Comic Times, claimed to be China's first adult comic magazine, published its third issue late this month but the market seems quite indifferent.
The first two issues of the monthly magazine, targeting readers from 18 to 30 years of age, had sold one third of the total copies, said a bookstall owner at the entry of a subway station in Beijing.
"The sales are mediocre. We are still developing the market," Li Yuping, chief editor of the magazine published in central China's Hunan Province, told Xinhua on telephone. "But we believe there is huge potential."
Wednesday's Beijing Morning Post quoted a bookseller as saying that the magazine was not "adult" at all and that's why it did not sell well.
"Adult comics do not always imply more sex and violence. They are about the lives of grown-ups, such as jobs, relations and marriage which are seldom covered by comic books for teenagers," Li said.
A Japanese TV series Love Stories in Tokyo, which had been hot in China, was adapted from an adult comic series in Japan.
Young Chinese born after the 1970s have been fans of comic books, mostly Japanese comics whose characters usually have big and round eyes.
A survey made by the leading gateway website Netease in late 2003 showed that 44.1 percent of urban youths like reading comic books.
There is a market for adult comics on the Chinese mainland since those born in the 1970s and early 1980s have grown up, found jobs and married, but most of comic books in China are for children and teenagers, Li said.
However, analysts here are not so optimistic as Li. Beijing Morning Post's criticism said readers are not ready to buy a comic magazine though they might like comic books and grown-up comic readers are still much fewer than those of comics for young people.
Some 50,000 copies of the magazine are printed per issue and they are sold in most big and medium-sized cities in the mainland.
"The biggest difficulty we meet is to find good cartoonists," Li said. "Most cartoonists on the mainland are skilled at drawing but unable to write an attractive script."
The magazine signed three popular Taiwan cartoonists whose comic books are bestsellers in China to draw serial comics in every issue, but mainland cartoonists contributed to the most works in the magazine.
The magazine has bought the copyright of a popular online novel Born in 1976 and plans to adapt it to a comic serial but is stilling searching for the right cartoonist.
"We may also put out comics with more sexy content if only they are acceptable for Chinese culture," Li said.
They are trying to buy the copyright of Paradise Lost, not the poem of John Milton but an amateur Japanese novel popular in China, to adapt it to a comic.
(Xinhua News Agency February 28, 2004)