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 Web 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 连环画 - lianhuanhu or “chain(ed) pictures” or alternatively 小人书 - xiaorenshu or “small people’s books” - and have been a dominant form of comic that was popular in China between the 1910s and 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 streetsides. 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 姜维朴 (1926-) one of the most famous 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 of the pages using the thumbnails at the bottom (the icon toggles the thumbnail display) and viewing minute detail is possible using the integrated OpenSeadragon with mouse or trackpad. Click the button at the top right to see metadata about the comic, and click the button at the top left to see current work on annotation - if you mouse-over the boxes around text areas the transcription will pop-up.