Monday, August 30, 2010

Let sleeping dogs lie

Or in this case, let one sleeping family poodle lie.

August is coming to a close. I spent most of the month at my parents' place doggysitting while they were on holiday. (Not having a 8-to-7 job makes me a very convenient dogsitter.) Although it wasn't truly "take care of the dog" but more of a "watch the dog sleep" kind of thing. Powersleeping on the sofa, on dad's chair, with a red blanky in my lap (a true lap dog), and smack in the middle of my pillow when I got up for a blink second.

There are rare moments when he does play, but it's quite impossible to get a decent photo.

So, waddaya want? Camera click = instant eye opener. He always looks like he needs a haircut.

Ten years old, and he has the whole family trained just the way he wants.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sweltering summer keeps on goin'

Summer heat rages on but that doesn't mean I can lie back and do nothing. I've been mad busy, running around north, south, east and west. I spent so much time waiting for buses in the burning sun, dripping sweat like a new water gwishin - deodorant was my best friend this month.

Waiting for the bus at Paldalmun (Paldal Gate) in Suwon. A very different atmosphere from Seoul downtown bus stops, it's on one side of a roundabout that encircles the gate. Paldalmun is a part of the 18th century built Hwaseong Fortress, a UNESCO cultural heritage site.

I stood right in front of the open doors of a makeup shop to take advantage of the cool air conditioning they were wasting.

Monday, August 9, 2010

SICAF 2010 - Part 2

And the saga continues...

Wara Store is one of the longest running featured webtoons on portal site Naver. It chronicles the happenings and doings in a convenience store - the interactions between boss, employees, and the customers. Very relatable and funny, and the illustrations cute without going overboard.

Viscat is another webtoon that I like. The characters - cats, ape, catfish (I think), cockroach - are totally bizarre and friendly and likeable.

What's your blood type? Not only do you have to know in case of medical emergency, but it's another common question that you'd be asked when in Korea. Bloodtypes have significant character traits that can't be ignored (of course there are exceptions, but the fundamental characteristics are quite accurate), so it's not surprising that there is a cartoon about this.

"About Bloodtype" started as a simple webtoon on the cartoonist's Cyworld minihompy but soon became so popular it was immediately published, with overseas editions as well. I'm not sure if western culture countries would be interested, though.
The main characters from Chon Kye-Young's "Audition". A classic Korean manwha from 1998 to 2001, the tale is about the televised audition process for a band. This was before all those reality music programs were on, so the manwha was exceptionally popular with its concept and K-pop idolesque characters.
It was said a live musical version would take the stage this summer, but there hasn't been any news yet. There's bound to be at least one or two K-pop idols starring in this (depending on whether they can afford it or not) so I'm really looking forward to the casting.

What's a cartoon festival without the Smurfs? A whole Smurf Village was set up, promoting the upcoming 2011 3-D movie.
I'm accustomed to seeing the cartoon in Korean, so with the exception of Papa Smurf, Gargamel, Azrael, and Smurfette whose names are kept in the Korean version, seeing the other smurfs' names in other languages always seem a bit strange. ("Hefty" smurf, really?)
The photos that I took in the international booths weren't very good. Most of the original artwork were behind glass, which kept flaring. I liked the work of Italian cartoonist Marco Rizzo.

Monster Bathhouse, anyone? A graphic novel/cartoon by Kim Gyeong-il, the bathhouse depicts the connection between hell and the human world, where the "monsters" of hell come to rest aftering long working hours of torturing humans. Some evil humans come into this bathhouse by mistake, and have to pay the price. The monsters who come to this bathhouse and encounter these humans discover that "some humans are more cruel and monstrous" than themselves.
The walk-in exhibit was interesting. Video clip with my usual bumbling commentary:

It's always a pleasure to peek into the imagination of others. Digital cartoon "Alligator, Girl" tells a tale of a lost alligator in search of its mother and an encounter with a city girl. I need to find out where I can see the whole story.
"Ugly Rabbit" by university student Yoon Sun-Young. I don't think it's ugly. At all. And I'm not saying that just because I like rabbits.

Lee Yunmi, aka Yumma, was painting her trademark "antler girl" at her booth. I seriously want to purchase one of her originals because I'm unable to paint anything that sweet.

Illustrator and plush doll maker Ppoyanbi's booth. I wanted one of the smaller yellow-haired dolls, but alas, she wasn't selling.

Unfortunately, I've misplaced the namecard for this illustrator. Her little girls and kitties would be perfect for children books.

I've discovered that artists always have preferred color palettes; they might go through phases but the main colors they use remain more or less consistent. I liked NABULRAE's colors. I also liked the aloof expressions of his characters, which he showcases on his blog.

