Chinese Comic Collection


This digital collection offers page-by-page access to more than 1000 Chinese comics - a form of publication which first appeared in the early 20th century. It focuses on material from the second half of the Cultural Revolution and immediately thereafter. Examples from the Collection of Chinese Comics at Christian-Albrechts-Universität in Kiel, the private collection of Professor Catherine Vance Yeh of Boston University, and the extensive holdings of Andreas Seifert make up this remarkable corpus, which can be searched by individual contributors as well as provenance. Individuals' roles - such as proof-readers, calligraphers and cover and concept designers are defined, as well as writers, artists and editors, and these are accessible via both Chinese and Pinyin names. More than 2500 unique agents and almost 100 publishers are currently identified, as are edition sizes and distribution. The Mirador IIIF-based viewer is integrated with the collection, both for delivery of high resolution page impressions and to support research using Open Annotation Data Model standards.


Chinese comics were produced in the form of small rectangular pocket-books (ca. 13 x 9 cm), generally with pictures at the top of the page and a short narrative underneath. They are called lianhuanhua - or “chain(ed) pictures” - or alternatively, “small people’s books” - xiaorenshu - and have been one dominant form of comic popular in China from the 1910s until the late 1980s. They were available cheaply, in the more remote areas of China as well as in urban areas: at barbers' shops, on trains, at hospitals and on street-sides. Consequently, they might be considered one of the most popular art forms of the time: they have been credited with “planting the seeds for ideals and knowledge in the hearts and souls” of China’s youngsters, according to Jiang Weipu (1926-), one of the most famous comic artists and chroniclers of comic art in China.


Access to this collection is currently restricted to the research community - please contact Matthias Arnold at the Heidelberg Center for Transcultural Studies for further information. An example IIIF and Mirador-2.2.2 presentation of one of the comics is available: 中華人民共和國懲治反革命條例 (Zhonghua renmin gongheguo chengzhi fan geming tiaoli). It allows browsing page-by-page and by the thumbnails at the bottom (the three dots turn off the thumbnail display) and detail viewing is possible using the mouse or trackpad to zoom. Click the 'i' button at the top right to see metadata about the notebook, and click the 'bubble' button at the top left to see the annotations - if you mouse-over the boxes around text areas the transcription will pop-up.

University of Westminaster Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies Europa Institute Institut d'Asie Orientale Princeton University