>Pata of Irresponsible Pictures posted a link about the attempts of Korean comics publishers to break into the US market. The link was a thread at Manganews.net which focused on a series of interviews with ICE Kunion Imprint (a consortium of Korean publishers including Sigongsa and Seoul Cultural meant to bring Korean comics to the American market) at Internal Correspondence version 2 (ICv2).
Here are the links to the three part interview (August 4, 2005):
- Interview with ICE Kunion, Part 1: The Decision to Enter the U.S. Market
- Interview with ICE Kunion, Part 2: The Launch Pace, the Audience, and the Korean Market
- Interview with ICE Kunion, Part 3: Korean IP Development; the UDON Role
Alot of interesting info here about the differences between Japanese manga and Korean manwha (for more information about Korean manwha please check my sidebar links under “International Comics Resources”) including, but not limited to how the Korean companies operate and how much the Korean government plays a role in those operations (e.g. “Manwha” has become the official governmental designation for Korean comics as opposed to the other common phonetic spelling, “Manwa”). As Eric Ko says:
The Korean government is very into promoting comics as a medium, not as something that’s just for kids. They’re very involved. This particular spelling is official.
Ko also has something to say about the “manga is/is not comics” debate:
Essentially it’s the same word. It means comics. Manga, manhwa, no matter how you spell it… How the Koreans do it is hwa. It’s not always the same, it’s just slightly different phonetics. If you look at it, it’s all written the same. All the Asian people read the same two words. It means comics. It’s just comics. It’s the difference between Kleenex or tissue paper. They brand this thing. A lot of people say, “you have a Kleenex?” They mean do you have a tissue paper. It’s kind of like now when they brand manga as Japanese comics, because it’s a format. It’s black and white, it has more pages than the standard American comic. That’s how they do it. We feel a distinguished difference between Korean content and Japanese content. They’re similar enough, but deep down there are many differences.
Essentially, the same two Chinese Han Characters (pinyin: hànzì), 漫画 (pinyin: mànhuà), are used in China, Korea, and Japan to refer to comics. The exception: often in Japan people usually refer to manga as “comics” (for more information about Chinese manhua check my sidebar links under “International Comics Resources”).
The sheer size of the Korean/Asian market for manhwa is staggering:
How many new trade paperback volumes are published monthly in Korea?
[Eric] Ko: A lot. About 45 million tankoubons, or collected volumes, a year. That was in 2003, I believe.
How many separate titles?
[Charles] Park: Four or five thousand titles a year.
While that’s nowhere near the size of the Japanese manga market, it’s not something to scoff at. I’m just wondering when mainland China will join the proverbial bandwagon and try to enter the US market on a larger scale than Hong Kong companies have done in the past.
Speaking of Hong Kong comics–many thanks to Queenie Chan for pointing me in the direction of Lee Wai-chun and her 13-Dot Cartoons. As Miss Chan and the Lambiek entry both state, 13-Dot Cartoons was loosely based on Harvey Comics character, Richie Rich.
Running from 1969 to 1980, Miss Chan also says “it evolved completely in isolation from Japanese manga, resembling Old Master Q in its storytelling.” Obviously Anthony Wong’s Old Master Q, Lee Wai-chun’s 13-Dots Cartoon, and other Hong Kong comics like Tse Ling-ling’s “Sweet and Gentle” are quite different from the subject matter and style of, say, the more familiar Jademan comics from the late 80s/early 90s(in the US).
There’s a whole world of comics out there beyond the US and Japan, so why not push all comics forward, eh?
Chinese comics struggling to find own style
Critiques of Gender Ideology: women comic artists and their work in Hong Kong (anyone with an account can always forward me a copy of this! 😉 )
ICE Kunion Imprint website
Old Master Q website
Queenie Chan’s The Dreaming (coming soon from TokyoPop!)
Queenie Chan’s website
Tangerine Dreams (info about some Girl’s Manhwa titles)