While this is the fourth time that this competition has been held, it is the first since its name was changed from the Morning International Manga Competition (M.I.M.C.) to the Morning International Comic Competition (M.I.C.C.). Throughout the previous three competitions, we found ourselves keenly noticing something. While in Japan the word "manga" (マンガ) encompasses many broad genres and is still home to innovation and freshness, the term "manga" abroad refers to works of fantasy that are drawn in a specific style, and further confined to a small genre.
This time, we saw an immediate change resulting from the contest's revised name, as we received many submissions that could be classified as "seinen manga," the genre that our magazine Morning primarily publishes. Not only that, we also received many highly exciting works with stories and visual designs that we could not imagine ever seeing from creators within the Japanese industry. We value this quality, as seen by the prize-winning works.
This year, Kim DaeJin's "The Unreverberating Echo" (響かないこだま) captured the grand prize. In the past, we had formed a vague preconception that Korean authors' works submitted to the contest were mostly "highly aestheticized stories with flowing lines and a craftsmanlike approach to tone work," but we were pleasantly surprised when this story's individualistic and powerful style overturned this prejudice. The story’s theme also possesses a level of originality that seems very well thought out.
Two second prizes were awarded, one to Tawainese comicker little thunder (小雷)'s "APPLE BABY CAT," and another to British creator Michael Aubtin Madadi's "Starfields." The world created by little thunder is fashionable and exotic, but the underlying tenderness of the work can be understood by all. I believe that little thunder's talent reaffirms the universality of manga. Then there's Michael Aubtin Madadi, whose "heta-uma"-esque (so bad it is good) touch and offbeat sense were swiftly perceived by the judges, who nicknamed him "London's Yusaku Hanakuma." Including Mr. Madadi, half of the works that passed the second screening were by authors from Western countries, including some regions where one could not say that manga is widely read. We found this fact very interesting, as it made us feel a sense the potential that this competition offers.
We now find exhilarating the question of how to foster and give exposure to talented individuals who broaden the borders of manga, beginning with the winners of this competition. The methods to do this may lie beyond the printed book, or even the world of the eBook.
Of course, the sponsor of this competition, Morning magazine, is an entity for whom manga is a business. However, our objective is not to "import" manga authors from around the world. While we naturally hope to encourage and attract talented individuals who could never have been raised within Japan, we do not believe that there would be anything that could make us happier than to "export" the joy of reading manga. We truly hope that increasingly diverse manga, such as the prize-winning works in this competition, will be able to act as a foothold to do just that.
M.I.C.C. Selection Committee, Koji Tabuchi
"The Unreberating Echo"
《Story》 With his college entrance exams creeping up, Chae Jang-Su has been studying hard every day. But something was off about this day. Somehow, all the consonants have disappeared from Chae's textbooks. And then Chae is unable to read or speak a single consonant... So why hasn't anyone noticed what's going on? "@!#?@!." Chae runs wild through the city while screaming these "echoes" understood by no one. This controversial work depicts mankind and the distortions of modern society in a way that embodies the quote by the philosopher Pascal, "Men are so necessarily mad."
≪Comment from the Grand Prize winner≫ I am so thankful to have my work selected this time through. Winning this competition has given me a sense of pride in my work that I will forever cherish, inspiring me to continue to create increasingly excellent works.
To my family, the entire staff at the Bucheon Manga Production Studio that created a comfortable working environment for me, all my friends who where always by my side, and to everyone who worked beside me at the Cha YunKu-Den, these pages of art owe a great debt of gratitude to you. And above all else I would like to express my thanks to Morning for recognizing my work. I am now brimming with an urge to someday show you all the many works I have made to this point. As I want to become a comic artist who is recognized for their great works, I look forward to all your continued support.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ This story’s concept is intriguing. The way that the main character is portrayed won us over instantly. The manner in which he was being drawn into many bizarre moments is excellent. This entry is in the Korean "web manga style," and uses paneling that is different from Japanese manga. Still the story is strong enough to surpass that fact. The very idea of "losing consonants" and the resulting frustration due to an inability to be understood is drawn in a very natural way. Despite the main character not wanting to become alienated by society, he is misunderstood by others, and any struggles he makes only further hastens his own ruin. The empathetic depiction of this sense of tension makes it very easy to feel the author's talents.
Michael Aubtin Madadi／England
《Story》 A low-spec machine from generations past gives birth to the end of a sad romance. This short fantasy story uses slow-paced conversation to create a heartbreaking, gentle, and mature tale. A man sits alone in a park, when a robot suddenly appears next to him. The awkward pair begin to have a clumsy conversation, though neither knows which one started it. And upon asking, "So, why did you go to Doctor Enwa's place?" The robot reveals its tale of a sad, midwinter night. That evening, the bot fell in love with a snowman, but it would be a short, fleeting romance. And he alone was responsible for the loss of his beloved. All he could do under the infinite, starry sky with the "hot" passion of his old-fashioned Braun tube was to eventually run idle. What will this warped, old-fashioned pair ultimately find in the age of hi-spec and the hyper positive?
