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Cormack-Born South Korean Comic Creator Set To Release 10th Comic Book

Joseph Hewitt poses for photo with a few of his creations on a recent trip to his hometown of Cormack.
Joseph Hewitt poses for photo with a few of his creations on a recent trip to his hometown of Cormack.

Joseph Hewitt is a comic book writer from Cormack, Newfoundland, but has spent the past 19 years writing and working in South Korea.

He initially moved to South Korea after graduating from Grenfell College where he studied English. At that time, he says, moving to a place like South Korea, working for a year, and paying off your student loans was a viable option for a recent graduate.

However, after a year there, Hewitt never looked back.

He currently operates an independent comic book publisher called Polar Bear Comix. The house is preparing to release its 10th book, an anthology titled “Unfortunate Fanfic,” scheduled for release both in print and online this coming fall.

Hewitt says “fan fiction” – the subject of the upcoming release – is embedded within South Korean comic culture – where writing a book in the genre is viewed as a “rite of passage” for aspiring comic book artists.

“Unfortunate Fanfic” sees Hewitt operating as “more of an editor” than a writer or illustrator for the first time in his career. The book comprises the work of 14 other comic book artists, in different parts of the world.

“I contacted some of the writers personally” says Hewitt, about collaborating on the anthology. He also publically made a call for submissions, and was inundated with replies. Mailing rejection letters, he says, “is something I wish I was taught about in school.”

Hewitt completed an MFA in Comic Books through the California College of the Arts last fall. He was able to complete much of the program online, while living in South Korea, and graduated in the second graduating class the program has produced. Last going off there, he studied a personal interest of his, “comic pedagogy.”

Hewitt now teaches at the University of Ulsan, where comic book writing functions as a way to “teach both creativity and English” to prospering Engineering students.

He is also at work on an original comic, which reinvents the fairy tale “Rosenella”, setting it in modern Newfoundland. Despite living elsewhere for the past 19 years, this isn’t the first time Newfoundland has cropped up in Hewitt’s writing. One of the writer’s more popular series’ titled “The Voles of Dusk” sees “little furry creatures” inhabiting a fictitious world Hewitt admits he thinks of as Newfoundland. Although, he says, “I don’t know how well it comes across.”

That book will be ready for release sometime next year. Hewitt says, and he hopes to launch a book in Newfoundland. But if not, his family in Cormack will have to “have a root beer for him”.

Root Beer is a delicacy not available in South Korea; “our biggest problem” he joked.

Hewitts books are available through Polar Bear Comix online at: http://www.polarbearcomix.com/.

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