May 14, 2022 10:14 pm

Miriam Bonastre, the young Spanish author who triumphs in the world of Korean ‘webtoon’

Beyond ‘The Squid Game’ and K-pop, the unstoppable Korean culture has managed to extend another of its tentacles over the West: the ‘webtoon’. It is a comic format designed exclusively to be read on mobile, sliding the screen down without needing to ‘zoom’. Free and open to anyone who wants to publish, the platforms dedicated to its dissemination add up to millions of users, fans of its particular ‘star system’. Webtoons is the leader in the sector and that is where it has managed to put a pike Miriam Bonastre (Pineda del Mar, 1994), who was also part of the creative team for the El Rubius series ‘Virtual hero’. His ‘webtoon’ ‘Hooky’ has reached more than 95 million views

unique and a score of 9.8 out of 10 in the English version of the platform (in 2014 it reached an agreement with Whatpadd to expand into Western markets). The comic now sees the light on paper and in Spanish by the publisher Martínez Roca, after its brilliant passage through the US market, where it has been on the list of best-selling comics in ‘The New York Times’.

«It was Clarion Books (the children’s and youth label of Harper Collins in the United States) who suggested it to me because they were looking for something on Webtoon focused on boys of 12, 13 and 14 years and ‘Hooky’ is aimed at this ‘target’, so I’m very happy, of course. Although we are already used to reading on mobile, people my age still look forward to publishing on paper. It’s like that like that you become a real author“Bonastre told ABC.

Redo what has been

Then began the arduous task of adapting the magical story of twins Dani and Dorian to paper. The author published a chapter a week on the aforementioned platform four and a half years (“To this day I still don’t know how I did it,” he acknowledges), with a whopping total of 222 episodes. «There you have infinite space to tell what you want and the vignettes are vertical. When it came to turning it into a book, I had to carry out all the work of layout and redesign very big. They offered me to do it from the publisher, but the narrative that you have as an author matters a lot, so I had to do it yes or yes. In the end, synthesizing turned out to be a very interesting exercise. I had a great time“, explains Miriam.

A curious journey, since Dani and Dorian were born as a traditional comic. “In 2014, Webtoon held an international contest, to get known and catch talent from outside of Korea. There I presented ‘Hooky’, but in page format. Even though I didn’t win it, I kept posting it on the platform on my own. After two months They told me that they liked it and that they hired me. From there I did have to learn this narrative«, admits the creator of ‘Hooky’. The peculiar journey of the format has run parallel to the language, since Bonastre wrote the scripts in Spanish and gave them to a translator to translate them into English. “And now again in Spanish,” he continues. It is a very strange turn that he has done. When Martínez Roca gave me the translation, I changed some details just to make it the same as I wrote it, but I am very happy with the result. Apart from the fact that it is my language, I can see it in bookstores (I published it first in the United States but I have not traveled there due to the pandemic), which is what I was most excited about.

reading community

‘Hooky’ is aimed at an audience with a complicated age, between 12 and 14 years old, in which many boys abandon drawings or comics for considering them already childish, but Miriam does not see it as a challenge, but rather as something rather natural: «I connect a lot with that age group. There are many works that made me not stop consuming comics, novels or cartoons at that time. I did just the opposite. I carry Harry Potter, the Studio Ghibli films or ‘Avatar, The Legend of Aang’ in my heart. When drawing I keep in mind what my 12, 13 or 14-year-old self would have liked, which still somewhat coincides with what I like now«.

In addition to that coincidence in tastes, the creator of ‘Hooky’ acknowledges that the connection with the community of readers that Webtoon creates is irreplaceable: «I’ve gotten used to it and I don’t know how they’re going to get me out of there. Week by week they are there following the story, living it and commenting on it. Depending on the chapter I posted, I had anywhere from hundreds to thousands of comments. Obviously, he did not answer all of them, but he did read many. It was a constant source of motivation to see that people were pending«.

Now, being so up to date with the reactions has brought consequences. “My idea was that repellent characters would mature and grow throughout the story. Seeing that in the comments my readers wrote that they did not like them, I accelerated the evolution, the process. I’m not proud of it, but it’s something that happened.” Miriam hopes it won’t happen again in the new ‘webtoon’ that he is preparing currently in which he leaves the world of ‘Hooky’, but not his fantasy universe.

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