While I'm on the subject of how American comics are merely a relatively tiny part of the worldwide phenomenon that is the comic book, one of my favorite Tokyo hotels has a blog with an entry discussing Astro Boy.
It's almost impossible to understate the importance of Dr. Tezuka Osamu to comic book history. He's a guy comic fans should mention in the same breath as Will Eisner and Jack Kirby and we could probably make a case that Tezuka's influence and importance is categorically greater than either gentleman's. His work ranged over a wider series of genres than theirs-- everything from animal stories to fantasy to science fiction, from literary adaptations to children's stories, from bizarre medical dramas to porn. This genius creator even did a biography of Buddha. While Kirby will always be "The King," in Japan Dr. Tezuka is "The God of Comics."
Anyway, according to this blog entry (which you really should read because it's cool and has some fun photos and I'm staying at this hotel next Saturday night), apparently if you go to Takadanobaba Station, which is located in Takadanobaba ward (the birthplace of Astro Boy himself), you'll hear the melody of the Astro Boy animated series instead of the normal Yamanote Line departure bell. I did not know this, but I've heard it many times before and I'll definitely keep an ear open the next time I'm passing through Takadanobaba. Which will probably be some time next weekend.
Now as much as I love Stan Lee, the day New York subways start using the "Merry Marvel Marching Society Theme Song" as their departure music, then I'll dethrone Dr. Tezuka and put The Man up there in the pantheon of Comic Book Gods.