Inaugural cartoon festival wants serious art collectors
Gov't, illustrators seek alternative funding
By Noh Hyun-gi
Though more and more people are collecting artwork as an investment, only few consider cartoons an acceptable purchase. In Korea, events dedicated to presenting works of cartoonists are rare aside from the annual Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival. This lack of interest and endorsement led to a void of markets for cartoons and illustrations.
The inaugural “33+ Collections” will showcase around 70 artists — 33 of them established, 23 rising and 12 who focus on contemporary art and illustration — to exhibit over 200 works for sale at Dongdaemun History & Culture Park from March 15 through April 14. This is the first art market to focus on cartoons.
Household names such as Lee Do-ho, Kim Dong-wha and Baek Sung-min are on the list of participants. Lee, legendary creator of the Korean classic Meoteol Dosa series, will bring color illustrations. Lee published the first of the series about monks training in the deep mountains in 1984 and continued to mark the history of Korean cartoon with volumes such as “Im Kkuk-jung,” a story about a bandit from the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910). Kim is the director of Korea Cartoonists Association and author of the “Story of Gisaeng” and “Motnani.”
Lee Chul-ju, the managing director of the event, said: “One must be a full-time artist to produce quality work, which means he or she needs to rely on collectors for financial stability. ... We are launching this art market to introduce the practice of buying cartoons to our culture.”
In Korea, most cartoonists are dependent on sales of publications which are not necessarily sustainable, given the limited size of the domestic market.
“In Japan, national museums and galleries collect the original sketches by renowned cartoonists. Local governments also market homegrown artists as tourist attractions,” explained an official at Artepia, the agency that will co-host this event with Korea Manwha Contents Agency (KOMACON).
“Also, while drawings by French cartoonist Jean-Jacques Sempe are traded at high prices overseas, there are no opportunities for such transactions at home.” The institute plans to organize “33+ Collections” annually and to arrange festivals internationally after two years of domestic events.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Seoul Animation Center sponsor the event.