≪Comment by the Second Prize winner≫ First of all I would like to thank Kodansha for their commitment to such a great competition. I would also like to express how delighted I am to be awarded the second prize. When I think back now making this comic was one of the most enjoyable things I've ever done. I really mean that. And I think if you've asked me then, when I was working on it in the middle of the night, I'm sure I've have said the same. I feel very passionately for these two characters, and if just a bit of that comes across to the reader then I'm more than happy.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ This is a work with a strong sense of individuality. Full of naunces, such as a cast of characters that leave you uncertain of their race or age, it causes one to think that no other person could have drawn this comic. While the story develops in a way that follows none of the rules established by prior manga, a sense of sadness and loneliness is present in the background, leaving the reader with a lasting but indescribable feeling. However, is the work a surreal piece. Or maybe it’s a story that deals with the many subtleties of daily life...? It is hard to tell how it should be read.We felt as though more readers might read this work if the author focused either on the absurd or on the ordinary.
"APPLE BABY CAT"
小雷−little thunder−／Hong Kong
《Story》 It appears to be an apple...but might also be a cat? The inexplicable creature known as the "Apple Cat" one day permeates human life. They multiply, spread, and finally use their charming voices to call out, "eat me." The author's warm yet wistful colors and touch creates an excellent, symbolism-filled work that successfully presents its own clear look at the world.
≪Comment by the Second Prize winner≫ Learning that I was selected as a runner-up has been a real thrill. I have been drawing comics for the last ten years, and have been published in China and Hong Kong. Unfortunately, that has become a sad topic as well as publishing opportunities for comic artists have drastically declined recently. Currently while the creative variety in on the rise there; the number of comic readers is on the decline. Thus comic artists are increasingly searching for other more viable occupations. Comic artists can easily quit, they can put down their pens and simply stop drawing. Among my circle of friends I now only have one who is still drawing, and even that person is gradually moving away from comics. Coincidentally, this has lead to an inevitable feeling of loneliness.
I drew “Apple Baby Cat” a number of years ago. At the time, I put my all into drawing the piece, but regretfully it was never published. So I submitted it under the condition of being a comic creator. Therefore, when I found out that this work was selected, I was ecstatic. I ask you all to please read my entry. And to those who find it amusing, thank you very much, I’m going to continue striving as a comicker.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ This work has very strong art, with its many different types of characters drawn in distinctive ways. In addition, details such as the tone of a conversation between girls, or the overall bodyline work are also expressed well. The modeling of the mysterious titular creature is excellent as well, displaying plenty of the artistic strengths needed to create an enjoyable work.
However, compared to the strengths of the art, the tempo and dialogue content still seems to be lacking. Overall, the artist's talents clearly shows potential, and we greatly look forward to little thunder's next work.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ The fine detail that the story's setting, a fanciful town, is rendered in makes simply looking at this work enjoyable. However, due to too much attention being spent on composition, the character dyanmics and plot are hard to understand, making it difficult to become engrossed in the story. While attention to detail is important, we wish that the author would prioritize creating a story and art that keeps the reader in mind.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ While the story driven by the main character's monologue is flat, the protagonist's behaviors and the appearance of the "god" he sees are surprising, giving this work a strong impact. Unfortunately, this entry’s ending was difficult to understand, and ultimately it did not leave a good impression.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ This work gives the impression that the artist began drawing it before internally sorting out what would be created. While on first glance, the story's world, filled with fantastic monsters, is an interesting one. However, its many enigmas forces the reader to think about what they're reading, keeping them from becoming engrossed in the story. If a story is to take place in a fictional world, we think that it is essential to present truths about that world in order to bring it to life. Creating a framework for a narrative and a solid image of the story's setting would make for better works in the future. Nevertheless, Millett’s art is skilled, and it features a sense of searching for expression.
"The Half-Underground Town"
≪Judge’s Comment≫ An extremely easy to read work. Among all the works submitted it paid the most attention towards entertaining its readers. In particular, it had a strong sense of rhythm. In manga, it is important to pay attention to the rhythm at which the reader turns the pages. Readers should not tire of the successive developments presented in this story. Additionally, the art is not in the excessive style seen in many recent Korean manga, and is instead simple yet charming. However, it would have been a far better work if it was easier to differentiate between the characters' faces. In order to be meaningful, manga must communicate to its readers through a combination of art and words. This entry’s weakness becomes strikingly obvious towards the end, when the characters are jumbled together. As the reade cannot tell who is who in that scene, the story is only half as enjoyable as it could be.
"Dinner for Three"
≪Judge’s Comment≫ While the atmosphere of the work's art shows skill, the characters all speak too much, sadly cutting into the enjoyment that a reader feels when using their own imagination. The work should be a better one if the author gave more thought to how the reader reads it. However, knowing exactly what you want to say and convey in a work is also commendable, and we look forward to the artist's future works.