I thought we would go to Taiwan today. One of the great things about this project of around the world in Graphic Literature is discovering the terms used for the medium. I call it Graphic Literature and comic books at times. I use Graphic Literature to explain what comic books mean to me. They aren’t simply funny books or superhero books. With award winning authors scripting the books, there is more to them than many, most people think.
In Taiwan comics are called manhua, meaning impromptu sketches. The term began in 18th century China and later was called manga in early 19th century Japan.
One thing I’ve discovered while researching for this is that the art is not always the stereotypical art we in America think of as manga. To me, I think what makes manhua or manga or books that is, fit into those two words is the life the art takes on. You can look at a picture and see movement even in a person standing still. No, it’s not evident in every picture but that’s what I see in most.
Another thing is that unlike American comics, manhua and even manga isn’t all about superhero antics. Most are about life, about normal people put in extraordinary situations or even basically a TV show in Graphic Literature form. If it happens in life, it happens in manhua. That’s one thing about manhua and manga and even many European countries, the comic is an art form, not a children’s entertainment. The adults realize the importance of creativity and art.
Today won’t have a lot of background content of the authors and creators as there is a language barrier that I don’t have the time at the moment to work on. But I do have plans for detailed articles around the world and a site to go with them. When that time comes, it will have more to share.
But let’s look at the industry itself now. Big problem. Japan. It’s easier to bring in Japanese manga. For years Manga was pirated in with language changed and some extra art over nude areas added. Then pirating was made illegal in Taiwan and enforced. There is still the problem of creating a strong local industry when it is so easy to import. This forced the king of pirating, Tongli Comics to go legit and create original work as well as obtaining legal rights to import and distribute Japanese manga.
I’ll give a quick list of some Tongli artists/creators.
Beginning with some female creators:
Nicky Lee/Li Chung Ping
Nicky Lee is what one would call the Fashion Manhua queen I suppose. Her books tend toward that look and are done quite well. She has a huge following.
I’m putting a few more images here because, well, AWESOME. Why? American connections to some geekdom moments for me. You’ve got Buffy the Vampire Slayer cover art, Robotech, to me the best ever. Yes, I’ve got all threes series on DVD. Don’t hate me because I get my geek on. And Racer X of Speed Racer fame.
“You really have to have the desire to be a storyteller to be a comic book artist. The desire to draw cartoons or superheroes isn’t enough. In fact, the skill to draw is almost secondary. You must first want to tell stories. Once I started down that path, there was no looking back. I was hooked.”~Jo Chen
Some of the artwork and titles.
I’ll leave it at that for today. I have obviously missed out on the very important manhua in Taiwan’s history but like I said, I will be devoting more time to it.
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