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Words of Advice from Hong Kong's 'King of Comics'

Tony Wong, 45, an acclaimed Hong Kong cartoonist and chief production executive with the Hong Kong Jade Dynasty Group, was pleasantly surprised to see so many young gifted Chinese animators and their works. Wong was on the judging panel of the original animations and comics competition held during the ongoing International Animation and Cartoon Festival in Hangzhou. 

"The pieces are wonderful both in illustration and content," he said.


He added that the mainland has trained a talented pool of animators for the healthy development of the comics and animation industry. 


But, he added, much more needs to be done, "especially in the way of telling the story."


Wong believes that the story is the soul of a piece of work. With a good story, a comic can still grab the undivided attention of the reader even if the illustrations aren't that great. Without a fine script, however, even good illustrations won't prevent it from falling flat on its face; like a star-studded glitzy movie, with no story no one wants to see it.


Wong said that, in addition to a good script, the key to a successful comic is to give the mainstream reader what he or she wants. "Some animators long for recognition as alternative and avant-garde trendsetters. However, fashion is created by the mainstream culture. Abiding by the mainstream enjoys two advantages: one, you have the feeling of satisfaction and will be loved by many fans; two, you'll have enough income to develop your career."


Wong admitted that he is a good example of having made the mainstream work for him. "When I was 20, I drew what people wanted to see and I just followed their ideas. When I became more famous, I started to define my readers' tastes and managed to make them follow me."


"Do not emulate the Japanese, European and American styles blindly," he said. "What you can do instead is to learn from them in terms of illustration and story-telling. And when you master the two techniques, you should create your own Chinese style.


"Root yourself in China and work your way outward."


Currently, Wong is working on an animation film and a 52-episode TV cartoon series.


"We plan to produce two cartoon series every year that will focus on China's traditions and cultures, virtues and environmental protection consciousness."


Wong is Hong Kong's king of comics. He made his cartooning debut in 1971 at the age of 13. He dominated the Hong Kong comics scene writing, illustrating, and published the Jademan line of comics that was hugely popular in the 1980s. Jademan peaked, went public, and died in the stock markets in 1987. In the early 1990s, he founded Jade Dynasty comics. The company now boasts the industry's largest market share, with an annual 13 million-plus publication output worldwide.


(China.org.cn by staff reporter Li Xiao, June 4, 2005)

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