Interview with Cédric Biscay, creator of the manga series "Blitz"

by Tatiana Flores
2/24/2023 – "Blitz" is a French cult manga based on the Japanese model. It revolves around chess, and Garry Kasparov is an advisor to the team of authors. Tatiana Flores spoke to the creator of the series, Cédric Biscay | Picture: The cover of Blitz volume one and a glimpse of one of the exciting chess games (French edition). | Photo: IWA/Shibuya Productions

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Interview with Cédric Biscay - author of Blitz, the booming chess manga

In an exclusive interview with Tatiana Flores, Monegasque manga author and businessman Cédric Biscay talks about his passion for chess and his ambition to share it with the world. He talks about what it was like to work with the great Garry Kasparov to "bring the game to the younger generations in an attractive way" and answers questions about chess and its increasingly strong relationship with pop culture. He also gives insights into the backstage world and the creation process of his internationally successful Japanese chess comic Blitz!

Cédric Biscay is not only the only manga creator in his country, but also the founder of Shibuya Productions. The Monaco-based entertainment company specialises in the creation and production of manga, animated films, video games and documentaries. It has produced major titles such as Shenmue 3 and Twin Mirror, and has an Astroboy reboot animation project in the works. Biscay's Shibuya Productions also organises the popular pop culture event MAGIC (Monaco Anime Game International Conferences) in Monaco and Kyoto. Biscay has also been appointed Ambassador for Women's Rights by the Government of Monaco and was recently made a Knight of the Order of St Charles, the Principality's highest honour, by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco.

At the time of our interview, Cédric Biscay and the entire Shibuya team were in the middle of press conferences, media meetings and final preparations for this year's MAGIC edition, which will take place on 25 and 26 February at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco after a three-year break due to Covid-19. The guest list for this 6th edition once again includes some of the most famous names from the world of video games, manga, animation, comics, film, television and music. Cédric Biscay will be there to present the chess manga Blitz, which he created with Tsukasa Mori and Daitaro Nishihara.

How much do you like to play chess?

I learnt to play chess at school when a teacher introduced me to the game. On rainy days - when there wasn't much to do - we had the choice between table tennis and chess. At first I played a lot of table tennis because I really enjoyed it, but eventually I gave chess a chance and I liked it straight away. After that I didn't play for many years, but since I started Blitz I play every day. I really like it! I'm actually very weak, you know? (laughs) I don't pretend to be weak! I am, but I still enjoy the game.

How did you come up with the plot of the manga?

I'm a big fan of manga and Japanese entertainment, and I watched a lot of anime on TV when I was a kid. You know, France has one of the biggest markets for Japanese content in the world. It's even bigger than the US, which is crazy! So yes, there is a lot of competition in the manga scene. It's very difficult to find a new subject, something that hasn't been exhausted. I really like sports mangas because I think they can have a very interesting development in terms of characters and story. So I wanted to go into that area. Of course, when I was looking for a theme for the manga, chess immediately came to mind. There aren't many funny things about chess, so I thought it was the ideal subject to develop an original and intense story. At the same time I wanted to open a window to the chess world, because chess is completely underestimated outside the chess world.

How many people were involved in the creation of the manga Blitz? Are you the only chess player in this production team?

Well, we are several people working on it. We are three authors, let's call them that. I'm the first one; (laughs) I write the scenarios and basically create everything about the manga. I have an artist, because I can't draw, and that's Daitaro Nishihara. He is a Japanese manga artist who has been working on various manga with original stories for almost 20 years. Then I have Tsukasa Mori, who is my co-scenarist and makes sure that all the scenes fit into the grid. This is a very valuable help for me because I'm not a professional scriptwriter. Well, I am one because I love it, but Tsukasa helps me to respect the Japanese manga code. This is very important to me because I strongly believe that manga creators are the best at making any subject funny. They can take the most insignificant subject and make great stories out of it.

Besides the authors we have a translator because I don't speak Japanese and people in Japan don't speak French, at most English. I know you have a question about this later, so yes, I also need a chess consultant. Even though I love chess, can play it and know the rules, it's quite another thing to design games and make them meet my expectations. I think about what I want for the development of the story, and at the same time I need games that fit that. That's why I decided to work with a chess consultant, Stéphane Bressac, and his job is to create games according to the specifications I give him. Well, he doesn't really create them, because we use existing games, but he offers them according to what I want. I think it's quite hard work, yeah. (laughs) Aside from those people, as you can imagine, we need a lot of other people for further development, like the physical aspect. Let's say there are three writers and a team of five people working very closely on this manga, but the total number of people involved in the manga is probably eight.


Cédric Biscay's dream was to create "a manga that opens the doors to pop culture for chess". | Photo: Cédric Biscay

As you just mentioned, all the games depicted in the manga are "real" games. How did the advisors (Garry Kasparov and Stéphane Bressac) work together to make this possible?

In fact, they do not work together. Blitz is under the official patronage of Garry, who is also one of the characters, while Stéphane Bressac is the main supplier of the games. I use Garry Kasparov when there is a certain situation that needs to be created. He works more like an advisor, telling me if something I'm imagining is possible, or if I'm being completely silly in asking for it. (laughs) His job is to make it coherent, and I don't want to give away the scenario, but the further we get into the story, the more I'm going to need him. Volume nine comes out at the end of this month and we have more and more complicated games to make. So yes, as far as Blitz is concerned, they don't really interact with each other.

Is it true that you met Garry Kasparov in Paris after sending an email to his company asking him to be a consultant for the manga? How did the collaboration develop from there?