Future illustrators/cartoonists. The kids were darn serious while drawing. I wonder who drew the kinder, gentler version of Spongebob.

My old friend, Haechi! Still smiling and adorable.

Raiiiiiin! No convention is complete without a K-star promoting something. Nikon has a tight hold on the DSLR market here but I've never, ever seen someone using a Nikon compact.

The air was stuffy in the exhibition halls. As a means to conserve energy, the government has regulations for establishments with large spaces to maintain indoor temperatures at over 26℃ and not run air conditioning full blast. It has prevented many a power outage and unnecessary overchilling, but it also means that most shopping centers and department stores, banks, public transportation, and exhibition halls won't be the cool haven that they had been in previous years. A lot of Korean businessmen go in short sleeve dress shirts with no ties during the summer, and I envied them at the end of the day; I had leggings on beneath my shorts, along with my Dr. Marten's - bad outfit choice.

Reflection in a fun house mirror, where I found myself too short to take advantage of the doodles provided for amusing photos. If I were the organizers, I would've prepared them at various heights - what are the kids supposed to do? But then again, it could have been the handiwork of vandalists of equal height who thought they were being funny.

When SICAF first launched years ago, there was more emphasis on the Cartoon & Animation Festival than the Character Licensing Fair. That has changed slowly over the years, and this year the CLF totally overpowered the CAF, whose section was put away in a small exhibition hall on a separate floor. Although the exhibitions were thoughtfully prepared, the sheer volume in comparison to the CLF was disappointing. There were no cosplayers (none! I was shocked), no throngs of overzealous manwha enthusiasts roaming about, no large publisher booths promoting the latest comics.
I understand that people have to make a living in this capitalist society and have no problem with art being as commercial as much as it wants to be, but sometimes it seems like merchandise and licensing are becoming the objective of cartoons/comics rather than the content itself. Saddening. There is a part of me that wants to see dreamers creating their visions just for the sake of it; this world needs idealists, we're running short of them so much.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

SICAF 2010 - Part 1

I'm at the family homestead doggysitting spoiled rotten poodle Cocoa (it's impossible not to use those adjectives every time I describe him) while the parents are on holiday, so I'm taking advantage of the air-conditioned environment to catch up on overdue posts.

The 2010 Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival took place in July. I go every single year - check out last year's posts in the 2009 August folder - but was totally unprepared for the large family crowds on a weekday. Yeah, I know the kiddies are on summer vacation but still!

The event was held at the COEX.

The Character & Licensing Fair section was booming this year.

I took a (shaky) video clip of the CLF section while jabbering away:

Entry bracelet!

What are Canimals? Guess.
(Pretty obvious.)

Ttu-a-ttu is an alligator or a crocodile that doesn't have a website. -_-;;;

What is a character fair without Pokemon Pikachu?
(LOL at the mom being more excited than the distressed kid.)
Cocomong is a happy monkey!
Banc look so much like hairless Lego minifigs.

Bomai is a smiling child of spring: bom (봄, spring) + ai (아이, child)

Yoohoo and friends. I like these big-eyed fellas.

Modern look Atom by Tezuka Osamu. ("Astroboy" in English-speaking countries; perhaps because of the negative connotations of the atomic bomb? I don't understand why it had to be changed, considering "Atom" itself is an English word.)

Rubberball pool at Dibo's playground was really popular for the toddlers.

The Dokkaebi mascot of Songnisan promotes the Dokkaebi Festival. (Held Aug 7th~ Aug 8th so if you're in the area go have a look! Wish I could go but I'm stuck with the family dog.)

Baby dinosaur Dooly is Korea's Snoopy. He's been around since 1983.

And say hello to Captain Park, aka footballer Park Jisung's cutie-patootie alter ego. (Korean men aren't afraid to be cute; it is an essential element in Korea's modern culture.)

I hadda take a pic, with my deer-in-headlights eyes and frozen toothy grin. (Dorky dork! And I really need a haircut.)

To cleanse your eyes, here's the cute helper from the Kambu booth. ^_^

To be continued...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fiery hot days and tropic nights

Kids playing in the water fountains at Gwanghwamun Plaza
(Photo from Yonhap News)

Is it hot as heck where you are as it is in Seoul? It's a sticky, stifling, fry-an-egg-on-the-hood-of-your-car, watch-the-steam-rise-from-the-city-asphalt, shirt-will-be-wet-after-a-5-minute-walk, sweltering, melting hot hot hot summer here.

Summer is my favorite season (I'm so bad with cold) but wow, is this year's unrelentingly brutal. My brain cells have gone on vacation. I'm letting them play for a bit more; they've been on overdrive for quite a while.