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Comics Art in China

Comics Art in China

By John A. Lent & Xu Ying
Hardcover : 9781496811745, 288 pages, 109 b&w and color illustrations, July 2017
Paperback : 9781496846471, 250 pages, 109 b&w and color illustrations, April 2023

The definitive book about cartoons, picture books, comics, and animation in mainland China


International Convention of Asia Scholars 2019 Book Prize – Best Art Publication

In the most comprehensive and authoritative source on this subject, Comics Art in China covers almost all comics art forms in mainland China, providing the history from the nineteenth century to the present as well as perspectives on both the industry and the art form.

This volume encompasses political, social, and gag cartoons, lianhuanhua (picture books), comic books, humorous drawings, cartoon and humor periodicals, and donghua (animation) while exploring topics ranging from the earliest Western-influenced cartoons and the popular, often salacious, 1930s humor magazines to cartoons as wartime propaganda and comics art in the reform. Coupling a comprehensive review of secondary materials (histories, anthologies, biographies, memoirs, and more) in English and Chinese with the artists’ actual works, the result spans more than two centuries of Chinese animation. Structured chronologically, the study begins with precursors in early China and proceeds through the Republican, wartime, Communist, and market economy periods.

Based primarily on interviews senior scholar John A. Lent and Xu Ying conducted with over one hundred cartoonists, animators, and other comics art figures, Comics Art in China sheds light on tumult and triumphs. Meticulously, Lent and Xu describe the evolution of Chinese comics within a global context, probing the often-tense relationship between expression and government, as well as proving that art can be a powerful force for revolution. Indeed, the authors explore Chinese comics art as it continues to grow and adapt in the twenty-first century. Enhanced with over one hundred black-and-white and color illustrations, this book stands out as not only the first such survey in English, but perhaps the most complete one in any language.


"You could have no finer guides across the full spectrum of China's cartoons, caricatures, comics, and animation than John A. Lent and Xu Ying. The authors' thorough research and extensive interviewing have resulted in this insightful, essential survey of Chinese cartooning in all its many forms. "

- Paul Gravett, author of Comics Art and editor of 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die: The Ultimate Guide to Comic Books, Graphic Novels, and Manga

"John A. Lent and Xu Ying have made a very significant contribution to the field of modern Chinese visual culture. Their book is admirably detailed and provides a rich resource for both the specialist and the casual reader. Perhaps its greatest contribution is the mass of interview data from the pioneers of the media discussed, many of whom have since died. This is a book that will be enjoyed by anyone interested in the popular graphic arts, humor, and modern Chinese cultural history."

- Richard King, author of Milestones on a Golden Road: Writing for Chinese Socialism, 1945-80; editor of Art in Turmoil: The Chinese Cultural Revolution, 1966-76; and coeditor of Global Goes Local: Popular Culture in Asia

"Comics Art in China is most impressive in its sheer scope and depth of scholarly research encompassing many decades. The abundance of first-hand information received through interviews with major artists leads to major discoveries and new insights into a field that still stands as (comparatively) under-researched. . . . Truly Comics Art in China is definitely a “must-have” for every academic, student, practitioner, or enthusiast interested in the topic."

- Hannes Rall, China Review International

"This is an elegantly-written, well organised book for readers with interest in the historical development of comics art in China."

- Ruijing Wang, Asian Journal of Social Science