Manhua! China Comics Now

CHINA NOW, the UK's largest ever festival of Chinese culture, launches the first ever exhibition in Britain to explore Manhua - the powerful narrative art form of comics and graphic novels in China.

Manhua are poised to become the next global cross-media phenomenon, spinning off into films, television, animation, games, toys and more. The exhibition will take place between 7 March - 11 April at the London College of Communication. The exhibition explores 19th Century Picture Story Traditions, the Modern Manhua Masters, Hong Kong's New Wave movement and China's Next Generation of artists.

With over 200 pieces of artwork and printed matter, this free exhibition presents for the first time ever in this country, the quality, diversity and individuality of recent and current Chinese comics from the last twenty-five years.

The main focus of the exhibition is the next generation of artists who are revolutionising comics today. Works from key artists including Nie Chongrui, Zhang Xiaoyu, Qian Yu and Benjamin Le Soir from China, as well as Chihoi Lee, Hok Tak Teung and Lily Lau from Hong Kong will all be on display. British-based Chinese comics creators Yishan Li, Mr Clement and TH (Tim) Yu, who are included in the exhibition, will create special "live" artworks in the gallery for the public. Master classes, a reading area and hands-on demonstrations will be conducted alongside a one-day academic seminar on Tuesday March 25th with 12 specially invited artists, publishers and experts.

CHINA NOW, is a 6-month nationwide festival of over 800 Chinese events including exhibitions, performances and activities spanning Chinese film, cuisine, comics, art, literature, music, design, science, technology, business, education and sport across the UK. Visit for more details.

Admission: FREE
Address: London College of Communication, Elephant and Castle, London SE1 6SB
Open: Monday to Friday 10.00-19.30, Saturday 10.00-18.00. Closed Sunday & Easter (March 21-24)

CHINA NOW is an independently funded, non-profit organisation which aims to build partnerships between artists, cultural leaders, schools, businesses and communities across UK and China.

CHINA NOW was conceived by the UK business community and is chaired by Stephen Green, Group Chairman of HSBC Holdings Plc. Alan Parker, Chairman of Brunswick Group LLP, and James Hughes-Hallett, Chairman of John Swire & Sons Ltd are Co-Vice Chairmen. The Chief Executive is Simon Heale, the former Chief Executive of the London Metal Exchange.

Exhibition in 4 sections

Picture Story traditions
For visitors to understand where manhua have developed from, this introduction shows China's rich heritage of stories in pictures. Prints and rare original lianhuanhua, palm-sized graphic novels, including political propaganda, history and literature, unofficial pirate versions of Hergé's Tintin, and China's own long-running cartoon boy hero San Mao, soon to appear in a new live-action Franc-Chinese movie.

Modern Manhua Masters
Dazzling artworks on display include examples from Tony Wong, Ma Wing Shin and Lee Chi Ching, legendary pioneers who modernised Hong Kong comics with their action-packed martial arts spectaculars, which have been spun off into hit movies. Also highlighted from mainland China will be veteran Nie Chongrui who has constantly innovated and is being specially invited to London.

Hong Kong's New Wave
Inspired by Danny Yung, Raymond Doe, Chao Yat and other seminal cartoonists, a new wave of satirical and artistic comics creators sprang up during the handover period through to this day. They united around magazines such as Cockroach and Spring Roll to explore fresh ways to use comics to express themselves and deal with questions of freedom, feminism, discrimination and other personal and political issues head on.

China's Next Generation
During the worldwide export of Japanese comics or manga, many younger Chinese artists grew up reading them and have incorporated their styles and techniques, and yet something distinctively Chinese is now emerging, mixing old and new, East and West. Qian Yu's delicate designs update the lavish illustrative traditions from China's past, while Beijing street life is captured in Benjamin's luscious, thoroughly modern youths bathed in digital colours. The exciting discovery of unofficial "underground" groups like Cult Youth and Special Comics in Beijing reflect their country's extraordinary change and represent the bright hopes for the future of cutting-edge manhua as it too spreads around the world.

Information on Key Comic Authors

All of these authors are being specially invited to London for the exhibition:

Key Comic Authors - China

Nie Chongrui: Veteran innovator who began as an animation studio director in 1979 and became Artistic Director of the Peking publisher "Popular Fine Arts". His acclaimed graphic novels include the traditional Chinese tale 'The Merchant's Son" and the period fantasy "Beautiful Woman of the Haunted Temple".

Zhang Xiaoyu: A master of action and fantasy comics, he created his first comics in 1995 while studying fine art. Among more than a dozen graphic novels, he won awards in two national competitions. He currently runs the science fiction magazine Fei and is developing a serial about The Crusades for the French magazine Shonen.

Qian Yu: A young rising star still in her twenties, she began by contributing stunning illustrations to the magazine Cartoon King. Her ongoing series of full-colour graphic novels is in the period crime genre and called 'The Doctor Li Cases".

Benjamin: Since quitting advertising, he has devoted himself to his passion for comics. His almost entirely digital artwork and moody young romances have made him one of China's biggest cult comics authors. He has also written novels and illustrated for movies. A new book of his illustrations and comics, FLASH, will be launched here.

Key Comic Authors – Hong Kong

Craig Yeung: A key multi-media artist and pioneer in experimental, avant garde comics, co-founding the important anthology Cockroach, he has produced some 20 books and is also a comic critic, graphic and interior designer and art direction, radio disc jockey, design critic, travel writer, lifestyle wrtier and a cuisine expert.

Lily Lau: Both sharp and liberal, she introduced feminist and humanist sensitivity to Hong Kong comics in her sarcastic satire on male-dominated society, 'Mom's drawe is at the bottom" in 1998. She gpt her MA in Leeds and is now based mainly in Taiwan.

Chihoi Lee: A subtle, poetic storyteller and leading figure in current comics, he has been published in several European anthologies, as well as releasing his work in local magazines and books. He is in Europe to also attend major festivals in Bologna and Bastia, Corsica.His latest collaboration with Kongkee is Hijacking, which mixes comics with literature.

Hok Tak Teung: Youngest artist invited from Hong Kong, since his international debut in 2000, he has stood out with his digital and hand-drawn graphics contributed to the new anthology Spring Roll. His experimental graphic novel 'How Blue Was My valley", published in France in 2006, mashes together pop art and videogame graphics.

Key Comic Creators – Britain

Yishan Li: A gifted Edinburgh-based illustrator, she contributes the monthly strip CG! to Cosmo Girl and has drawn several graphic novels for the UK, US and French markets. Her latest books include a story set in Edinburgh for Best New Manga Volume 2, the album CutieB for Dargaud and Tales of the Haunted Boudoir for Delcourt., She will be demonstrating the latest Wacom tablet on the opening night and at the Symposium.

Mr Clement: Urban vinyl designer, painter, graphic novelist, Mr Clement has exhibited his AstroLapin character and other figures internationally. Currently at the Royal College of Art, he has been commissioned to create a new comic for the next issue of Art Review.

TH (Tim) Yu: Born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, now based in London as a graphic designer. He has produced a short digital comics under the pen-name "puppetbear", and has been participating projects with a creative collaborative RedSnow Studio which animated the "Fly" music video for a controversial band "Kill Kenada".