Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 58

54 Populär Culture Review comic Strip in the context of Shanghai modern (to borrow Leo Ou-fan Lee’s term), I will elaborate on how the Westem-influenced visual forms were localized in manhua, which was shaped and, at the same time, was shaping the modern sensibility of urbanites in metropolitan Shanghai. Together with a wide variety of cultural manifestations of mass-produced, mass-mediated, and mass-consumed modemity, such as motion pictures, photography, fashion, modern architecture, interior decoration, advertising, etc., manhua played a significant role in constructing a modern urban identity through comic narrative. The appearance of “Mr. Wang” marked the point at which manhua had fully grown into an effective graphic narrative tool of social humor and matured as an independent genre of Chinese art. The C artoon Society and Shanghai Sketch The institutionalized position of manhua was signified by the establishment of China’s first cartoonist society, Manhua hui (the Cartoon Society), in Shanghai about 1926 or 1927.3 The Cartoon Society, as John Lent (1994, p. 286) puts it, was “an important rallying force for the profession, providing an esprit de corps and establishing a Standard name (imanhua) for their craft, even though other names (especially katun [sic]) were used well into the late 1930s.” Most of the members in the society were commercial artists who had no academic training in art but shared a common interest in integrating art into Contemporary social life. They were less confined to Chinese art conventions but open to new expressions of urban life in Shanghai. By organizing the Cartoon Society, they tried to promote the neologism and new form of manhua as a resistance to the orthodox art forms in China (Bi and Huang, 1986, p. 85). The society organized Seminars to discuss the social functions and techniques of manhua, introduce foreign comic works, and to exchange artistic ideas between members. At least three collections of works of members— Huang Wennong’s (7-1934) Wennong fengci huaji and Chu yi zhi huaji, and Lu Shaofei’s (1903-) Beiyou manhua—were published by the society in 1927 and 1928.4 But their most influential effort of cultivating the field was the publication of Shanghai Sketch, a weekly pictorial o f “photography and comics” (sheying manhua zhoubao),5 under the name Zhongguo meishu kanxing she (The Publishing House o f Chinese Fine Arts). As Bi and Huang label it, Shanghai Sketch started out as a veritable “tongren kanwu” (1986, p. 88), which we may define as a joumal published by “a group o f friends, associates or otherwise kindred spirits.”6 According to Ye Qianyu’s (1907-1995) memoir, the manager and editor-in-chief of the joumal was Zhang Guangyu (1900-1964). The vice manager and business director was Zhang’s brother Zhang Zhengyu (1904-1976). And the editor of the comic page was Ye Qianyu (see Ye, 1992, p. 26). Because photography