Saturday, January 10, 2009


Comics World Busan

After I stopped updating this blog, I wrote a few articles and reviews for some magazines in Korea. Some of them were printed, some weren't. None of them are online now, so I might as well post them here.

Comic World Busan

Originally printed April, 2006 in The Ulsan Pear (you can find issues in pdf format at

On March 25th I attended Comic World 32 at BEXCO in Busan, Korea. I had no idea what to expect. When I arrived outside the convention hall the first thing I saw were tons of people, and tons of cosplayers.

Cosplay is the Japanese (and Korean) word for dressing up as a character from a comic, cartoon or videogame. People put a lot of work into their costumes and friends will all dress up as characters from the same story so you’ll see gangs of people in weird clothing walking around together. They hang around outside and pose whenever people want to take their photos, and there are tons of people taking photos.

Inside the BEXCO building was quite different from outside, and a bit disappointing too. The large hall that contained everything wasn’t the nicest looking, but that doesn’t really matter that much. There were several rows of tables with dozens of booths set up in them.

Each booth contained not the piles of back-issues you might expect, nor did it feature any hot artists of popular comics, not even piles of mini-comics made by local creators. Instead, looking at what was offered at the booths, it was clear that this was a fan convention.

The booths had merchandise that featured characters from popular comics; usually badges, stickers, art prints, bags, cards, cell phone danglies and dōjinshi.

Well, not actually dōjinshi, that’s a Japanese word. Dōjinshi are usually fan comics. They’re fanfiction taken to the extreme. A fan will read a comic and like it a lot and decide to draw, publish and sell their own adventures of the characters.

The comics themselves are beautifully produced. Square bound and slightly larger than the usual American sized comics. They also usually have covers, and sometimes a few interior pages, in colour. The art is generally pretty good, though it probably won’t look exactly like the characters do in the comic. Also, because Korean reads left to right these comics read in the familiar direction instead of “backwards” like most Japanese comics.

Dōjinshi creators usually produce their comics in low print runs to avoid the chances of them getting sued (they are using other peoples characters after all). So if you see something cool, pick it up, you might not get another chance. A number of comic creators started by making dōjinshi before becoming famous, so maybe that neat looking comic was drawn by someone who’ll become famous.

Interestingly, the costumes, comics and other merchandise seen at Comic World really showed that the most popular comics in Korea are Japanese ones. Naruto, One Piece, Death Note, Full Metal Alchemist, Inu Yasha, Kerero (Sergeant Frog) and Gundamn were all clearly visible at the event and are all popular, or at least available, in English.

The Comic World Busan events happen fairly regularly, with the next one happening on May 27th and 28 th. I only know one thing for sure, next time I go to one of these things I’ll be in costume too. Now all I need to do is learn Korean so I can actually read these comics.

Visit the Comic World website at (in Korean).

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