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Internet spurs home-made cartoons


15:40, July 14, 2013

BEIJING, July 14 (Xinhua) -- A domestic cartoon has raised 1.19 million yuan (194,000 U.S.dollars) through online donations and payments, illustrating the power of the Internet and its role in the cartoon industry.

"100,000 Bad Jokes," a series that includes 11 five-minute long episodes, has now had more than 500 million clicks after it premiered in July 2012.

The series is adapted from the traditional Chinese cartoon called the Seven Brothers of Calabash. The new cartoon consists of seven characters that try to save their fathers from snake spirits. ( The cartoon was created by netizen "Hanwu" and shown on the online platform "Youyaoqi."

Neither Hanwu, an IT programmer, nor Youyaoqi anticipated such success.

Youyaoqi offers opportunities for those wanting to create their own animated cartoons. Nearly 10,000 cartoonists have registered with more than 20,000 pieces of work published.

Zhou Jingqi, 31, founder of Youyaoqi, classes himself as a "rule breaker" for not following in the footsteps of the country's stereotyped cartoon industry, as cartoonists primarily counted on magazines and then waited to see if they would be turned into film.

China's cartoon industry previously operated as a mere "manufacturer" of foreign animated products, winning little global recognition, according to Zhou.

"Internet now rules," said Zhou. "The Internet is a platform allowing authors to communicate with the audience directly."

On the platform, the paying audience can watch latest chapters in advance. They can also vote for favorites and provide comments, which in return attracts more viewers.

Zhou said, "Some people are skeptical of our business. No one has ever done it. Do cartoon makers like to put productions online? Would they go on to do that? How often do you update your series?"

However, problems involving the profit model have emerged.

Zhou said revenue, most of which comes from reader payments, has trickled down into the pockets of contributors. But the website has to explore financing methods to assure more cartoonists are paid.

Youyaoqi said "100,000 Bad Jokes" has successfully raised 1.19 million yuan (194,000 U.S.dollars) through crowdfunding, a collective effort of netizens to pool their money, via the Internet, to support producing cartoons.

Meanwhile, commercial advertisements are popping up in episodes, which has caused complaints among netizens. Some mocked a five-minute-anime that had three minutes of ads and two minutes of story.

Expert said the animation online platform lacks a mature business model so income from "embedding ads" is the only choice.

Gao Weihua, animation department director at the Communication University of China, said the Internet provides free access for individual creators, and offers alternatives from traditional patterns that are more costly and can be harder for works to be published.

However, supervision on the Internet is not perfect and producers should seek a proper business model, according to Gao.

Zhou Jingqi is confident of developing a ripe industry chain including animation-based games, saying the fledgling mobile Internet market has potential.

"We believe it will be able to work. We keep telling our colleagues that we mustn't give up," Zhou said.

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