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The Shanghai Manhua Society : a history of early Chinese cartoonists, 1918-1938 Stember, Nick

Abstract

Towards the end of the 19th century, the first illustrated pictorials began to appear in China. Satirical cartoons found their way into Chinese newspapers and magazines over the following decades, as print technology gradually improved. By the 1910s illustrated pictorials began to proliferate, along with the first examples of humor magazines, a trend which would continue through the 1920s. By the early 1930s, China had over two dozen magazines dedicated to satirical comics, or manhua, as they came to be known. This study looks at the Manhua Society, a group of semi-professional cartoonists whose members were active in Shanghai from roughly 1918 to 1938. By pooling their resources and working under a common banner, the Manhua Society members were not only able to find employment, but also to step into the role of publishers themselves, financed by day jobs in advertising and education. This study reconstructs the history of the society using oral histories, academic studies, and primary source materials (translating many previously unavailable in English). It focuses on eight key members of the Manhua Society: Ye Qianyu, Ji Xiaobo, Ding Song, Zhang Guangyu, Lu Shaofei, Wang Dunqing, Huang Wennong, and Hu Xuguang. These men saw their careers transformed by a series of escalating military conflicts: the May 4 Movement of 1919, the Zhili-Anhui War of 1920, the first Zhili-Fengtian War of 1922, the Jiangsu-Zhejiang War and second Zhili-Fengtian War of 1924, the May 30 Movement of 1925, the Northern Expedition of 1926-1928, including the Shanghai Massacre of 1927, and the first Japanese invasions of Shanghai in 1932 and 1937. Their stories show how the history of Chinese comics was shaped by individuals, as well as organizations. Although this industry was crippled by the Japanese invasion of Shanghai in 1937, the same cartoonists would go on to work in the propaganda offices of World War II, the Chinese Civil War, and the Cold War. In tracing the origins of the Manhua Society, therefore, I argue that it influenced not only the development of cartooning and comics in the Republican era, but also the visual culture of the PRC.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada

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