serial picture books

serial picture books
Commonly called comic books, lianhuanhua are more accurately translated as ‘serial picture books’ because they adapt stories from other genres. The form is to be distinguished from both manhua (cartoons) and lianhuan manhua (serial cartoons or comic books) that are original works and descend from the Japanese manga tradition. The form is also to be distinguished from tuhuashu (picture books) for very young children. Lianhuanhua popularize favourite stories as part of China’s visual mass media.
Modern lianhuanhua have a dual audience. They originated as children’s literature early in the twentieth century. They are still considered a commercial staple of this field across Chinese-speaking countries where they are colloquially known as shaorenshu (children’s books). But they are also considered mass literature, especially in the PRC. The form is accessible (told through images), cheap (mass-produced in small booklets), and visual, critiqued as a revolutionary art form and the subject of national awards and regional exhibitions. The popularity of this form made lianhuanhua a perfect medium for political propaganda among China’s masses. Banned in the Cultural Revolution, lianhuanhua made a comeback in the contemporary period where whole shops and stalls sell old and new favourites. In the contemporary period, however, lianhuanhua are being superseded by technological visual forms of mass communication such as television, film, the Internet and the VCD/DVD.
See also: animation
Andrews, Julia F.
(1997). ‘Literature in Line: Picture Stories in the People’s Republic of China’. Inks: Cartoon and Comic Art Studies 4.3 (November): 17–32.
Farquhar, Mary Ann (1999). ‘Picture Books and Popularization’. In Mary Ann Farquhar (ed.), Children’s Literature in China. New York: M.E. Sharpe.
Lent, John and Ying, Xu (2003). ‘Chinese Women Cartoonists: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives’. International Journal of Comic Art 5.2: 351–366.
——(2003). ‘Timeless Humor: Liao Bingxiong and Fang Cheng, Masters of A Fading Chinese Cartoon Tradition’. Persimmon 3.3 (Winter). Available at
Shen, Kuiyi (1997). ‘Comics, Picture Books, and Cartoonists in Republican China’. Inks: Cartoon and Comic Art Studies 4.3 (November): 2–16. [Katong zhi chuang, Shanghai]

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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