A story in The Hollywood Reporter suggests that China is looking to get bigger in the international animation/comics field:
Leading the charge is the city of Guiyang, capital of Guizhou province in southwest China. Since 2007, the city has been staging an annual Asian Youth Animation and Comics Contest, which this year attracted jurists, speakers, panelists and other participants from more than 26 countries and regions, including the United States.
Speaking during the festival’s opening ceremonies, Gao Zheng, deputy director general for the Chinese Ministry of Culture’s Department of Culture Industry, said the comic and animation industry is a key part of China’s culture industry, which is “one of the most important elements for the prosperous development of social culture in the market economic environment.”
Although there are lots of popular Chinese comics — Comics One brought over quite a few, mostly of the Hong Kong street racing variety, and Andy Seto martial arts comics — it remains far less known in the US than Japan or even Korea’s output. Given China’s marketing and sales power, they could become a big player very quickly. But rather than look to print comics, “new media” could be the thin edge:
Wang is hoping new media, and new content distribution platforms, will do for Chinese animation what manga did for anime.
“Now, more and more Chinese people like to read graphic novels and comics, and we have several big publishing houses that are now publishing and releasing cartoon magazines and books,” he said. “But the big breakthrough for Chinese animation and cartoons may be realized by new media.
Tangentially, The Beat is still on a working vacation in Maine, and has been spending some downtime gaming with our mother on the Chinese MMORPG Battle of the Immortals, one of several games produced by Perfect World, a Beijing-based developer. The games feature top notch graphics and an interface that has been heavily Westernized but still contains many grains of weirdness which give it a nice unworldly feeling. (Although the one where you set your avatar to automatically grind while you go off and east cookies and milk might be the most mindless game of all time.)
Free MMORPGs are very popular in China, where it’s a $5 billion a year business. (In America, the likes of Warcraft took in a mere $3.8 billion.) Game addiction is taken seriously:
MMORPGs are especially popular in China because it’s an extremely cheap form of entertainment. The immense popularity of free to play MMOs in China has led the Chinese government to propose and implement various anti-addiction programs across the country. One interesting fact is that subscription based games like World of Warcraft and Warhammer Online have no monthly fees in China. Instead, players use pre-paid cards which are significantly cheaper than the $15/month U.S. gamers pay to access these games. We all know how popular World of Warcraft is in Europe and North America, but it may come as a surprise to some that WoW is much more popular in China than it is elsewhere around the world. It has 2.5 million players in North America, 2 Million in Europe and a whopping 5.5 million in Asia.
If the stuff we’ve seen are any idea of what Chinese animation might be like if unleashed, we should have some incredible visuals coming our way.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.