Sean Michael Wilson

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Sean Michael Wilson
Sean Michael Wilson.jpg
Nationality Scottish
Area(s) Writer, graphic novelist
Notable works
AX:alternative manga
Awards 2010 Harvey Award nomination, 2013 Stan Lee Excelsior Award Winner.

Sean Michael Wilson is a comic book writer from Edinburgh, Scotland, who now lives and works in Japan. He has written more than 20 books with a variety of US, UK and Japanese publishers and has been nominated for both the Eisner and Harvey book awards.


Growing up in Edinburgh, Wilson was deeply inspired to create comic books at an early age by the comic 2000 AD. He largely focused on writing poetry and short stories while studying sociology and psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University and Edinburgh University, graduating as a lecturer in those subjects from the University of London. He mixed teaching with working on documentary films for British television until deciding to return to focus on his first love, comic books. In 2014 he was listed among the 'Ten Great Scottish Graphic Novel Creators' by the Scottish Book Trust.[1]

Wilson's first published comics story came out in 1998 in a book and display of an exhibition of comic art in London. Although around half of his books are 'western' style graphic novels, he often works with Japanese and Chinese artists on manga style books, being ideally placed to do so as he now lives in Japan. He is influenced by the Gekiga movement writers, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Yoshiharu Tsuge, Matsumoto Masahiko.[2] His first Japanese language work came out in Summer 2008 on the Japanese keitai manga network (comics on cell/mobile phone). Making him perhaps the first British comic book writer to have his work available on Japanese mobile phones. He is also the only British comic book writer, so far, to have a multi-book deal with the Kodansha publishing group in Japan. He edited the groundbreaking collection of indie style manga, 'AX: alternative manga', for Top Shelf Publications - which was highly praised by critics ('Top ten books of 2010' of Publishers Weekly, nominated for a prestigious Harvey Award) and noted as the most important such collection of manga yet published. But his main influences remain British and American comics, such as creators Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Eddie Campbell and Harvey Pekar.[3]

Wilson's work is equally split between original stories and adaptations of existing work into comic book form. Several of his books have been adaptations for the UK publisher Classical Comics. This has involved working with a range of well-known artists adapting 19th-century novels into comic books that stay close to the original in plot and historical accuracy. Including his best selling book so far, at 20,000+ sales, 'A Christmas Carol' (with Judge Dredd, Wonder Woman and Dr Who artist Mike Collins) and 'Wuthering Heights' (with well-known artist John M Burns of 2000AD, Look and Learn, etc.). 'Wuthering Heights' has been nominated for the 'Stan Lee Excelsior Awards' in 2012, an award voted for by over 170 schools in the UK. His version of 'Sweeney Todd' was nominated for the same Stan Lee Excelsior Awards in 2013, and won the JABICA award.The anthology of stories about WW1 he was part of, 'To End All Wars', was nominated for both 'Best Anthology' and 'Best Reality-Based Work' for the 2015 Eisner awards. Also in 2015 his book Cold Mountain (with Akiko Shimojima) won an award in the 'China Animation and Comic Competition 12th Golden Dragon Award' (in the category of 'Best Overseas Comic'). In 2016 his book Lafcadio Hearn’s “The Faceless Ghost” and other Macabre Tales from Japan (with Michiru Morikawa) was placed in the recommended reading list,'2016 Great Graphic Novels for Teens', of the important library association in the USA: YALSA (The Young Adult Library Services Association). The book also won a medal in the 2016 'Independent Book Publishers Awards', and was nominated for an Eisner Award, the top award for comic books in the USA.

Wilson has attempted to do comic books that are different from the normal superhero/fantasy brands, working with a variety of 'non-comic book' organisations in the process, such as a British museum, the UK arts council, colleges in the USA, the Global Institute for Tomorrow, Bristol University, Asia Literary Review, the Norwegian People's Alliance, the British and American Humanist Associations, Basic Income groups and the activist charity War on Want. His book with War on Want, 'Iraq:Operation Corporate Takeover' was reported on by a variety of mainstream agencies across the world, such as Reuters, CCTV in China, Austrian Radio and several middle eastern magazines. His book 'Parecomic' has an introduction by Noam Chomsky, who is also in the book several times - Chomsky's first official connection with a graphic novel. His book contrasting science and religion, Goodbye God?, was made with the participation of English philosopher Stephen Law of the University of London and an introduction by Prof. Lawrence Krauss. His work has been translated into Japanese, Chinese, French, Spanish, Croatian, Indonesian, Turkish, Swedish and Italian.

Page from Wilson's 'Parecomic', the first comic book that Noam Chomsky was involved with.

Recent or current projects include: a manga version of 'The 47 Ronin'; 'Fight the Power!', a history of 200 years of protests (with an introduction by Tariq Ali); The Book of Five Rings, a 140-page historical manga with Chie Kutsuwada for Shambhala Publications; The Demon's Sermon, a 150-page historical manga with Michiru Morikawa for Shambhala Publications; Parecomic: The Story of Michael Albert and Participatory Economics, a 220-page graphic novel with Carl Thompson for Seven Stories Press; Cigarette Girl, a 250-page manga from gekiga great Masahiko Matsumoto for Top Shelf Publications; and Once Upon a Time in Morningside, an 115-page autobiographical comic set in the Edinburgh of his childhood, with Hanna Stromberg. Wilson lives in Southern Japan but is a regular guest at comic book festivals in the UK and US, where he has given talks about gekiga and alternative manga.[4]

Bibliography (earliest books listed first)[edit]



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External links[edit]