Internet fuels Chinese comics industry

By Jiang Yijing | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-18 07:58

Internet fuels Chinese comics industry

Chinese comics artists create comic strips with colorful topics, from Taoism, to fox-demon fantasy. The above is Huyao Xiao Hongniang by Tuo Xiaoxin[Photo provided to China Daily]

The internet is fueling new ways of looking at the Chinese comics industry. Jiang Yijing reports.

Chinese comics artist Bai Xiao used to wonder how his Japanese counterparts could churn out their creations on a weekly basis, when he could do so only once a month in magazines.

That was before he turned online. Now, Bai is equally prolific. He publishes his story Shikong Shitu (Bloodivores) on the online comics platform of internet giant Tencent twice a week and he has completed more than 200 chapters so far.

"The internet has changed Chinese comics profoundly," says Bai, 35, who's based in Beijing.

Bai started to draw comics in 2001, when magazines were the main platform for the genre. He published several stories in magazines such as Comic Artists, China Cartoon, and Comic Fans, one of the most influential comic magazines in China.

He switched to online comics less than two years ago. Shikong Shitu, a science fiction story, depicts a world full of conflicts caused by new technologies. A group of bloodsucking characters, the products of medical side effects, forms a major part of the storyline.

On Oct 1, 2016, a Japanese cartoon version of Shikong Shitu began to play on Japanese TV station Tokyo MX, a day after the Chinese version rolled out online.

"I used to admire those who could offer stories that ran for as long as they wished in a month," says Bai. "Due to the limited number of pages in magazines, I was only allowed to publish no more than 40 pages per month. I could not finish the opening parts of a story even in a whole year. Sometimes I had to delete plots to fit everything in and the stories would not be perfect or complete."

Bai now produces about 100 pages of online stories a week, a number he says he could not have imagined a decade ago.

He has the space to give his creativity and storytelling skills full play.

To satisfy the demand from his readers for "good stories", Bai set up a studio last year that hired assistants to help with the artwork.

"A studio is a more stable, creative group. I believe with the market becoming more mature, the number of comics studios in China will increase," says Bai.

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