Welcome to the first Manhwa Monday column in 2011! Though I’m sorry to say, readers, that I’ve come here mainly to whine. This morning, I did my regular beginning-of-the-month search for new manhwa releases for January, and these were the results:
Yep, that’s it. The sole upcoming manhwa release for the month is volume four of Laon from Yen Press. Now, surely one slow month is nothing to whine about, but with no new manhwa license announcements (so far) for the upcoming year, things are starting to look a little bit grim.
Udon Entertainment and TOKYOPOP have seemingly abandoned their manhwa lines. Dark Horse has two series still running, with nothing new on the horizon. NETCOMICS hasn’t updated any of their online series since October (and has nearly given up print). Even Yen Press, the industry’s trustiest source for English-language manhwa, has more series winding down than anything else.
Despite KOCCA’s strong presence at 2010’s New York Comic Con, manhwa seems to have lost momentum in the North American comics market, with very little obvious push coming even from KOCCA itself, if the current state of NETCOMICS’ release schedule is anything to go by. So imagine my surprise when an article entitled Will Manhwa Catch Manga? turned up in my Google Alerts this week.
My surprise faded quickly as I actually read the piece. The article’s author, Ulara Nakagawa, quotes Jung-sun Park, a professor at California State University, thusly, ” Though they’ve been consistently popular domestically up to now, she said, Korean comics, or manhwa, have yet to really take off outside of the country.” This obviously jives with what we’ve been seeing here in the US.
Where Park sees the future of manhwa, however, is in digital comics, particularly those that may potentially be offered for the iPad. Now, while I’m not particularly thrilled with this idea as a trend–I like my manhwa in print, especially the long, soapy, sunjeong series of which I’ve become so fond–evidence points to webtoons as being the source of much innovation in Korea’s comics industry, and I’ll take what I can get.
With that in mind, it’s telling that my only real bit of manhwa news this week comes from iSeeToon, who recently announced their updated app schedule for the beginning of the year–the only new English-translated manhwa to be announced by any publisher so far for 2011. Though I’ve been unable to check out their Magician series thus far, I’m hoping that the updated app may be available for iPad as well as iPhone/iPod. iSeeToon also continues their series on types of manhwa in Korea with an article on educational manhwa.
This week in reviews, at Slightly Biased Manga, Connie takes a look at volumes four, five, and six of Very! Very! Sweet (Yen Press). And at Anime Salvation, Finn checks out Change Guy (ADV). And for a look at what we’re missing, our own Hana Lee shares a review of volume two of Joseon Female Detective Damo.
That’s all for this week!
Is there something I’ve missed? Leave your manhwa-related links in comments!
Michelle Smith saysJanuary 3, 2011 at 9:01 am
Here‘s one more!
Melinda Beasi saysJanuary 3, 2011 at 9:04 am
Hmmmm, Amazon told me that volume wasn’t due until February. Did they lead me astray?
Michelle Smith saysJanuary 3, 2011 at 9:31 am
I’ve noticed discrepancies between Amazon and the Dark Horse site on several occasions, but I’m not sure who’s more reliable.
Sara K. saysJanuary 3, 2011 at 9:29 pm
Well, I still think the biggest reason why manga took off much more than manhwa around here is anime (and the lack thereof).
My local video store recently had a promotion on K-dramas. I think it was that if you rented two K-drama DVDs, the third K-drama DVD was a free rental (which I imagine would be quite handy for somebody doing a marathon of a particular series). This promotion was prominently advertised right outside the store where every passerby could see it. Even now that the promotion is over, they still have ads for K-dramas prominently displayed right next to the front door.
While there are a few Koreans in my neighborhood, there are not enough that the video store would run a promotion just for them; they clearly wanted to reach a broader audience. On the other hand, my local video store is also the video store of choice for film geeks all over Northern California, so they may have been reaching out to the cinephiles rather than the mainstream.
I doubt that K-drama can reach the popularity of anime without it appearing, at the very least, on cable television (and maybe it is appearing on cable television, I would have no idea), and I don’t know how many non-Asians would bother trying it even if it were in their cable subscription. However, if K-drama does take off, it will probably take manhwa with it.
Hana Lee saysJanuary 4, 2011 at 3:05 pm
For what it’s worth, K-drama do appear on cable channels and have been available in limited regions in the U.S. for at least the past sixteen years. I grew up watching KBS America, which despite being a Korean-language channel had English subtitles for some of the more popular dramas. K-dramas have also been shown on English-language Asian-American channels such as the now closed AZN Television and the still-extant ImaginAsian.
I agree though that interest in K-dramas is perhaps the best path for manhwa to take off in the U.S. What with Dramafever having made contracts with major Korean broadcasters to legally stream K-dramas online with English subtitles, I feel rather optimistic about growing awareness and popularity of K-dramas, at least at a subcultural level. However, I think manhwa publishers in the U.S. need to think more about specifically targeting the K-drama audience when choosing titles to publish. Licensing Goong was a great idea because it capitalized on the massive popularity of the drama overseas; I’d like to see more efforts in that direction.
Jura saysJanuary 5, 2011 at 3:54 pm
Tokyopop abandons a lot of their stuff. No surprise.