Yes, yes! That's absolutely right. When I decided to make a manga about chess, I immediately thought of him. For me it was impossible to do this manga without him, because for me he is the king of chess, he is a legend. Of course there are many other legends, but I remember when I was a kid at school listening to the commentary on the radio about Garry's match against Deep Blue. I was so impressed that this guy was playing against a computer! Many years ago, it was crazy! For me, Garry Kasparov is like the Chess Terminator, because he was the first to have a real match against a machine. That's really why I like him so much. I love badass and for me there is nothing more badass than fighting this machine for the first time in history. That's why it had to be Garry Kasparov.

Cédric Biscay and Garry Kasparov in a casual game of chess with chess pieces, board and clock in Blitz style. | Photo: IWA/Shibuya Productions

The publication of the eighth volume was accompanied by the exhibition Blitz Origins (at the Louis Nucéra library in Nice), which shows the path of the creation of manga. How does it feel to meet hundreds of visitors who are interested in your work and in chess? 

It's always a big surprise for me, because a lot of people around me tell me that Blitz is good, that it's cool, and so on. The problem is that I don't really trust them. So I always have to clear things up with people I don't know, who I don't have to like or who can save me from bad reviews. When I do book signings or visit this exhibition in Nice, I understand that a lot of people really love Blitz, for sure. I know that now and that is a great joy for me. Every time I write, I imagine the development in my head and try to create a story that pleases the reader, not the scriptwriter. I have to be happy with both perspectives, but the reader's perspective comes first for me. Until I'm happy with that, I don't send anything out.

I am happy when I see that the people who visit the exhibitions like them. They like it even more than I expected. I expected that people would like the mangas, that young children would get interested in chess and join a chess club, for example. We have had great feedback from federations telling us that the number of young players is increasing because children want to learn chess because of Blitz. That's great news! But I didn't expect so many chess players to read a manga for the first time in their lives! (laughs) Many came up to me and praised the manga, but at the same time asked me why I wrote the comic upside down, and I often had to explain that you read a manga from right to left. It's not a comic! I certainly didn't expect players in their 50s and 60s to read Blitz as their first manga.

What place do you think chess has in pop culture?

Chess has a very small place in pop culture. I don't remember many examples of chess in pop culture when I was younger. I can remember some films or video clips like One Night in Bangkok by Murray Head, but they are very few. Now, thanks to The Queen's Gambit, it's different: you can see how online platforms are busy with thousands of games a day. It's crazy! Of course the lockdown has increased the popularity of online chess and we see a lot of streamers and more players every day, so I think chess will become a stronger element in pop culture over time, but we still don't have many examples. Somehow it's fashionable nowadays to play chess or to show chess boards and pieces, like in the Louis Vuitton ad with Messi and Ronaldo pretending to play chess. These things are due to the Queen's Gambit and the resulting appreciation of chess in the media. The Queen's Gambit boom is over now, it remains in the history of chess, but you need this sort of thing on a regular basis to strengthen chess. I really hope that with Blitz we can help this movement to grow.

  French Women's Champion IM Sophie Milliet is a very passionate ambassador for Blitz. | Photo: IWA/Shibuya Productions

Before September 2022, the manga was available in French and Japanese. What are your hopes and expectations for Blitz in the future, especially in light of its recent release in English by Ablaze Comics?

I am a dreamer; I am full of dreams! People sometimes think I'm a businessman because I have some companies, but being a businessman is my weakness. Let's put it that way! (laughs) I would love to do an animation on Blitz: An anime, a TV series or a film. That would be fantastic. I also think that the scenario of Blitz lends itself very well to live action, something like that. I've already had a few enquiries about an adaptation for streaming and animation, so we're looking at them now to see if we should wait or go ahead. I'm very happy about that. Of course, publishing in English is also very good, because even though the market in the US is not quite mature compared to Japan and France in terms of the manga industry, we still have the UK and Australia, where Blitz is now available in English. I'm very happy that the publisher bet on us and the manga, and it's going great. People like it, so we hope we can continue with many more volumes.  

You have developed the app Blitz, which allows you to play chess in an environment based on your manga. Why did you do this?

For me, this is a continuation of my previous answer. I really want to give people a good visual experience. Of course it was an investment for us to develop this app and we are offering it for free, which is not normal in today's business world. But I expect that we can develop chess in some countries where it is not popular and introduce people to chess. For this I think it is very useful to read the manga, but also to try to play chess. I think a lot of people are not directly interested in going to the big playgrounds or playing with the pieces from the manga, especially children who have never played chess before. So I wanted to offer a kind of introduction to chess before they go to those big platforms. It's a kind of gift, a kind of "thank you" for buying the book, and in return a great experience for the readers. That's the way I like to do things. I'm very grateful that people actually buy my books. Wow! It's a dream come true for me.  

In each volume of the manga you will find a QR code that will lead you to the (free) download. You can also find the app online at

  Thank you for your valuable time, Cédric! The ChessBase team and I wish you continued success with Blitz.

The interview was conducted in English via Zoom on 08 February 2023.

More about Blitz and its author Cédric Biscay:

Blitz and Cédric Biscay on social media:

  • Instagram: @cedric_biscay & @blitzofficiel
  • Twitter: @CedricBiscay & @BlitzManga 

Tatiana Flores was born in Andorra in 1998 and moved to Germany with her family when she was 14. She works as a chess journalist, poet and multilingual author. Besides chess, she is also passionate about literature and music. See also her website under