Nowadays, we read webtoons on our smartphones or computers. However, less than 10 years ago, people read comic books. Hur Youngman is often refferd to as the father of modern comic books among the many renouned comic artists. His works have been praised since the 70’s and have kept their popularity until today. Not only is he a famous cartoonist, he is also the teacher of other famous cartoon artists. Hangaram Design Museum at Seoul Art Center is exhibiting his artworks for the first time.
Birth of a Legend
The third child from a family of eight children—four sons and four daughters, in Yeosu, Hur Youngman became interested in comics as an elementary school student. Immediately after graduating from high school, he headed up to Seoul to study about comics under Park Munyoon. By 1974, he has become a freelance artist, and after the success of his 4th comic book Gaksital, he was recognized as a great cartoon artist. Since the 1970s, he has illustrated over 215 comic books. Although he is now almost 70, he continues to work in the field and this April, he released a new book titled Would you have a Coffee with Me.
Comic Books Transform Others
Hur Youngman’s comics were not merely comic books. He inspired other artists and transformed his paper creations were transformed into animations, dramas, and movies. Fly, Super board, a comic book written in 1990 was turned into an animation that ran from 1990 to 1992, and then again in 1998 and 2001. This animation was famous among children. In addition to being turned into an animation, in 1994, his work entitled Beat was made into a movie starring Jung Woosung and Go Soyoung, which made both actors stars of the 1990s. The movie Mr. GO in 2013 originated from Hur’s comic book The 7th Corporation of Baseball Team. In terms of drama, one of his early works Gaksital was made into a KBS drama in 2012 starring Joowon. Because of his influence in many fields, the movie producer Kim Dongju once said, “Hur Youngman is his own brand.”
Time Spent on Masterpiece
Hur Youngman’s works are quite famous among people in their 40’s. For the younger generations, Shikgak may be his best known work. Shikgak is a comic book related to cooking. The comic book illustrates the many types of Korean food from the various areas of Korea. The book took many years to complete. He has also produced The Warrior that doesn’t Get Down from Horse, which is a comic book story about Chingiz Kahn the first king of Mongolia. It took Hur 10 years of research and a travel to Mongolia to get the correct information needed to create the book. While working on this book, Hur said “I regret not being a writer.”
I Dedicate This to You, Great One
The artwork on display at this exhibition is not all Hur’s. Architect Jung Sungchul created an art piece that paid homage to Hur’s fingerprint. Jung’s work honours his many comic books and praises his great work. In addition to Jung’s piece, there are statues of Hur’s comic book characters by artist Park Kibung. Park created statues of the main characters in Gaksital, Mudang Spider, The 7th Corporation of Baseball Team, and Shikgak. Also, pop artist Lee Donggi unveils oil paintings motivated from Hur’s comics to the public for the first time at this exhibition. He also said “Reading his comics, I felt he was a genius.”
My Teacher, My Teacher
“Mr. Hur is very passionate. He competes with his pupils. Doing this work, I feel alive. As I create each page, I always remember the time when I was his pupil, and this helps me to keep struggle to achieve my goal. I really like this feeling. I think he should be referred to as an ‘author.’ My entire theme is centred on him. He is like a father to me.” These are the words from cartoonist Yoon Taeho, author of the comic book Miseang, which was turned into a successful drama last year. In 1988, he was under the mentoring of Hur Youngman and for two years he was Hur’s pupil. During that time, he helped his teacher draw Wall and Hammer. This exhibition also displays Yoon’s work when he was being mentored by Hur, so it is an added bonus for visitors. It gives them the chance to view original paintings by Yoon as an independent cartoonist. People usually say, while USA has Tim Burton, Korea has Hur Youngman. This exhibition is the first of its kind. It is the first ever Korean exhibition of artwork by domestic artists. Besides the artwork aforementioned, at the exhibition, visitors learn how Hur’s coworkers felt about him and his daily life. Moreover, visitors can see original illustrations of Gaksital made in 1974 for the first time ever. Visitors are given the rare opportunity to meet with Hur in person from June 13th to 27th at 2:00 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. With so much to offer, the reporter recommends going to the Hur Youngman, The Secret of Creations exhibition.