Comic books create lasting French friendshipTo commemorate of the 120th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between Korea and France, 12 Korean and French cartoonists have published a comic book about Korea. The comic book was published in France under the title of “L’Amitie,” a French word meaning friendship, and in Korea it was released with the title “Coree,” which means Korea in French.
In 1996, the famous Korean cartoonist Lee Hyun-se saw his book “Armageddon” translated into French. It became the first Korean comic book introduced in that country. Despite the dominance of Japanese comics in France, Korean comics have slowly taken root there, and more Korean comics continue to be introduced in France; last year saw a bumper crop. Celebrating the publishing of “L’Amitie,” officials at Casterman, the French publisher of the comic book, visited Korea earlier this month. President Louis Delas, editor Nadia Gibert and guest editor Nichola Fine were greeted by the Korean cartoonists who contributed to “Coree.” Present were Lee Doo-ho, Lee Hui-jae, Choi Eyu-seok, Chae Min and Byeon Gi-hyeon. Questions were asked, and they were answered by Mr. Delas.
Q. Casterman is famous for “Adventures of Tintin?”
A. “Tintin” is a popular comic, and it sells over one million copies every year, though the author passed away and there are no new comics any more.
There seems to have been some interesting conversations at a movie studio you visited.
I showed them the French version of the comic book. We also have discussed our next project. As Korean films have been much talked about in France due to their uniqueness, Korean comics have fascinated many curious French readers.
It is very unusual to introduce a Korean-French compilation comic book.
We published a joint comic book under the title of “Japon” in Japan, and “Coree” is the second. We intend to do the same with Chinese and Indian comics. It is a meaningful form of cultural exchange. Maybe next time Korean cartoonists will come to France and work with French cartoonists on producing comics about France.
Are Japanese comics still popular?
Of course, there are a lot of Japanese comics published. Every year 4,000 books are translated and 100 million copies are sold. But readers always want something new. In that sense, Korean comics have become a good source.
What is unique about Korean comics?
I like the unusual angles, ones that are not present in French or Japanese comics. For the compilation comic book, I thought the French would enjoy Choi Gyu-seok’s humor. Lee Hui-jae’s drawings have both Korean and universal sentiments. In the case of Seok Jeong-hyeon, he made drawings with Adobe Photoshop and this new concept is very appealing.
Will Korean comics be successful in France?
We began distributing the translated versions in May. It is too early to offer a conclusion, but we have great expectations. We have published eight books so far, and intend to release 15 books annually.
In Korea, it was interesting to see people reading comics on their mobile phone. I guess mobile comics are a new market.
by Jung Hyung-mo