Manhua (Mànhuà) are Chinese comics originally produced in China. Possibly due to their greater degree of artistic freedom of expression and closer international ties with Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan have been the places of publication of most manhua thus far, often including Chinese translations of Japanese manga.
The Situation in the Far East, an 1899
The oldest surviving examples of Chinese drawings are stone reliefs from the 11th century B.C. and pottery from 5000 to 3000 B.C. Other examples include symbolic brush drawings from the Ming Dynasty, a satirical drawing titled "Peacocks" by the early Qing Dynasty artist Zhua Da, and a work called "Ghosts' Farce Pictures" from around 1771 by Luo Liang-feng. Chinese manhua was born in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, roughly during the years 1867 to 1927.
The introduction of lithographic printing methods derived from the West was a critical step in expanding the art in the early 20th century. Beginning in the 1870s, satirical drawings appeared in newspapers and periodicals. By the 1920s palm-sized picture books like Lianhuanhua were popular in Shanghai. They are considered the predecessor of modern day manhua.
In 1925, the political work of Feng Zi-Kai published a collection entitled "Zi-Kai Manhua" in "Wenxue Zhoubao" (Literature Weekly). While the term "Manhua" had existed before when borrowed from Japanese "manga", this particular publication took precedence over the many other description of cartoon arts that came before it. As a result the term manhua became associated with Chinese comic materials. The Chinese characters for manhua are identical for those used in Japanese manga and Korean manhwa.
One of the first magazines of satirical cartoons came from the United Kingdom entitled "The China Punch". The first piece drawn by a person of Chinese nationality was "The Situation in the Far East" from Tse Tsan-Tai in 1899, printed in Japan. Sun Yat-Sen established the Republic of China in 1911 using Hong Kong's manhua to circulate anti-Qing propaganda. Some of the manhua that mirrored the early struggles of the transitional political and war periods were "The True Record" and "Renjian Pictorial”.
Up until the establishment of "Manhua Hui" in China 1927, all prior works were Lianhuanhua or loose collections of materials. The first Chinese manhua magazine, "Shanghai Sketch" appeared in 1928. Between 1934 and 1937 about 17 manhua magazines were published in Shanghai. This format would once again be put to propaganda use with the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War. By the time the Japanese occupied Hong Kong in 1941, all manhua activities had stopped. With the defeat of the Japanese in 1945, political mayhem between Chinese Nationalists and Communists took place. One of the critical manhua, "This Is a Cartoon Era" by Renjian Huahui made note of the political backdrop at the time.
The turmoil in China continued into the 50s and 60s. The rise of Chinese immigration turned Hong Kong into the main manhua-ready market, especially with the baby boom generation of children. The most influential manhua magazine for adults was the 1956 "Cartoons World", which fueled the best-selling Uncle Choi. The availability of Japanese and Taiwanese comics challenged the local industry, selling at a pirated bargain price of 10 cents. Manhua like Old Master Q were needed to revitalize the local industry.
Since the 1950s, Hong Kong's manhua market has been separate from that of mainland China. Hong Kong's transfer of sovereignty back to China in 1997 may signify a reunification of both markets. Depending on how cultural materials are to be handled, especially via self-censorship, the much larger audience in the mainland can be beneficial to both.
DevaShard Hong Kong's First International Manhua
In 2006 Fluid Friction Comics became the first International comics company to open offices in Hong Kong and write and publish comic books in traditional Chinese. Perhaps this is an indication of changes to come and a further development of the HK Manhua industry.
Tony Wong Yuk-Long is a Hong Kong based manhua artist, publisher and actor who wrote and created Little Rascals (later re-titled Oriental Heroes) and Weapons of the Gods. He also wrote adaptations of Jin Yong novels such as The Return of the Condor Heroes (and re-titled it as Legendary Couples), Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, and Ode to Gallantry. For his contribution and influencing a generation of artist in the local industry, he is regarded as the "Godfather of Hong Kong comics" or "Hong Kong's King of Comics".
He provided the art for Batman: Hong Kong, which was written by Doug Moench. He has also occasionally acted in movies, including the film adaptation of his own Oriental Heroes.
• Oriental Heroes (Lóng-Hǔ-Mén "Dragon-Tiger-Gate") o Originally titled Little Rascals (Cantonese Yale: Síu Làuh Màhn)
• Weapons of the Gods ( Shén-bīng Xuánqí "Mysterious Weapons of the Gods") or Magic Weapons
• Mega Dragon and Tiger (Lóng-Hǔ 5-shì "Dragon and Tiger V")
• The Legend of Emperors (Tiānzǐ Chuánqí "Emperor Legend") about the first Emperor of Tang Dynasty, Li Shimin
• Legendary Couples (Shéndiāo-Xiá Lǚ "Companion of the Condor Hero") adaptation of Jin Yong's The Return of the Condor Heroes
• Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils (Tiān-lóng-bā-bù)
• Buddha's Palm (Rúlái-shén-zhǎng) loosely based on Gu Long's The Legendary Twins
• Drunken Master (Zuìquán "Drunken Fist") nothing to do with Jackie Chan's Drunken Master. The main character was named Wong Mogei
• Wong Feng Lei