It was never easy for Lee Jun to become a professional comic artist.
Without proper training or money to hire assistants, he had to master the skills of drawing and storytelling on his own.
Lee dropped out of college, but kept his job as an office worker not only to make ends meet but also to realize his lifelong dream.
“It was never easy to create webtoons,” Lee said in an interview with The Korea Herald.
A self portrait by Lee Jun
“I only rested for half a day during the week and spent all my time creating webtoons when I first started my career as a webtoon artist.”
After years of relentless effort, he finally won the top prize with “Friendly Winter” in a contest in 2011 hosted by Daum Communications, which operates the Daum Webtoon platform.
Friendly Winter. Lee Jun
Lee said reading novels and newspapers and daydreaming on strolls helped him create “Friendly Winter,” stressing that those activities can be a source of inspiration for every emerging digital comic author.
“I came up with the idea for ‘Friendly Winter’ (a story about the friendship between a 19-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy, who suffer from a growth disorder and cerebral palsy, respectively) while I was reading a news article about a 19-year-old girl whose height was less than 100 centimeters,” he said.
Lee’s “Season of Su,” about the friendship between a woman and a half-man, half-alien, received rave reviews, and was introduced in the U.S. via Tapastic, an online comic portal.
Season of Su. Lee Jun
Although Korean comics are gaining global recognition, Lee suggested that Korean artists need to make constant efforts to compete with foreign artists who boast outstanding drawing and storytelling skills.
Easy access and fast delivery of content via webtoons along with quick reader response have contributed to the rising popularity of Web comics, and have led to a rising number of cartoonists.
Lee expected that the webtoon industry would grow further, despite concerns over an oversupply of comic artists as more consumers would continue enjoying reading cartoons via their mobile phones and tablet PCs.
“Of course, portals including Daum contributed to the growth of the (comics) market as they provide great platforms for webtoon authors to publish their works,” Lee said.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org