Chinese manga artist draws his way into Japan market

Wed Mar 2, 2011 1:38am EST
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By Royston Chan and Chiaki Kawase

SHANGHAI/TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Liu Chong, a Shanghai resident, has overcome stylistic differences and parental disapproval to realize his dream: publishing in a mainstream manga magazine in Japan, the home of manga comics.

Brought up on Japanese manga, like many Chinese of his generation, the 26-year-old who goes by the pen name of "L-Dart" made a name for himself in China before managing to cross the sea with his fantasy history graphic novel "Killin-ji," which started running late last month in "Monthly Big Comic Spirits."

Amid some media warnings that his debut marks the start of Japanese manga being outsourced to China, L-Dart joins a competitive market that is estimated by some at 406 billion yen ($3.6 billion) annually.

"Now that my manga is going to be published in Japan, it is like showing off my (school) results slip to my parents," L-Dart told Reuters in his Shanghai office.

"I can now tell them that I have come a long way in my profession and I have gained some achievement. Also, there is a lot of potential for my career.

"Killin-ji" is based on the Chinese historical novel "Romance of the Three Kingdoms," but the drawings are strongly styled after Japanese manga.

While it is uncommon for Chinese artists to be published regularly in a Japanese comic magazine, it is not completely unheard of.

"Monthly Big Comic Spirits" is a newcomer, a spin-off from the more well-known weekly version, both published by Shogakkan. It already sells 26,000 copies a month and targets mostly 20 to 25-year-old males.   Continued...