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Tuesday, 6 August 2013

If We Are Not Ready For Europe Should We Forget Manhua/Manhwa?

This posting was originally written in 2010. I had been championing Chinese Manhua and creators on the old CBO and even included a few biographies -I still think that if a forward-lloking Chinese company jumped into the UK now it could establish a foothold into Europe and the United States.

I think China is the only country that can do this.  India had the resources but is just a mess with no one seemingly able to make a decision or take a chance.  Korea could have been a contender but it is so over-whelmed in red tape and its own internal struggles that I ruled them out in 2011 --Koreas main comic body having missed three chances to exhibit and promote at the Comic Expo in Bristol.

Anyway, these were my thoughts back then.
Last years attempt to get Korean Manhwa spot-lighted at the 2010 International Comic Expo was a dismal failure.  I don’t think that anyone took into account the very slow moving Korean bureaucracy.  Things seem as grim for 2011 -in fact,Mike Allwood,organiser of the Comic Expo,seems to have given up any hope.
I just don’t think that those responsible for officially promoting Korean Manhwa and artists have any idea that there really is interest in books from their country -I get emails every week asking for more information and how to get Manhwa but with companies not responding to emails with up-dates on current/new books there isn’t a lot I can say/write.
I feel like one man shouting into the wind here.
And there are,as you’ll probably know if you’ve checked out CBO articles on Manhwa,there are some great artists and incredible art there.
But what of China?  Well,firstly,we have to define what we mean by “China” in relation to Manhua.  There are Malay Chinese comics,Taiwanese comics,Hong Kong comics,Comics from Singapore and,of course,the Peoples Republic of China [under which HK also has to be classed].
Hong Kong is famous for its Kung Fu comics -headed by publisher Tony Wong,Wing Shing Ma et al.  But there are other genres including historical adventure,science fiction,etc.
Artwork in some of these books as I’ve said before[check out the handy Chinese Manhua/Korean Manhwa category] is astonishing in use of colour and some pages are near photographic in quality.  There has been a Chinese art exhibition in London in the last few years but nothing seems to have developed from that.
In fact,I’ve been pushing Chinese Manhua and Korean Manhwa almost as long as I have European comics [I think 1984 was when I started in earnest in print].  Cinebook is making headway but there seems to be that wall of British ignorance as I’ve already noted so I wont bore you any more with that.
But Chinese Manhua has made zero impact.  I pick up what I can at various Chinese markets but this is not in English so I just stare at gorgeous art!  Main English translations have come from Dr Master Publications which I can only assume have now ceased publishing.  Nothing new in over a year and emails getting no responses.
This is very sad.
Perhaps I’m hoping for too much? A country that is large enough to be able to absorb US and British comics along with European and Chinese Manhua?  Really,when you look at the output and sales in European countries where comic buying populations are smaller,they support 85% more comics than the UK.
I’d very much like to hear the thoughts of CBOs HK,China and Taiwanese based comickers -hey,news would be nice!

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