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A storyteller explores beyond the boundary of cartoons and webtoons: Jongbeom Lee at TEDxSeoul

A storyteller explores beyond the boundary of cartoons and webtoons: Jongbeom Lee at TEDxSeoul


Translator: Jeong-Lan Kinser
Reviewer: Stella Kang How are you? I am a cartoonist, Lee Jong Bum. So far, you have been listening to talks
related to formula of Physics and various, most advanced technology, but I will talk about comics. Yes, I graduated
from the department of psychology, and became
a long prepared cartoonist. So, currently in Naver Webtoon, I draw a cartoon, called Dr. Froster that feature 4 psychologists
as protagonists. When I talked about what is happening
around the borderline of comics at first, cartoonists around me were puzzled. So what does it mean
by “a borderline of comics?” Not only in comics,
but also in all genres, creative authors who work around
the borderline of all media, use mixed genres
with adjoining areas, right? They export, import,
and sometimes combine work. This form, called Webtoon, itself, was developed
on a kind of borderline in comics, in Webtoon’s borderline itself,
many experiments are being implemented. When you interview many,
one of frequently asked questions is, “Why do you do comics?” “Why do you do?”, is always asked a lot, so most people memorize and
carry words that are summarized nicely. Now, this is a well expressed
summarization for an interview. In fact, a first motivation
is very simple and meek. Well, in my case,
when people ask about dreams because a cartoonist was in the middle
of a scientist and a president when I was really young,
motivations in those ages are very simple. In my case,
as a means, mainly to be acknowledged or be praised,
I dreamed of becoming a cartoonist. From that early age,
when cartoonist aspirants, when you become a cartoonist aspirants, do you know what they do at first? They read comics. (Laughter)
They read them a lot. They read them greatly. So, I, started
from Treasure Island, Jump, Champ, Booking Pang Pang,
Nine Oz, Renaissance, Mink Mink, etc., I grew up reading all kinds of comics. But during the period
of my preparation to debut, most magazines disappeared. Everything was
already moved to Webtoon. I have to display what fed me
while I was growing up, but those contexts disappeared entirely, so I felt a little out of place. To describe my feelings, the comics you are looking at is called, “Choon Ang Jun,”
written by Jeon Jin Suk and Han Seung Hee. It is a biography of a woman,
called Im Choon Aeng. She was an apprentice
of a Korean traditional singer. And she was a daughter of the last palace
musician in Chosun Dynasty. During that time,
if you sing, you only sing, and if you dance, you only dance. There was a division between
a great dancer, and a great singer. However, the person, Im Choon Aeng later became a person
who genuinely developed a musical genre for the first time in Korea. She became someone
who did not exist before. Aspiring cartoonists who grew up
watching published cartoon from late 1990s to 2000s shared similar feelings
while preparing to debut. Grown up as an apprentice of singer
and stood up on a stage, but a stage for a singer no longer exists. This is a musical stage; thus, apparently, there are many
newly seen devices for the first time. There are instruments, a curtain, and stage setting
that you’d never seen before, right? Most of cartoonists, in that context, continued what they’ve been doing
regardless of the stage. As for me, they were very interesting. I felt out of place. I was very curious
about the environment where something is visible,
yet hard to discern; many available things are visible, yet, have not been explored. Now, before I show you many kinds
that I experimented, briefly, I will show my work. This is a storyboard of cartoonists. Well, I drew this hastily today for TED, a cartoonist’s storyboard is a work process where the reader’s
perspective is scooped as if water without dropping any elements
and move it from the beginning to the end. If the middle part of perspective
becomes runny or murky, or the story gets vague where it goes then, the storyboard is little flawed. Most cartoonists guide
the reader’s perspective in this way. However, as soon as you arrive
at the last scene, agony starts. We all are very sophisticated readers, so without thinking,
we turn a page, right? In fact, we haven’t realized
how tremendous amount of labor it is, because we have been trained
since young age. However, “what if numerous scenes
are connected after this?” is the most fundamental concept
of Webtoon structure. As a result, theoretically we gained an infinite canvas. Of course, labor power, time, and other various amount of data
have limits but at least theoretically,
the physical limits that existing cartoon had been showing to us
is completely leaped by Webtoon. I learned that structure
of all kinds of media begins really from its limits. Say, “I can’t use this feature.”
Then you learn to go around it. As to cartoon, there is limit
on space of a sheet, they designed a method to divide cuts. And because you have to turn the page, the cut at the end
becomes very valuable cut. At the same time, due to its limit
on space of a sheet, people always feel inconvenient. For example, currently,
if I want to tell the readers where this situation is taking place, in fact,
many kinds of cuts are needed. This is usually called,
