Golgo 13, the famed hitman manga by Takao Saito, is going on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic. This is the first time the series has suspended publication in its entire 52-year run.
According to Anime News Network, the Japanese newspaper the Sankei Shimbun reported last Friday that Golgo 13 was going on hiatus in Shogakukan's Big Comic. The manga anthology had been running the series for a whopping 52 years. That makes Golgo 13 possibly the longest manga series in the world. It's certainly the longest-running hitman comic series in the world. Big Comic's editorial department had reached an agreement with Saito Productions to put the comic on hold.
The current state of emergency in Japan had made it difficult for the ten employees at Saito Productions to go into work. They are considered "absolutely essential" to work on the manga. This included assistants who researched news and political topics for story material as well as artists and art assistants who keep the production of every installment of the comic on a steady schedule. Big Comic and Saito Productions opted to send the entire staff home to ensure their safety from COVID-19.
Big Comic will announce the return date of the manga at a later date, once it becomes safe enough for the staff to return to work.
The series follows the exploits of Duke Togo, a ruthless, legendary hitman who never fails to complete a contract. The character is a bit of a cipher and never changed during his 52-year comics run. The stories often touched on current affairs and topics. There was one story about his part in the assassination of Princess Diana, another about his role in swinging the 2000 US Presidential election results. On May 1st of this year, there was even a special "pandemic" collection that collected past stories that involved bioterrorism.
The series originally launched in 1968. The stories, often one-offs, were always collected into 180-page tankubon paperback collections. As of April 3rd, 2020, Shogakukan published the 196th volume. It spawned anime series, a live-action movie starring Sonny Chiba and video games. Viz Media published a "best of" selection of Golgo 13 stories in 13 volumes in English.