New Emissary

An Unexpected Manga Artist

Emerging comic artist Wisut Ponnimit stands out for his positive themes, talent—and for not being Japanese.

Yesterday I heard from Benjamin Parks, a Tokyo-based photographer who told me about a manga artist he’d recently photographed for a feature story in English-language magazine Metropolis.

Parks often shoots some of the country’s biggest celebrities for various publications, but he told me that this artist stood out for being a particularly ‘warm and friendly guy; very down-to-earth and approachable.’ What’s really interesting about him though is that he’s a flourishing Japan-based manga artist—who isn’t actually Japanese.

While there are legions of fans of manga around the world, and some great practitioners, Thailand’s Wisut Ponnimit stands out for actually moving to Japan and finding some success in the local industry—and for writing his captions in the local language, despite not knowing any when he got here. It’s an inspiring success story.

Born in Bangkok in 1976, Wisut started drawing comics as a child. After becoming a popular artist in Thailand, he found himself in his late twenties and wanting some new experiences. He says he decided to move to Japan just to experience the culture, and actually didn’t plan at the time to start producing comics. ‘I found myself wanting to know about the country responsible for my favourite art,’ he says.

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Wisut names Japanese manga veterans like Mitsuru Adachi (‘Niji Iro Tōgarashi is so extraordinary’) and Osamu Tezuka as his main influences. Interestingly, though, he also includes Mickey Mouse, Pink Panther and Doraemon as influences that are the ‘at the foundation of my art.’