Story of Lee – That’s Reality! (part one)

There are many aspects in the Story of Lee book that seem to be autobiographical, or based on real experiences or real places. I thought I’d go into that for a bit. The first thing is that its not an autobiography. Matt is not me and Lee is not any girl I’ve dated.  But there are aspects of my experiences and attitudes in them both.For example, the back text matter mentions ‘Page 83, Kens cafe, Chai wan road.’

That’s a real place that a real lady took me too several times. and the waiter was a real chap, called Peter I think, who was very nice to me each time i went in. Rather than just bringing me my food, he would make an effort to talk in some funny way. The scene on that page is true, he did say i looked like a film star, which I was pleased about of course( presuming that he didn’t mean i look like SHREK). In Japan where i live the people are famously polite and kind, but in a way that can appear stand-offish to a British person. So, there are cafe’s here that i have been going to for 3 or 4 years in which the very nice staff don’t make much effort to chat with me and rarely ask personal questions. They see it as invasive. But by contrast this Hong Kong man, starting from my very first visit to his cafe, always came over to my table 3 or 4 times to say or ask something. I was struck by the difference to Japan.

The setting of SOL is ‘Chai Wan’, on the east of Hong Kong island itself. An area that does not have many ‘westerners’, to use the imprecise and possibly ethnocentric label that is still common. I was also introduced to that by the same lady (who doesn’t want to be named here), and I thought it was an ideal place to situate the story. An ordinary unglamorous area, where the ‘real’ HK people live. Just the kind of place that can show you what people’s lives are like on an everyday level, and the kind of place that a young lady would want to escape from to an ideal place of her imaginary longing.

But as it goes it was very nearly my place of death! They have a huge amount of VERY tall buildings in HK, but not particularly in good condition. I was walking along, just off the main Chai wan road one hot afternoon when a slab of concrete fell with a frightening WHAAKK a short distance in front of me – right in the place I would have walked 2 or 3 seconds afterwards. I looked up at saw the gap that it had come from of an apartment on the 12th floor. At that height it probably would have killed me – Chilling stuff…

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About the Author

Sean Michael Wilson/ Chie Kutsuwada
Sean Michael Wilson/ Chie Kutsuwada
SEAN MICHAEL WILSON is a comic book writer from Scotland, who now lives and works in Japan. He has had more than a dozen books published so far, from a variety of US, UK and Japanese publishers. Although also writing 'western' style graphic novels, such as adaptations of classical novels, he often works with Japanese and Chinese artists on manga style books. He is the editor of the influential collection 'Ax: alternative manga' (Top Shelf). Currently he is writing books for Kodansha International, being the only British comic book writer working with them. He 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. His book with War on Want, 'Iraq:Operation Corporate Takeover' was reported on by a variety of mainstream agencies - such as Reuters, CCTV in China and several Middle Eastern magazines. His main influences remain British and American creators - such as Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Eddie Campbell and Harvey Pekar. 'The Story of Lee' is his second published book working with artist Chie Kutsuwada, the first being 'Hagakure' (Kodansha International).

CHIE KUTSUWADA was born and brought up in Japan. After graduating from the Royal College of Art, she now lives and works in London as a manga artist. She also attends some manga-related events and runs manga workshops at schools, libraries, and museums around the UK, such as at British Libraries and the Victoria and Albert Museum. She usually creates story and illustration on her own like King of a Miniature Garden (2007), her first manga, but also works with story writers, such as on the adaptation of 'As You Like It' (2008 SelfMadeHero, London) by Shakespeare and the Japanese classic tale 'Hagakure' by T. Yamamoto (adapted by Sean Michael Wilson, 2010 Kodansha International, Tokyo).

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