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Scot tastes success in heart of Japanese comic industry

SEAN Michael Wilson is that rare enough thing, a Scot living in Japan.

FLYING OFF THE SHELVES: Japan's comic book industry is huge and many titles have a cult-like following. Picture: Getty
FLYING OFF THE SHELVES: Japan's comic book industry is huge and many titles have a cult-like following. Picture: Getty

But it is in his profession where he really stands out. For Wilson is the only Scot - the only Briton for that matter - working in Japan's huge comic book industry.

Originally from Morningside in Edinburgh, Wilson, 43, has spent the last eight years carving out a career as a writer in Japan's manga industry.

The latest example of that career, 47 Ronin - an 18th Century samurai tale based on a historical event - has been published in English by US publisher Shambala. Not bad for someone who arrived in Japan not speaking the language and who even now admits his linguistic skills are "not that great".

Wilson, who grew up reading 2000 AD, left a career in television in London to pursue his childhood love of comics in one of the most successful industries in the world. The manga industry is reputedly worth 400 billion yen (£2.5bn) a year. "I started from absolutely nothing and I'm doing quite well. It's been through my own hard work and a bit of luck," he said.

When he left he UK he made friends with artists and then introduced himself to editors in Tokyo.

Wilson, who lives in the south of Japan, has not forgotten his origins. He has written a graphic novel based on his Edinburgh childhood. "It's called Once Upon a Time in Morningside. It's 14 scenes from my childhood. There's no disasters, no wars, no disease. It's just the little ordinary things that happen, the million little adventures that happen to everyone when they are a kid."

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