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Yi Soon Shin Warrior, Defender, Avenger, and Comicbook Wonder!

Robert J. Sodaro is an American born writer, editor, and digital graphic artist, who loves writing about comics, movies, and literature.

Yi Soon Shin Fallen Avenger

Admiral Yi Soon Shin is Korea’s greatest hero!

Admiral Yi Soon Shin is Korea’s greatest hero!

Onrie Kompan and Yi Soon Shin

Back in 2013 Onrie Kompan produced the graphic novel Yi Soon Shin: Warrior and Defender, which was a beautifully-rendered hardbound compilation of the four-issue limited series comicbook that related a historical accounting of one of Korea’s most celebrated heroes, Admiral Yi Soon Shin, who defended his country from a Japanese invasion in the year 1592. The magnificently-rendered, epic story, a brilliant representation of a most amazing battle which took place on both the open sea and on land between the massive invading forces of the nation of Japan, and the (much smaller and not as well equipped) Korean forces.

Yi Soon Shin: Warrior and Defender OGN

Warrior and Defender

While you may not know anything about either Kompan or Yi Soon Shin, he has managed to sell out his series at 50 conventions all over the world, and he’s done this without a mainstream publisher and with very limited distribution (most of his sales are done at comicbook conventions). In Kompan own words he has managed to do this, “By surmounting the impossible, Yi Soon Shin is now living proof that any independent creator can do the same if they’re willing to endure all the hardships that come with pursuing your dreams.”

A historical comicbook

Given that this tale is based on historical facts, the story runs deeper and is far more engaging than your standard superhero fare. As Americans, we tend to think that all the really interesting or notable historical stuff happened to America, or (at the very least) to Americans. Well not only is that not at all the case, it is also a completely skewed version of history as Kompan and his talented team of creators have amply demonstrated, this is a very vibrant piece of history that is unfolding on the printed page. Yi Soon Shin: Warrior and Defender is a beautifully-rendered hardbound graphic novel is a truly terrific retelling of one of historical Korea’s most celebrated heroes. “Admiral Yi Soon Shin is Korea’s greatest hero! He successfully fended off an entire invasion from the Japanese samurai despite being outnumbered 10 to 1. He is one of the only commanders in history to have never been defeated in battle! Every military establishment around the world learns about Admiral Yi Soon Shin.” This larger-than-life story is filled with richly-rendered characters, internal deception, political intrigue, as well as some of the most spectacular battles scenes that you are ever likely to see in comics.

Yi Soon Shin: Fallen Avenger #1 Official Trailer

A Magnificent Story

What this magnificent story does is relate a most amazing battle that took place on the open sea and on land between the massive invading forces of the nation of Japan, and the (much smaller and not as well equipped) Korean forces. To be sure, this is not simply some dry re-telling of some dusty, long-gone historical event, no, this is an amazing and intricately-told tale that — had it contained wizards or dragons — could rival anything written by J.R.R. Tolkien or J.K. Rowling. This is the kind of brilliantly-told epoch that transcends its medium, making history actually come alive the way few history teachers ever. The story of Yi Soon Shin combines the best elements of impressive writing and remarkable artwork which completely envelops the reader into the tale itself; driving the reader through the story and refusing to let them leave until the final page.

Yi Soon Shin: Warrior and Defender

The first series

The first series

The Creative Crew

Kompan and his team went on to follow his firs series up with the release of Yi Soon Shin Fallen Avenger. True to form, the four issues of this sequel are every bit as lushly-rendered as were its predecessors. As with the previous series, this series is co-written by Kompan and David Anthony Kraft (who also edits the series), which is illustrated by Giovanni Timpano, colored by Adriana De Los Santos, and lettered by Joel Saavedra. The sequel series picks up some five years after the initial series, where we learn that Yi Soon Shin has been promoted to Supreme Commander of the Korean Navy with 150 ships under him. However, the war with Japan is not going well. For while Korea has a superior navy, Japan’s army still occupies a goodly portion of the Korean peninsula.

The Sales Crew of the series

The sales team that brings you Yi Soon Shin.

The sales team that brings you Yi Soon Shin.

A True Underdog Story

Needless to say, along with his rise in prominence and power Yi Soon Shin has acquired his share of enemies; most notably in the King, who is not only jealous but afraid that Yi Soon Shin will attempt to usurp him (even though Yi Soon Shin has made it clear that he has no such intention or desire). In addition to the King, some of the other admirals are also jealous of him, especially Admiral Won. The series works its way through not only through numerous layers of intrigue but extremely graphic, action-packed battle scenes, all of which are so completely interwoven with each other that they make for a very fascinating tale. Kompan, who is totally passionate about the series describes it as a true underdog story about never giving up despite all the challenges that life can throw at you. “If you’re a fan of mainstream comics this is your book,” Kompan tells us.

An Epic Battle

A panel from Yi Soon Shin

A panel from Yi Soon Shin

A Profound Historical Work

To be sure, Kompan updates the language for today’s modern audience, and there is some female nudity throughout the series, as well as graphic violence, but all of it is done in order to advance the story, not for prurient interests, or for shock value, but to keep the reader intrigued in the story. Something, that the story, the art, the format, as well as the packaging itself to which all lend themselves contribute. This is a profound historical work that is lovingly rendered with an enormous amount of attention being paid to every detail of its production. It is clear that Kompan is a student of history and is making every effort to not only get everything as accurate as possible, but to tell a compelling tale that will bring these historical events to life for a new generation.

Yi Soon Shin Fallen Avenger #4

Issue # 4 of Yi Soon Shin Fallen Avenger

Issue # 4 of Yi Soon Shin Fallen Avenger

Bringing the Book to the Public

Still, perhaps the most compelling part of this story is that Kompan, who has been self-distributing the comic editions himself, has no national distribution arm. He’s been bringing the comic to conventions, and selling out his supply at each event. “It is no simple task,” Kompan said, “I have worked in every capacity of this business from production to marketing, and of course to sales.” Most big-name publishers have an army of people in every department and rarely do they have the opportunity to truly focus on building the brand of each book or character. “When you wear all the hats, you’re obviously learning things that go beyond comics.” Kompan tells us. “We go directly for the customer and over time this strategy has worked wonders for us as we’ve built a loyal army of readers despite having no publisher and very limited distribution.”

YI SOON SHIN: FALLEN AVENGER #4 2016 Official Trailer #1

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

In conclusion, Kompan said, “Slow and steady wins the race but it’s always great to get a big fat purchase order from Diamond or Amazon. Rather than our books being stuck on the shelves of retailers collecting dust, they are in the hands of our beloved fans who we are beyond grateful for!

Yi Soon Shin Banner Poster

A powerful image from Yi Soon Shin

A powerful image from Yi Soon Shin

© 2016 Robert J Sodaro