A greeting from the Airzooo team to internet users. (Internet photo)
Apple's iPad tablet has helped an imaginative Chinese duo create a series of popular animated characters, easily identified by their sharp teeth and evil eyes, the Chinese-language Global Entrepreneur magazine reports.
According to Wu Xiaoyi and Yu Haoyue, creators of the "cloud monsters" in the Airzooo characters series, the animated monsters were designed to be from another planet.
Wu and Yu set up their animation company Airzooo in Hangzhou in 2011, and have created over 300 characters since, the magazine said.
Yu, who graduated from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, is the main artist at Airzooo, while Wu comes up with the short scripts that are published online along with the character.
The introduction of the iPad made all of this devilry possible, the magazine said, since the tablet allowed Yu to develop the characters which he had earlier found difficult to do on other computers.
Unlike several other animated characters like the bunny Tuzki and the fox Ali, which gained their current popularity through cute emoticons created from their images, the success of the Airzooo characters likes in their association with social events, the magazine said.
The first creation by the duo to gain popularity among online users was the high-speed train monster, the idea for which came after they noticed the considerable discussion about the train disaster in Wenzhou in July 2011. Forty people died in the accident, prompting pride in the country's rapid development of high-speed rail infrastructure to turn to concerns that corners had been cut along the way.
"Instead of making complaints and condemnations, it's better to express the emotion through creation. The only thing that can convey our feelings is a powerful image," Wu said.
The high-speed train monster was designed by Yu, who combined the Airzooo style resembling the traditional Chinese art of paper cutting with the monsters' signature wide-open mouth decked with rows of sharp teeth.
Airzooo has since created characters for several holiday occasions, such as Halloween and the Lantern Festival, and for other notable events, including China's successful launch of the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft in June 2012 and the Mayan doomsday prediction at the end of 2012.
Airzooo also collaborated with local websites and events, like Hangzhou's 2011 West Lake International Music Festival, to promote their creations, the magazine said.
The company is facing several challenges, the magazine said, including the fact that its business has yet to turn a profit and that its characters have been used by several companies without permission.
Wu said she has a step-by-step plan to gradually commercialize the characters, but insisted on carrying it out only when the conditions are conducive.
According to Wu, she plans to operate Airzooo as a brand that has good quality and is sustainable, and not as a business that is just about products, which usually have short life cycles.
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