Average-Joes-turned-heroes are common power fantasies in the comic world. Nerdy student Peter Parker shot to fame as Spider-Man after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Carefree and klutzy teenager Usagi Tsukino transformed into intergalactic princess Sailor Moon by some decree of destiny. Depressed loner Cha Hyun-Soo battles inner and actual monsters roaming his world in Sweet Home.
A similar fantasy is playing out in Southeast Asia. The region is gaining lustre as a comic playing field, despite representing less than 2% of the US$7 billion global comic market in 2019, according to a report by investment banking firm Mirae Asset Daewoo Co.