Webtoons in process of evolution

By Claire Lee
  • Published : Apr 3, 2013 - 19:36
  • Updated : Apr 3, 2013 - 19:36
Aspiring webtoon artists should be conscious of future smart devices and how they work, famed cartoonist Lee Doo-ho said.

The artist, best known for his 1984 iconic work “Taoist Mutul,” was the chief judge of the first Herald Webtoon Contest, organized by the Herald Corporation. He selected a total of 14 winners among the 160 contestants.

“I’ve been working with hard copies and books for most of my life,” Lee said in an interview with The Korea Herald. “But those who are working in today’s cartoon industry should really care about the changing reading devices. We don’t flip the pages anymore. We scroll down them. And who knows how this will change in the future?”
Cartoonist Lee Doo-ho, the chief judge of the first Herald Webtoon Contest, speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald on March 26 in Seoul. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)

Lee received submissions from a variety of participants this year, including housewives, teenagers and college students. Many of the submitted works featured the daily lives of contemporary Koreans, while others belonged to the horror, fantasy and romance genres, Lee said. The top-prize winner is in fact about a young woman who hires domestic help to clean her boyfriend’s house in the city.

“One of the things that we really cared about was how conscious the artist was about the smart gadgets, and how much effort they put into creating works that are adaptable with the devices,” said Lee. “It really makes a difference in people’s reading experience.”

Webtoons, animated comic strips distributed online, are relatively easy to create even for amateurs. They do not require complex drawing techniques that are required for conventional cartoons and animations, as they can be made by using Flash, or a simple image editor and frame animation software such as Adobe Photoshop and Windows Movie Maker.

“Storytelling is important for all webtoon works,” said Lee. “That’s how they attract their readers. But I still think it’s important for aspiring webtoon artists to draw well and create visually stunning products. You have to have them both ― the storytelling and the great visuals.”

Lee said he hopes to see the expansion of the webtoon genre, as well as an online platform where readers purchase webtoons and artists get paid for their products. “Right now we call them ‘webtoons,’” Lee said. “But I hope to see ‘app-toons’ and ‘tab-toons’ in the future. Works can be more interesting when creativity meets technology.”

By Claire Lee (dyc@heraldcorp.com)