Kuaikan is ready to bring Chinese comics to international markets

BEIJING (China Daily / Asia News Network): Chinese mobile comic platform Kuaikan has said its goal now is to bring more Chinese comics to international markets.

Kuaikan was founded in 2014 with Chinese internet heavyweight Tencent Holdings Ltd as one of its backers. It raised US $ 240 million in a new round of funding in August, after starting to explore overseas markets in 2018.

Kuaikan offers an extensive library of comics developed by professional creators and a community of fans. The company said in August that it had 100 contract authors and 8,000 content partners.

Experts said Chinese comics, or manhua, feature a wide range of genres and styles ranging from historical adventure to romance, humor and a slice of life. It is not easy to promote Chinese comics abroad.

Still, Chen Anni, CEO and founder of Kuaikan, said the company cooperates with more than 70 comic book platforms covering nearly 200 countries and regions in 12 languages, including Japanese, Korean, English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.

Kuaikan called the August infusion the biggest fundraising operation in China’s comic book industry. Investors include the South Korean One Store app market, Chinese investment firm CCB International (Holdings) Ltd, and existing backers such as Tencent and Coatue Management.

The deal valued the company at over $ 1 billion, a big bet on the mobile digital comic sector, after South Korean tech giant Kakao acquired Tapas for $ 510 million earlier this year.

The August funding will be used for the planned investment of one billion yuan ($ 154.7 million) over the next three years to spur the development of original comics. Another billion yuan will be spent on partnerships for the production of videos and plays based on comics.

Kuaikan will accelerate its expansion abroad. “In Japan, South Korea and other countries where users are willing to pay for comics, we are trying to expand our influence to generate more revenue.

In Southeast Asian countries where comic book communities are growing rapidly, we are trying to attract more people to watch Chinese comics, ”Chen said.

The overseas push was inspired by the success of the domestic market – Kuaikan has over 340 million registered users and 50 million monthly active users in China.

He said 85 percent of his users are young people under the age of 25, and consumers born between 1996 and 2010 (Gen Z) are his target. Quest-Mobile, a research company, has predicted that demographics will account for two-thirds of all online entertainment consumption in China by 2023.

Chen said, “Generation Z consumers pay more attention to content consumption and are more willing to create their own content.

Data from Beijing-based market research firm Guduo Media showed that 80% of the original high-quality Chinese cartoons and comics in China are posted on Kuaikan, judging by user interactions and comments.

Kuaikan hopes to maintain the youth-focused strategy in overseas markets where DC Comics, a division of WarnerMedia, announced a deal in August with Webtoon, a South Korean mobile comics platform, to distribute new character stories. DC in the vertical scrolling mobile. application. This move is seen by many as an attempt to increase the superhero audience among younger readers.

Ren Hongli, Managing Director of CCB International (Shenzhen) Investment Co Ltd, said that as a very young and energetic platform, Kuaikan represents the future of Chinese comics and has already achieved excellent results in the export of Chinese comics.

DC Comics had an interesting try with their new Chinese superhero Monkey Prince. As a spin-off of Wu Cheng’en’s epic 16th-century journey to the West, Monkey Prince was created by Gene Luen Yang and Bernard Chang.

Monkey Prince debuted in the DC Anthology Festival of Heroes: The Asian Superhero Celebration (2021) in May, which generated an immediate buzz among comic book fans.

Edward Cheng, Vice President of Tencent, said, “The prerequisite for China’s cultural works to reach a wider foreign audience, especially the younger generations, is to have excellent, well-told Chinese stories.

Driven by this awareness, Tencent decided to take three approaches: explore the full potential of theatrical subjects based on everyday life; develop intellectual property derived from quality novels, cartoons and comics on the Internet; and foster an ecosystem of content creativity and industrialized production.

For example, Super Cube is a comic book series by Kuaikan about an ordinary boy who provokes underworld gangsters, accidentally receives blessing from the goddesses, and obtains a mysterious cube that brings him superpowers.

Super Cube has become popular on the Japanese platform Piccoma, according to Kuaikan.

“We are using digitization to create an innovative way of creating, distributing and marketing comics. We want to create works that can make the world happy and moved,” Chen said.

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