Saturday, May 3, 2008

Korean Baseball Comics

Have you ever wondered about how other countries look at Major League Baseball? How they receive their MLB news? Korea has a very interesting way to display their news about MLB and it comes from cartoonist Choi Hoon. About once a week, Hoon draws comics that reflect current issues in MLB, and they are really quite good.

The details in the comics show how in tune other countries are about the story lines in baseball. The comics don’t just show winners and losers, they show fan reactions and player interactions, which is very detailed level of the intangibles in MLB.

Lets break down a recent Hoon cartoon from April 25. A friend of mine, Dan Choi, who runs a blog about the issues surrounding the 2008 Olympics, translated the comic. The comic is not posted here due to its length, so please visit the link.

In the first block, Eric Gagne is coming to the mound in Dodgers gear and the Brewer fans are exclaiming “We’re doomed!” In the next panel, the fans are saying the same thing, but this time, Gagne is in a Brewers uniform. Issue: Gagne becoming ineffective. Also shows fan distress. The Barry Zito comic runs in a very similar fashion. When he is playing his guitar in the Oakland uniform, everyone is talking about how handsome and talented he is. In the next panel, in the Giants jersey, his fans are telling him to focus on baseball. This touches his ineffectiveness from coming over to the Giants and not living up to his contract.

In my personal opinion, the Millar comic is the one that shows the most insight about baseball teams. Millar is a funny guy, but since he signed with Baltimore, he has not getting much attention because the fans here really do not care. In Boston, the fans loved him, in fact he threw an opening pitch for one of the playoff games for Boston last year…when he was still signed with the Orioles. Anyway, in the first panel, Millar is telling a story about him and Manny and a bunch of Red Sox players, and everyone is laughing with him. In the second panel, he is doing the same thing with Oriole players, and no one is listening.

These comics show the stretch of MLB across the globe, and how readers in Korea, not only care about the final score of the games played here, but they also care about the players and the relationships to the team. That’s really incredible considering the distance between the states and Korea and also considering that there aren’t many players from Korea in the Majors.

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