Digital comic readership surges in China, opening opportunities

Global Business

A recent trend in China’s entertainment industry has seen internet novels being adapted into TV series and movies. And now fresh data predicts that comics and animation will be the next big thing.

Readers of online comics in China grew by over 75 percent in 2016, with a notable increase in locally-produced manga, popularly known as “Guoman”.

CGTN’s Ruben Rodriguez reports.

Digital comic readership surges in China, opening opportunities

Digital comic readership surges in China, opening opportunities

A recent trend in China’s entertainment industry has seen internet novels being adapted into TV series and movies. And now fresh data predicts that comics and animation will be the next big thing. CGTN’s Ruben Rodriguez reports.

In the traditional, paper-based business model of comics, emerging authors face one particular problem. Manga artists need to be very skilled in order to convince publishing houses to print their work in magazines. But the internet is now lowering the barriers to enter this industry and now young people with creative ideas can use mobile platforms in order to reach their audience.

According to iResearch, the number of online comic readers in China increased by 76.2 percent last year, reaching 70.75 million thanks to the creation of internet platforms like Youyaoqi. They support emerging talent by uploading and sharing user-generated manga with over 16 million registered enthusiasts.

If they prove popular enough, authors will receive an offer for the IP rights, artistic guidance and a funding plan destined to producing animation series, films and merchandising. A notable project is Requiem Street, created by 28 year-old Shanghai native Xu Chen. It tells the story of an ordinary Chinese girl who becomes an evil spirit hunter. The 24-episode animation series has been played over 250 million times and features English translations.

But it’s not all about platforms. Xiandan Dongman is one of the many independent studios in China trying to revolutionize Guoman through IP conversion with KuaiDi Man. This series centers on an ordinary Chinese deliveryman who transforms into a superhero with special wrapping powers. Online manga was the first step. Based on clicks, views and comments, they modified the plot of each chapter in the animated version. Its initial success was followed by further investment, and the show’s second season looked much better. Now, a movie is on its way. Their secret is deep market research to find out what “value” means for Chinese youngsters born in the 1990s and 2000s.

Even though the industry still needs to find flagship franchises, iResearch predicts that the need for Chinese manga will increase exponentially as its target audience becomes more mature and gains spending power. The long-term goal of platforms and studios is to compete with big, established names like Marvel, DC or Jump Comics.


Nick Stember discusses manhua’s boom in China

For more on the manhua’s boom in China and how the internet is spearheading some of the change, CGTN’s Susan Roberts spoke to Nick Stember, a translator and historian for Chinese comics.