offers assistance to domestic comic publishers
Producers of Japanese
comics will help Viet Nam develop its comic book market, which has been
dominated by foreign products since 1991.
"Japan will help hone
the comic skills of Viet Nam’s cartoonists and will transfer modern publishing
technology to help make interesting comics with nice designs for young readers,
" Matsutani Takayuki, president of Japanese Comics and Cartoons
He said Viet Nam was a
potential comics and cartoon market with young people accounting for 60 per cent
of the total population of more than 80 million.
"The number of
school-age children is on the rise as is the demand for children’s books with
lively stories, " he said at a seminar organised last weekend in HCM City.
The seminar was organised
by Tokyo Fund, the Japanese Consulate General and the Tre (Youth) Publisher and
attended by many domestic and Japanese artists, writers and publishers.
"To make comics more
attractive to children, it is important to have a well thought-out theme, as
well as familiar and imaginative characters," Tomari Tsutomu, president of
Japan’s Toei Cartoon Film Company, said.
"We have seen many
Vietnamese comics featuring historic personalities and folk tales. I’m sure
that Viet Nam can produce meaningful and interesting stories drawing on themes
from scientific or imaginary worlds," he said.
With some 800,000 comic
books rolling off the presses in Viet Nam each week, comic books have come to
dominate the book market, proving popular with young readers.
However, 95 per cent of
comic books are translations of comic books from foreign countries, chiefly
Vietnamese comics like Bim
va Nhung Chuyen Than Ky (Bim and Marvellous Stories), De Men Phieu Luu Ky (The
Adventures of a Cricket) and Ech Com De Vuong (Green Little Frog, the
King) have received a warm response from young readers.
"But many comics
produced over the years have failed to attract readers because most of them do
not have interesting contents and designs," Quach Thu Nguyet, director of
Youth Publisher, said.
"Young readers choose
to read foreign comic books which feature worlds of adventure, magic, and
supernatural and superhuman events," she said.
Nguyet said the domestic
comic book market began to flourish after the debut of Doremon, a Japanese comic
book which mesmerised local youth and even adults in 1991 and 1992.
After Doremon, Japanese
comics like Dragon Ball, Detective Conan, Teppi and New Teppi have seized the
imaginations of younger readers. "Japanese comic books including Teppi and
Ninja set distribution records in HCM City of 500,000 copies a week in
1993-99," Nguyet said.
"Readers of Japanese
comics may reach between 6 million and 8 million a week," Nguyet said.
She said the titles of
Japanese books published in the country did not drop after Viet Nam became a
signatory to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic
Works last year. The convention calls for the protection of copyrighted works.
Le Linh, an artist from
Tre Publisher said that children don’t like local comic books because the
scripts are not imaginative. "We have yet to create characters attractive
to children like Doremon, Tintin, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck."
Japanese writer Nakano
Haruyuki said the Vietnamese comic book market is similar to that of Japan 30
years ago. "It took Japan 60 years to have its own comic book market.
Before that, Japan had to import comics and cartoons and even had to borrow
foreign names like Mary and Jack for its children books," he said.
He said Japan’s comic
industry had developed thanks to close co-operation between comics and cartoons
"In Japan, the
publication of a comic is followed by a cartoon featuring the story of the comic
and then the production of accessories like shoes, hats, dolls and clothes worn
by the main characters of the comic and the cartoon. This is one of our main
business strategies to attract readers," he said.
"Viet Nam with its
enthusiastic artists and writers and a thriving trade market can apply this
strategy to develop the comic book industry as well as the cartoon
industry," he said. — VNS