October sees another "Apple" fall into comic shops, as the second edition of UDON Entertainment's Korean artist anthology series arrives in stores. The richly-produced "Apple" books, a companion series to UDON's "ROBOT" series that spotlights Japanese artists, featuring pin-ups, short stories, serialized comics, and concept art from illustrators and designers who have established reputations in comics, video games, animation, or other creative media in Korea but may not be well known to Western readers. CBR News caught up with UDON Marketing Manager Matt Moylan to discuss "Apple" Volume Two and the series' goals for both its readers and creators.
Like “ROBOT,” “Apple” is a bit unusual in that it's both an art book and an anthology of narrative comics. But this arrangement gives rise to impressive volumes that can be admired at a glance by flipping through and enjoyed for the stories they contain. The flexible format also fits well with the high concept of the “Apple” series.
“The overall goal when Eddie Yu began 'Apple' in Korea was to give these great illustrators a place where they can explore their original ideas, and also have their talent exposed to the public,” Moylan told CBR. “Many of these creators work in the gaming industry as concept artists or character designers. Since they work behind the scenes, their art isn’t always seen by the public, which is a shame for such talented people.
“Here on the North American side, we’re also hoping to help Korean illustrators as a whole become more popular and accepted outside of Korea through both 'Apple' and our Korean Manhwa line. Readers will find that the art here absolutely on par with the most well known Japanese anthology series 'ROBOT,' but that 'Apple' also has plenty of unique ideas and styles of its own.”
Each volume of “Apple” includes work by Korean designers, video game artists, and other illustrators, giving each the opportunity to try out their skills in a new arena or develop new ideas for their home field. “Several of the ideas you’ll find in 'Apple' are ‘concept art’ type pieces that could potentially become video games or fully animated projects in the future,” Moylan said. “Each artist retains ownership of his original ideas featured in the book, so hopefully the exposure they’re being given in the book will help some of them take their ideas to the next level.”
For some of these artists, comics represent a chance to present achieve individual recognition and present stories from their own personal visions. “Comic stories, particularly short stories like the ones in 'Apple,' give the artists the opportunity to create something they can truly say is uniquely their own. On an animation or video game project, you are almost always part of a large team. I’ve heard many artists who work in the gaming industry talk about how they feel at times like just a cog in the machine,” Moylan explained. “In 'Apple' each artist has been given the chance to produce a fully formed world of their own, and tell their own story from start to finish.”
Moylan also noted that comics have the advantage of being unencumbered by the sorts of budget concerns that can intrude upon creative vision in other media. “You can create an epic Star Wars-style story or a simple Seinfeld-type comedy for pretty much the same budget. You’re limited only by your imagination.”
Several stories that were “to be continued” in Volume One return in the second edition of “Apple,” and new series will premiere, as well. “Many of the 'ongoing' stories will have a chapter appear each volume. In 'Apple' Vol.2, for example, we have the second installments of 'Shoku,' 'Burnboy’s Love,' 'Gerard Croisier,' and 'Ellin’s Walnut Pie.' Other ongoing stories will return in future volumes, while some artists who contributed one-off, self-contained stories will be returning with completely new tales,” Moylan said.
As for new tales, “our headliner this volume is Hyung Min-Woo, known mainly for his popular 'Priest' manhwa series,” Moylan said. “He’s presenting the first chapter of 'Ghostface,' an action-thriller set in a dark and dystopian future.”
In addition to 'Ghostface,' Moylan teased that several more new series will appear in “Apple” Volume Two, including “Fox Spirit” by Ryu Hun-Yong, a fantasy tale a fox spirit that hunts men to extend its own life yet is hunted by humans in the hope of unlocking its secret to immortality; “Angra Mainyu” by Lee Jeong-Myeong, featuring an eager pair of sword-swinging assassins; Seo Young-Min's “Fascinate: The Witch’s Romance,” set in a medieval world where knights and witches have gone to war; and others.