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Asian Political Cartoons

Asian Political Cartoons

By John A. Lent
Hardcover : 9781496842527, 316 pages, 198 color illustrations, January 2023
Paperback : 9781496842534, 316 pages, 198 color illustrations, January 2023

A comprehensive and heavily illustrated exploration of Asian political cartooning


2023 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title
2024 Eisner Award Nominee for Best Academic/Scholarly Work
In Asian Political Cartoons, scholar John A. Lent explores the history and contemporary status of political cartooning in Asia, including East Asia (China, Hong Kong, Japan, North and South Korea, Mongolia, and Taiwan), Southeast Asia (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam), and South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka).

Incorporating hundreds of interviews, as well as textual analysis of cartoons; observation of workplaces, companies, and cartoonists at work; and historical research, Lent offers not only the first such survey in English, but the most complete and detailed in any language. Richly illustrated, this volume brings much-needed attention to the political cartoons of a region that has accelerated faster and more expansively economically, culturally, and in other ways than perhaps any other part of the world.

Emphasizing the “freedom to cartoon," the author examines political cartoons that attempt to expose, bring attention to, blame or condemn, satirically mock, and caricaturize problems and their perpetrators. Lent presents readers a pioneering survey of such political cartooning in twenty-two countries and territories, studying aspects of professionalism, cartoonists’ work environments, philosophies and influences, the state of newspaper and magazine industries, the state’s roles in political cartooning, modern technology, and other issues facing political cartoonists.

Asian Political Cartoons encompasses topics such as political and social satire in Asia during ancient times, humor/cartoon magazines established by Western colonists, and propaganda cartoons employed in independence campaigns. The volume also explores stumbling blocks contemporary cartoonists must hurdle, including new or beefed-up restrictions and regulations, a dwindling number of publishing venues, protected vested interests of conglomerate-owned media, and political correctness gone awry. In these pages, cartoonists recount intriguing ways they cope with restrictions—through layered hidden messages, by using other platforms, and finding unique means to use cartooning to make a living.


"In its collection of analytical histories and ‘state of the cartooning nation’ for the most important cartoon art territories of Asia, Asian Political Cartoons represents a highly significant contribution to the literature on the form."

- John Etty, author of Graphic Satire in the Soviet Union: “Krokodil”’s Political Cartoons

"In 300 mostly-color and beautifully-laid-out pages Lent takes us deep into the rich and culturally complicated history of the political cartoon in a part of the world that has seen staggering and tumultuous political change over the last century. . . . It’s a grand tour through cartoon territory not very well known by many of us. A journey well worth taking."

- Matt Wuerker, International Journal of Comic Art Blog

"In addition to being a superior one-stop introduction to Asian political cartooning, this book is a pioneering and invaluable resource for visual culture in Asia. Essential."

- J. G. Matthews, CHOICE

"This English-language book will broaden international readers' horizons about cartoons in Asia, a theme that art critics rarely pursue. . . . Coupled with [Lent's] focus on cartoons and comics as well as direct experience in Asian countries, including Indonesia, this book is very valuable, especially for those who want to seriously study the art of visual narrative."

- Ivan Gunawan, Indonesian Journal

"A meticulous scholarly tour de force, Lent's Asian Political Cartoons connects the past, present, and future of the genre in Asia."

- Sheng-mei Ma, Journal of Popular Culture