Two quick pieces of Chinese-Japanese cartooning and animation trivia that I brought up of today during a conversation with @Brett_Fujioka who felt my post on Chinese manhua unfairly left a discussion of non-Chinese influences, plus one more that I forgot to mention to Brett.
Trivia #1: Japanese Anime (Probably) Would Not Exist Without the 1941 Chinese Cartoon Princess Iron Fan
Chinese film scholars like Carlos Rojas and Eileen Chow love to point out that Osama Tezuka, the godfather of Japanese anime and manga, drew inspiration from the 1941 Chinese animation Princess Iron Fan 鐵扇公主, which directly inspired the Japanese Navy to produce the first feature-length Japanese animated film, ever:
The immediate and wide-reaching success of Princess Iron Fan left a deep impression not only on its domestic Chinese audiences, but on the Japanese Imperial Navy, which promptly commissioned ambitious animation projects of its own aimed at bolstering the patriotic spirit of Japanese children-resulting most notably in Seo Mitsuyo’s Mornotaro’s Sea Eagles (Momotaro no Umiwashi, 1943) and Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors (Momotaro Umi no Shinpei, 1945), the latter of which is recognized as Japan’s first feature-length animated film. Among those who watched these unabashedly propagandistic yet lyrical and delicately drawn animations of patriotic monkey-soldiers coexisting happily with colonized simian jungle natives was a Japanese youth by the name of Osamu Tezuka 手塚 治虫.
Rojas and Chow also point out that Tezuka explicitly references the influence Princess Iron Fan and the Wan brothers had on his career in his last film Boku wa Son Goku (I Am Son Goku)：
Chinese comics, or manhua 漫畫, as they are known in Chinese, are hard to pin down, in large part because the term ‘manhua’ is used in so many different and often contradictory contexts.
Context 1. Manhua which are exclusive to China
“Take Love to the Limit” by Yao Feila // 《將愛情進行到底》 姚非拉
Generally whenever the term is used in English, it refers to Sinophone comics, or what are generally called guochan manhua 國產漫畫, or ‘domestic comics’ within the PRC. In English the term ‘manhua’ is often used highlight the differences between Chinese comics and Japanese manga, similar to the way in which the term ‘manhwa’ is used to describe Korean comics. All the same, these comics tend to be very similar in appearance to Japanese comics. One notable exception are wuxia 武俠 (martial chivalry) comics from Hong Kong which were developed by Tony Wong Yuk-long 黃玉郎 during kung fu craze the 1970s, which seem to have more in common with hyper-muscular American superhero comics.
Context 2. Manhua as inclusive global medium
“Narcissism” by Yan Cong // 《自戀》 煙囪
In Chinese, manhua is a general term which refers to the global comics medium and therefore includes Japanese, Korean and American comics. One of the most interesting ways in which manhua is being created in this context today is the dixia manhua 地下漫畫, or ‘underground comics’ movement which is being spearheaded by artists such as Yan Cong 煙囪 and Chi Hoi 智海, who have helped organized the groups secret comics (aka SC 漫畫) in Beijing and Springrolllll in Hong Kong.
I have to admit I had not heard of the graffiti artist Squid until I came across this image on @101GreatGoals twitter feed:
I also had not heard of Vincent Tan (陳志遠), the billionaire Chinese-Malaysian owner of Cardiff City F.C., who is depicted here in red, about to be eaten by what appears to be an irate Sun Wukong, aka the Monkey King. Tan, it turns out, is not a very popular figure among fans of the Bluebirds, having changed the colors of their uniforms from blue and white to red and black when he purchased the team in 2010.
The upper left corner of the mural identifies the artist as Squid. There isn’t much on him online, although a quick Google search turns up a profile on the graffiti forum Fatcap which mentions that he is affiliated with the MK crew. His name also turns up on various Cardiff graffiti sites. Eventually I was able to track down his Flickr page, which includes a photograph of the mural dated March 12, 2014. I emailed him to see if the allusion was intentional or not:
Have you ever heard of the Chinese legend of the Monkey King, Sun Wukong? Are you familiar with any Chinese comics or cartoons?
Yeah I’ve heard of the monkey king, I have quite a few books by Chinese tattoo artists with him in, I’ve read a few Lone Wolf and Cub comics, mostly samurai stuff which is probably Japanese now I think of it…..
For the sake of comparison, here is two-page spread showing Sun Wukong in ‘fierce mode’ (兇性) drawn by Hong Kong comic James Khoo Fuk-lung (邱福龍):
I recently found out that one of the first and only manhua to be translated into English and published in North America was edited to remove anti-Caucasian racism. In the first issue of the original version of Chinese Hero 中 華英雄, created by Ma Wing-shing (馬榮成) which was published in the early 1980s in 《金報》 [Golden Daily?] , the protagonist’s parents are killed by ‘foreign devils‘ 洋鬼子:
According to the publisher of the 2006 English translation, DrMaster, however “[a]s a child, Hero’s family was attacked and killed by a practitioner of Northern Mantis kung fu.” Rather than going back and re-drawing the comic, though, DrMaster skipped the first [undetermined number of issues of] Chinese Hero comics and jumped ahead to the birth of Hero’s son. The publisher also had the art re-colored and re-touched.
The murder of Hero’s parents by foreign devils is not the only plot point that Anglophone readers of Chinese Hero are missing out on. The original series ran for 159 issues with Ma Wing-shing at the helm before being passed on to Cheung Ma Yau (張萬有) in 1989, with each issue averaging around 130 pages. The eight translated volumes published by DrMaster average around 270 pages, meaning they each contain two issues of the original run. This means only about 10% of Ma’s Chinese Hero have been translated into English.