“background cut.” After showing the background cut
to readers, and they could comprehend,
“Oh, this is a place I know as…” then, a story should proceed. But when sheet space is limited, sufficiently the background
can’t be explained. And while there is
no conversation nor action, and the protagonist sets up emotions, if you draw 3 or 4 cuts, you get reprimanded
by a teacher or publisher. Because of that, in Comic Publishing,
what comic aspirants do first is, to learn what unnecessary cuts are; learning to trim unnecessary cuts
is the first learning. However,
since we moved to Webtoon, in contrast, to deliver detailed
explanation and emotions, various descriptive style directing
became available. So, there came these types of cuts. They don’t accomplish anything
but for background and emotions, it is justified to allocate near 10 cuts. Rather, it can provide time for readers
to emphasize with the context. As you can see, aside from taking
a physical action to turn the pages, when you read
with physically minimal movement, you experience similar
to a screen medium is flowing in front your eyes. As a result, Webtoon, in fact, took various characteristics
from media and secured them. Nowadays, many dramas and movies
are made to be available for Webtoons, and maybe that’s one of many reasons. Then, I thought, “From the space where I belong,
called Webtoon, if I can see devices that I could not use
in the paper publishing, where can I use it?” At that point,
I came up with an idea. “If we have characteristics
that screen media has, let’s try to put in music first. The program you are looking at
is made by a former developer, an author, called Tiger, Choi Jong Woo. Music icon over there at the end,
what you are currently seeing, is detecting the distance
of pixels from the top. So, it allows the music to play
at a specific pixel location. Doing this way, when an already made
invisible Flash file is inserted here, you get an appearance like this. (Music) This is when
I first started to put in music, I drew this about a year ago. Since then till now, I tried to put
BGM in almost every Webtoon series, I felt numerous limits and possibilities. I will talk about them a little later. Secondly, you will see my
new recent experiments, social network accounts
for my protagonists in my cartoon. It’s not an internal attempt of cartoon. At first, I started
as an interesting joke, without a direction or purpose. In here, behind stories
not appeared in the cartoon, or personal lives of the protagonists, or give commands
of the stories’ foreshadowing, or interactions with the reader, etc.
can be implemented. Whoever looks at it,
it is vey fictional, right? Comics is art of fiction, and these
experiments are of course fiction, still, notes start coming. (Laughter) They come much more than you think. When you have many, that is when the series has many inquiry,
they come as much as 100 notes a day. “Where is Yong Kwang University?” “I go to Yong Kwang Middle School,
do I have anything?” “Is Professor Baek a real person?” So, they don’t make sense. In my case, I couldn’t imagine, many readers really start believing, or get engrossed in the work. So I reconfirmed that “For a storyteller, storytelling is everything that helps
for a complete re-experience.” That is, these people have great desire about likely
existing people, events, and settings. And, I thought that if it’s possible
outside of the cartoon work, I can help them without limit. Of course, from my perspective,
in the direction of pioneering industry is very likely to be wasteland. It is likely to end 1 or 2 attempts,
but it told me a lot of things. The next attempt I am doing is making background in 3D. Webtoon is variously changing like this, but limits on labor power or considerations still remain. As a result, for amount of work
of existing 5 cartoonists, a Webtoon writer must do it by himself. it is an industrial perspective but during the process, numerous
authors experiment possibilities, and also in my case,
I make 3D background first and put it in the cartoon work. Next, I recently discovered
a very interesting element. If I watch a cartoon on my phone
with Promoting Reality Software program, what would it come out? How it works is that because I can’t thank a person who purchased my book individually if you take videos through using this,
an increasing text program, an author’s message shows
that is hiding in there. In fact, a person who attempted this is the author, Moojuk Pink,
who is serializing a cartoon called Actual Objective Children Picture
Book in Naver Webtoon In his case, not like in my case
of a single book, but in his real original manuscript,
he hid the author’s message. Now, it is a light joke for
using the “promoting reality technique” – if that can be used for storytelling, for a sidestory of the story being told, or like for a hidden story,
I thought that maybe could be developed
from a different dimension. In addition, on Webtoon, there are many
attempts being done. Authors that place themselves
on that borderline, whether it is a movie, or music, they develop a business
towards a different medium nearby. During a new developing process, They keep discovering that this side is wasteland
and the other side is fertile soil. Where is wasteland
and where is fertile soil which is area
of sustainable development? Only the latter can expand
the overall area, right? In the former case,
