People of the Desert was serialized in 26 weekly instalments which were printed in Boys and Girls Newspaper (少年少女新聞, Shōnen shōjo shinbun), a publication of the Japanese Communist Party, between September 12, 1969 (Issue 28) and March 15, 1970 (issue 53). The strip was published under the pseudonym Akitsu Saburō (秋津三朗).
The strip has been identified as a precursor for Miyazaki's manga Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1982–1995) and the one-off graphic novel The Journey of Shuna (1983), published by Tokuma Shoten.