Some interesting sections quoted from the article linked below.
Liao Bingxiong and Fang Cheng, masters of a fading Chinese cartoon tradition
by John A. Lent and Xu Ying
But in China today, cartooning has strayed from providing a public service or serving as a political watchdog; it has become, for the most part, strictly a commercial venture. Brush and ink techniques have been virtually abandoned, as have literature, folklore, and poetry as content sources. Facial and other features of cartoon characters are now likely to be rendered in the Japanese manga style. All of this has occurred since China accelerated its opening to the West in the 1990s.
Eighty-seven-year-old Liao, whose career spans seventy years, quit drawing cartoons in 1995, disgusted with the “unhealthy, meaningless” nature of modern cartooning and what he referred to as the senseless imitation of Japanese manga.
I guess we can infer that Liao Bingxiong doesn’t like manga?
Beginning with his first published cartoon—in Shanghai’s Time Cartoon magazine in 1932—Liao’s work has been hard hitting and bold. Never the lackey serving his head on a platter to a master, as he depicted in a 1936 cartoon (entitled “A Typical Lackey”), Liao tried to be his own man.
*image at left -j*
For some reason, Bingxiong’s “A Typical Lackey” reminds me so much of some Italian Futurist paintings. I think I’m just seeing things differently today after having spent too much time doing illustrations all night long.
Fang Cheng, another of the few surviving masters of cartooning, also laments the changed cartooning scene in China, stating that the field is filling up with amateurs who do not have drawing skills, do not understand humor as a language, and seldom spend time in intellectual pursuits such as reading. Although many cartoonists in the past did not have formal art training, they were familiar with folk art and literary classics, from which they drew inspiration.
Fang is extremely productive, putting in long hours seven days a week, not only drawing cartoons, but also painting, doing calligraphy, publishing collections of his cartoons (ten so far), and writing theoretical books on cartooning. The latter he considers very important—”to find new ways of drawing” and to pass on his theory of humor and cartoons. Fang says his theory is based on history and on practice, and one of his strongest premises is that humor is the art of language and is characterized by the implied, not direct, approach. By way of example, he said that a sentence such as “When I eat to the full, no one in my family is hungry” implies that the speaker is not married. He prescribed that a cartoonist “must get familiar with somethingand then find the smartest way to say it.”
This is really an amazing look at two “elder statemen” of the mainland Chinese comics/cartooning world. If you didn’t notice the link I posted before, please check out the International Comic Arts Festival website, as Fang Cheng will be one of the speakers at this year’s festival. I would love to see some collected editions of his work.
A retrospective exhibition of Chinese cartoons produced in the past 30 years opens at the National Art Museum of China today.
Typical Chinese animation uses real life for inspiration, then exaggerates and satirizes it. This “historical and cultural” display is the first of its kind in a cartoon exhibition… And it may be the last. So what is the future for Chinese cartoons? Should they stick to their traditional styles? Or should they try and move with the times and become more commercialized? It’s a question Chinese cartoonists will surely be pondering.