photo: Łukasz Jarocki / The Book Institute

Bartosz Sztybor in Taipei: Asian audiences appreciate good art and are opening up to foreign comics

"The Asian audience wants something new. You can see inspiration from European comics in Taiwanese or Japanese comics. 'The readers there appreciate good art and are opening up to foreign comics,' Bartosz Sztybor, a comics and film scriptwriter, told Polish Press Agency (PAP) during the Taipei International Book Exhibition.

The Taipei International Book Exhibition TIBE, one of the most important events of its kind in the Far East, has been taking place in the Taiwanese capital Taipei since Tuesday. This is the first time Poland is appearing as Guest of Honour. The event includes meetings with Polish artists, concerts, and the tasting of Polish food. The fair will last until 5 February.

"Comics are very popular in Asia, it's just that they're not called comics, but manga or variations of the word. It looks different in every Asian country. If we talk about manga, it is hugely popular. In Japan, it's a big part of the pop culture market. These things are screened, they are very popular over the years, a lot of series are long-running. I'm talking about comics that have been published for 10 years. It is common for authors to do just one comic book or two or three series over a lifetime, and that's it. In Asia, especially in Japan or Taiwan, comics are very popular," Sztybor said in an interview with PAP.

Sztybor pointed out that in Asia, European or American comics are less popular. "Indeed, the most popular works are the original ones from the countries in question," he pointed out. Asked whether this makes it a difficult market for Polish creators, he replied, "It is a difficult market because it is difficult to access it."

The Polish author added that he "came first and foremost to talk to people, to get to know a new culture, to get somewhat inspired himself, to get to know the expectations of the other side, the local readers". "I've got to know them a bit, and it turns out that some of the stuff that I create resonates with them, that's something that's incredibly important. It turns out that the topics I'm passionate about also fascinate Taiwanese audiences," said the comic scriptwriter.

As he said, during the workshop with readers, "you see a lot of similar thinking". "In what I say about making stories, and in how they receive stories. It's very cool because on the one hand you feel a different identity, you can see the desire to cover different topics, but the emotions are very similar and close to us," he said.

"I like it when something surprises me at meetings, when someone asks an interesting question with which they trigger a conversation. 'I like it when a meeting is not an interview with me and another story about my work but turns into a dialogue in which I also pose questions,' Sztybor said. "I would like to come back from here with energy, an idea, and I feel it is already happening because Taipei is very inspiring," he added.

source: From Taipei Katarzyna Krzykowska, Polish Press Agency (PAP)