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Vietnam should eye establishment of webtoon industry: film director

Vietnam should eye establishment of webtoon industry: film director

Monday, August 07, 2023, 16:10 GMT+7
Vietnam should eye establishment of webtoon industry: film director
Charlie Nguyen (C), a Vietnamese-American film director, poses for a group photo with two famous Japanese actors, namely Noboru Kaneko and Masahiro Inoue, who became famed thanks to starring in comic-based movies. Photo: COMINK Organizer

Young Vietnamese comic enthusiasts should strive to become storytelling artists rather than being webtoon readers or working as outsourced webtoonists for foreign employers, according to Charlie Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American film director, producer, and screenwriter.

Charlie made this statement at the Manga Comic Con Vietnam 2023 held late last month in Ho Chi Minh City, where he announced the second edition of the COMINK Comic Contest. 

The co-founder and member of the board of judges of COMINK said that Vietnam is home to a huge number of comic and webtoon fans and remains a popular destination in charge of the main production of many international comics and webtoons.

Webtoons, a blend of 'website' and 'cartoon,' is a type of digital comic read on computers and mobile devices.

Charlie Nguyen (C), a Vietnamese-American film director, and his associates co-organize the COMINK Comic Contest to seek Vietnamese comics of high quality. Photo: COMINK Organizer

Charlie Nguyen (C), a Vietnamese-American film director, and his associates co-organize the COMINK Comic Contest to seek Vietnamese comics of high quality. Photo: COMINK Organizer

“It's time for young Vietnamese comic enthusiasts to make efforts to thrive as story talents, instead of comic consumers or outsourced comic artists for foreign employers," the film director said.

“I believe that the young Vietnamese have limited playgrounds, but do not lack captivating stories.”

A large number of Vietnamese artists are working for foreign comic companies, especially South Korea, where its webtoon market popularity has grown strongly over the years.

Vietnamese artists are in charge of drawing 100 percent of a webtoon based on the storyboard, character creation, and art direction provided by the South Korean side and then transferring the work to the latter after completion.

The South Korean side will add language to the webtoon and publish it.

Echoing Nguyen’s point of view, Vietnamese screenwriter Nguyen Khanh Duong said, “As a comic composer, I hope that Vietnamese storytellers will be able to tell their own stories and introduce them to readers at home and overseas.”

However, it is hard for Vietnamese authors to make enough money in their career in the existing local market. Therefore, it is entirely understandable that they opt for a stable job in production for foreign webtoons, Duong elaborated.

A number of Vietnam comic artists who made their name in the industry and won international awards are also working as outsourced employees for South Korean webtoon businesses.

Some others, meanwhile, accept low salaries to draw their own stories at home, he added.

Some comic characters favored by Vietnamese audiences - Photo: Comicola

Some comic characters favored by the Vietnamese audience. Photo: Comicola

Given the situation mentioned above, comic contests like COMINK are expected to motivate comic enthusiasts to grow further.

“I have researched the comic market in Vietnam for many years. And I know Vietnam boasts a truly interesting art history spanning multiple centuries. The global webtoon market size grows every year and increasingly targets young people,” COMINK co-founder Paul Brenner said, citing examples of some countries with a large number of young webtoon readers aged under 24 such as the U.S., Thailand, and Indonesia.

In Vietnam, its webtoon market is dominated by foreign content, Brenner continued. 

Through COMINK, the organizer wants to develop a webtoon platform for the Vietnamese and make the sales of Vietnamese comics take the lead in Asia, he added.

The COMINK Comic Contest is an annual event first launched in 2022 for young people who have a passion for composing comics. 

The second edition will take place in 12 months, starting from August this year, with the total prize value of up to VND300 million (US$12,640).

Winning candidates will have the opportunity to see their works adapted into movies or drama series.

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Hong Ngan - Mi Ly / Tuoi Tre News

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