* This post is written by Nana Cuellar, one of the Korea Blog’s Worldwide Korea Bloggers.
I’ll be honest: comic books never interested me too much until I got to know mangas. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m some super fan; I just enjoy reading them more than, say, a Hellblazer comic book for some unfathomable reason. Anyway, since Japanese culture is sort of big in Brazil, their manga production is pretty much all we come by in here, so it took me a few years to become aware of manhwas. But now it seems they are going strong in the Western world and I’ve been definitely reading more about them recently.
In Brazil, Korean comic books will be the focus of the 7th International Comic Book Festival (FIQ) that will take place in the first fortnight of November, in Belo Horizonte. To make it much more interesting, they pay homage to a different country every year and, as you might have already guessed, this is Korea’s turn. They say this choice was made because comic books are each day more present in the culture of the country, and this is probably about to increase, since the Korean government has announced that it will invest more in the production and exportation of manhwas — as of now, they already spend about 3 million won a year on them. So far, the festival has announced that it will bring Chon Kye-young (from Audition) and Park Sang-sun (from Tarot Café, a title that has been published in Brazil) to the event, so Brazilian fans of the genre have a lot to celebrate.
One other reason to be jolly is that the Korean Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) has just released Manhwa, an application for the iPhone and Android that provides an English version of famous Korean comic series such as Again, Ikki, and Kingdom of Winds, among others. Right now you can find about 50 different series with a free 30-page preview. Apparently, they will make the rest of the stories available for purchase later on (we hope!).
I downloaded the app last Friday on my iPhone and have been enjoying it quite a lot. Everything is in English, which makes navigation really easy. Besides that, there are quite diverse titles available, so everybody will end up finding something to their liking. Reading on the phone’s small screen is not really my cup of tea, but it’s not impossible (books, on the other hand, ugh!) and if it’s the only option available, I can live with that. I’ll try to download it on my brother’s iPad some time this week to see how it goes.
Anyway, the idea is quite amazing, because not everybody has access to all these different comic books in their countries. Of course, there are readers who would prefer reading them in their language, but we cannot have it all, now can we? And I know some people think differently, but I’m not too keen on buying everything offline, what with the long waiting periods, the delivery rates to Brazil and, depending on the merchandise, the taxes we have to pay when things finally arrive. So buying a comic book and downloading it to my phone/tablet almost instantly is definitely the ideal way for me.
Finally, if you’re not thaaat interested in comic books, you could always try a movie inspired by a manhwa! There’s only one I’m aware of, though: Priest was released earlier this year and features actor Paul Bettany as the main character. The movie was loosely based on the graphic novel of the same name and actually was a bit of a flop. On the other hand, the comic book, created by Hyung Min-woo, has received good reviews, especially for its art. It basically tells the tale of a priest that comes back from the dead to get revenge (for a more in-depth summary and analysis, click here.
I haven’t read the comic or watched the movie, but since it has also been published in Brazil, I’ll try to get hold of the series as soon as possible.
* The original piece can be read HERE.