it might end one or two attemts but at least it gives
a lesson or inspiration. Look, this direction might give you
a sense of, “will never be good.” So, in my case, my discovery is
a very famous foreteller in cartoon field. He is the most famous cartoon theorist, Watching Scott McCloud’s TEDTalk
and a book, I looked into his prophecy book. His prophecy relating
to future outlook of cartoon was correct in most part. However, relating to timing,
it was incorrect. Most of attempts from his prediction, “One or two decades
later, cartoon will be in this way,” are already accomplished
and being accomplished in Korea. A cartoon you will see now
is the author I earlier mentioned, Choi Jong Ho’s A Song of a Cloud. (Music) The cartoon that you will see next is a scene from a cartoon called,
Constantz’ Story which deals
with a detailed story of a rape victim. The rape scene was discovered by CCTV. To show the shocking context
of a third witness who was looking through the CCTV.
this type of directing was used. (Music) There are other attempts
from a different angle. Considering a direction for Interface, a case that combined
not a screen, but game. It is “Love Slip” written by the author,
Oh Chang Ho’s work. Using the interface
from a romantic simulation game, the story is a kind that appears the most
often in romantic simulation game. (Music) These attempts, in fact,
from a 2 dimensional Webtoon, inserting a screen, or a sound, can be considered
as a simple hybrid or simple mix. At least, when you observe
these various attempts continually a directional attempt can be absorbed
in the structure of webtoon as it is repeatedly applied or another directional attempt
can end only with 1-2 attempts. I worked hard on sorting it out, “Really, which direction
is more likely being fertile sole? First, readers
who are accustomed to reading the previous books don’t know that their action
to turn pages is hard labor. However, if you start appreciating
with a physically minimal movement it is hard to go back. Of course, for some,
turning pages is delightful experience. Whenever a technology develops the first thing humans realize is that, “A limit of our laziness was not here. We can be even lazier.”
(Laughter) Development of all media
also make us to say the same thing while they develop
appreciation environment. inertia of a thumb
is stronger than you think. There are not many methods to stop that. This causes us to think
that it would be better not to stop. Of course,
there is an exception like this. The author, Horang’s cartoon called,”
A Ghost at Oksu Station.” It is little scary. Because it is a horror cartoon. Making it to be able to stop the scroll
in the middle like this, means very powerful contents,
exceptional. However, most attempts except
this is the reader’s passive appreciation, is to keep the rule,
“Show me the screen in front of the eyes with a least physical movement.” is likely to be fertile sole, I think. In addition, there are many more. An excessive technical intervention
that interfere the image of cartoon can hinder the appreciation. However, except that,
as for the most applied attempts currently Korea’s Webtoon readers are adopting very quickly and powerfully. In the world, here are examples
of countries, having their own cartoon. Aside from that, most countries depend on
importing for their entire demands. As you can see, Japan
and the U.S. are strong. Their own comics that
has European’s time honored tradition. Among them, there is Korea. Countries that serve Webtoon: For the first time, only Korea appears.
(Applause) The spots next to are France and Japan. To be exact, Belgium and Japan. In fact, to call it “service”
is little short, because it is
kind of introduction or attempts. Korea’s Webtoon, to my knowledge,
is viewed 1,400,000 plus alpha. In my opinion, there are many portals, So approximately
2,000,000 people seems viewing. No single medium set the record
of such viewing in history of Korea. Moreover, cartoon
is always compared to Japan, In a way, Webtoon is settling in as a new cartoon culture,
representing Korea. Long time ago,
during my middle school period, I read an interview script of an author,
Kim Jin, who drew “Country of Wind,” when, “For prospective students
who want to be cartoonist, tell us a path
to become a cartoonist,” he said this: “There is no path to become a cartoonist
but only a will.” (Laughter) That is one side
of Korean Cartoon’s history from one perspective. Because when cartoonists
led on to open a path, censorship or numerous kinds
of iron wall would remove it. Inside is Korean Cartoon world,
which was scarred existence with struggles and surviving,
for the first time, through an independent format,
Webtoon, is showing something. Perhaps it can be in 5 or 10 years,
or even earlier, that all cartoonists
and cartoon theorists around the world predicted,
the future outlook of cartoon we don’t know what exactly
is but certainly new, and things that are only Korean, perhaps at the closest distance
and in the quickest time you will meet them in Korea. And also then, I want to work on a borderline. Thank you.
(Applause)

9 comments on “A storyteller explores beyond the boundary of cartoons and webtoons: Jongbeom Lee at TEDxSeoul

  1. I was ganna ask what was the webtoon at 12:31 but i found it. 😀 looked really powerful with that music!
    but whats the webtoon that had that hand pop out?

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