Skull Man (スカルマン, Sukaru Man?) was a manga series created by Shotaro Ishinomori which first appeared in Shōnen Magazine in 1970 and immediately caused a sensation, selling over 1.5 million copies. The hero, orphaned when his parents were murdered, grows up to use his peculiar powers to take his revenge. The original Skull Man was one of manga's first anti-heroes, someone who would sacrifice the lives of innocents in his quest for vengeance. This darkness is what made the Skull Man so magnetic and successful.
While the TV series Kamen Rider (Masked Rider) was still in development, Ishinomori, who created that series with producer Toru Hirayama, made this manga as his own personal version, which the producers at Toei Company Ltd. used as the basis for the show. Several changes in content were made, as this 100-page one-shot story was too dark and gruesome (even cerebral) for a children's show.
In the late 90s, before Ishinomori's death, the ill cartoonist contacted young mangaka Kazuhiko Shimamoto to do a remake (ambiguously a continuation) of his original one-shot manga. This remake boasted an extensive, continuing storyline and more complex artwork (along with a tribute to Ishinomori in the final issue, with several of his famous characters gathered together). This was the manga that was presented in the US by TOKYOPOP. The original 1970 version has yet to be released in America.
An animated TV series adaptation, produced by Bones and directed by Takeshi Mori, has been airing on Fuji TV since April 28, 2007.