Cartoonist’s comic books inspire more movies

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Cartoonist’s comic books inspire more movies

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Huh Young-man’s cartoon characters, which are created after thorough research on real life figures, seem to be alive. He depicts the dreams and desires of modern people realistically. The dialogue is sharp-witted and show a deep insight into life, which is why Korea’s film industry and investors have noticed his work. Some of Huh’s comics have already been dramatized and turned into films (“Beat”), TV dramas (“Mr. Q”) and animated TV series (“Fly Superboard”), and his work is once again drawing attention. The latest film based on his work, “War of Flower,” has already attracted 5 million viewers. Another of Huh’s comic books, “Sikgaek,” which is about the art of cuisine, is being filmed now and its premiere is scheduled for next year.
Mr. Huh seems excited about the success of “War of Flower.” The first volume of the comic on which the film is based, “Jirisan Jakdu,” was recently released in a bound four-book set.
Mr. Huh said he did not interfere in the making of the film. “Just because I am the original author, I do not demand things. If someone has a reputation of being difficult, their life becomes hard. They are professional filmmakers, I am not. I heard that it was going to be directed by [Choi Dong-hoon] of ‘The Big Swindle,’ and I said ‘okay.’”
He explained how he came up with the plot about gambling.
“A publisher suggested to me that I draw a comic about a retired gambler. In the beginning, I didn’t think it was interesting. I visited [the gambler] in Mount Jiri, but he wasn’t very cooperative. Then he showed me his tricks with hwatu cards. [Hwatu is a Korean card game.] He makes a hwatu card disappear suddenly without even touching it. Then I met more hwatu gamblers, but they told me only half of their stories. From that point, we had to create our own stories.”
This is where writer Kim Se-young, 53, came in. The two met when Mr. Kim wrote the storyline for Mr. Huh’s first comic book, “Poetry of Chameleon,” in 1986. Since then, they have worked together on a number of comics. Mr. Kim first writes the dialogue and then Mr. Huh draws the cartoons.
“It is fun to illustrate scenes of rivalry. But as I got older, I came to dislike exaggeration and artificiality. I wanted to portray the life of ordinary people instead. That’s why I started drawing ‘Sikgaek,’” Mr. Huh said.
He credits his focus on ordinary people as the reason his comics sell so well. “In my comics, there is no superman but only the people next door.”
“That’s why detailed description is important. For example, I agonized over whether a character would use a spoon or chopsticks when I was drawing a dining scene. Depending on which implement he uses, the type of food is determined and the story goes in a different direction.”
Mr. Huh always bases his sketches on real people and things. He takes the utmost care when he draws faces to illustrate various types of people. For that reason, he keeps a large pile of “mug shot” photographs, mostly clipped from newspapers and magazines, in his basement.
They will no doubt come in useful for the next comic book he is planning. “I am interested in faces, he said. I came to develop an interest in physiognomy, such as whether people’s lives change when they have cosmetic surgery or whether people with humble origins can change their lives through plastic surgery.”


by Jung Hyung-mo

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