Three days left of the A to Z Blogging Challenge and my theme of Comic Book Creators around the World has been fun, and at times frustrating. Each time I find a way to pull something out of the hat. Then we come to the letter X. Now, if you don’t know about the A to Z Challenge, the idea is during the month of April to write, in order, a post about something beginning with a letter of the alphabet. You get Sunday’s off.
I’ve used countries, and provinces. Then I come to the letter X. Do you know how many places of any kind in the world begin with the letter X?
Meet Song Yang from the Province of Xinjiang in China, born in 1981. Magic Box was his first big hit and he was only 17 at the time. He is hugely popular in China. Often called the most popular artist going these days. He’s into fashion, music, everything. How did he get to be so big? One site notes how China attempts to keep Japanese manga out as much as possible and promotes Song Yang at the same time. This gives him a major push. True or not, he’s a big gun in China.
Below are examples of his character, manhua art as well as his gallery pieces. I like the varying styles he displays, and I was fortunate he was the one I stumbled upon.
His series and illustrated pieces include Bad Girl and Wild Animals. And yes, I did share the less bad girl of the Bad Girl. Yang is like a rock star it seems.
And that is it for today. Short and to the point. Several people went through some X places, but not a lot I could find were born in those places.
Two days left. Not a lot of Y and Z places either. Wish me luck searching. And next time, suggest I just go with the letter being like included in the theme somehow.
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.
Today’s article is brought to you by the letter H by way of the A to Z Challenge1 challenge. You can visit them with a list of almost 1800 bloggers from around the world participating in the challenge this month. Click the little 1 and it will take you down to the link.
Now with that out of the way, let’s get to the serious business of comic book creators. Many people don’t understand what comic books or graphic novels are. I am not speaking of Archie or Bugs Bunny. Those may come up at some point but I am looking for books in the form of images and text balloons.
Some of the first exposure to long words can be found in my early days of reading the Fantastic Four with the scientific jargon used. No, not POW! BiFF! BAM!
We’re headed to a land where the comics are called manhua or impromptu sketches. The third largest comic book market in the world, Hong Kong2. I had five countries or regions that operate as separate entities and are recognized as such. I didn’t go to the Holy See, as you can, well as you can see.
Having said that I am not into, for the purpose of these article, Bugs Bunny type comics, let’s begin by talking about a pig.
This artist and writing, respectively, duo brings usMcmug5, a pig’s tale. Those last three words are mine.As well as Mcdull6. Mcmug is one of the most popular characters in Hong Kong and isn’t really a child’s figure. The comic speaks about social concerns in a way that likely can only be gotten away with through this particular style. The series has been running since 1991.
“Drawing is a language to me,” said Ms Mak. “If I don’t know how to say something to you, I will draw it instead.”
Alice Mak and Brian Tse are actually married.7 The formal training Ms. Mak received was from the former Hong Kong Polytechnic Institute8 where she took a design course. Otherwise she watched her elder brother while he took his drawing classes and sought at foreign illustrators for critiques.
Mr. Tse’s influence in regards to his writing is Raymond Briggs9, an illustrator, cartoonist, graphic novelist and author from England. Tse became influenced while studying at the University of Sydney. He and Mak met when he asked her to draw the images for his writings.
Let’s go a little more old school now, and really more where I belong.
You might know him better as Wong Yuk-long or Tony Wong, Mr. Hong Kong comics himself. He brought us what was originally titled Little Rascals but is now called Oriental Heroes11. Why, mentioned? This was apparently the first based on action and fighting. The graphic nature of the early editions lead to the Indecent Publication Law in 197512. The book involves the story of members of a Kungfu school Dragon Tiger Gate. They fight against injustice.
Perhaps the longevity of the series can be attributed to Wong’s willingness and his recognition in regards to changing art style and writing style. As times have changed, so has he. The two covers above are the same series decades apart, both by Wong.
I am happy to notice DC Comics took note of who they called “superstar artist” for their Batman: Hong Kong13 hardcover graphic novel.
I wanted to do something on Theresa Lee Wai-chun of Miss 13 Dotbut I couldn’t find information enough to do anything with. Great art out there though.
I would have also included Old Master Q but the creator, Alfonso Wong was not born in Hong Kong.
Click the link below or the letter to go to Greece.