Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 62

58 Populär Culture Review in the dailies in 1913 and became established in 1916.16 It was one of the few comic Strips that enjoyed worldwide reputation. As late as 1924, Ye had seen this Strip in his school library in Hangzhou (Ye, 1992, p. 86). The Strip centered around the story o f a henpecked Irish American, Jiggs, a former mason, and his wife Maggie, an ex-washerwoman. The couple achieved sudden wealth by winning the Irish Sweepstakes. While the snobbish wife and their fashionmonger daughter constantly try to “bring up” the husband to his new social position, Jiggs would only want to meet his old buddies at Dinty Moore’s tavem for a dish of comed beef and cabbage. Most of the Strip’s hilarious events derive from this basic Situation (Horn, 1999: 154). When Ye Qianyu first took the job, he was initially thinking about naming his Strip as Shanghai ren (Shanghainese), but another cartoonist Wang Dunqing thought that it was too narrow and inauspicious because it had already been used in their failed earlier attempt of Shanghai manhua}1 Wang suggested changing the title to a more general and flexible name “Mr. Wang,” the most common sumame in China. He also helped Ye design the physical appearance of the main characters. Mr. Wang was a skinny man with a pointed nose and moustache, looking like a rural moneybags who had been living in Shanghai for a long time. He had a tubby wife and a fashionmonger daughter. His friend Xiao Chen was a rieh heir having a shrewish wife. Each of the five main characters had a distinctive personality and interacted with each other in delicate manners. The comedies would be generated by the complex relationships between these five characters. The first Mr. Wang episode [see Figure 1] appeared in the first issue of Shanghai Sketch (April 21, 1928) and was a story about how Mr. Wang dealt with his newly graduated daughter’s request for a music Studio. The episode had six panels, which occupied two third of the whole octavo page, with advertisements undemeath. Drawn in simple and smooth lines— presumably by pen instead of traditional writing brush—and then colored in the process o f printing. The graphic style of the Strip showed a different aesthetic from early Chinese Cartoons, which used traditional writing brush and offen heavy colors. Using word balloons, Ye gave his characters distinctive voices, and one could imagine that they were actually speaking in a Shanghai dialect as indicated in certain dialectical words that occurred in their speech. Ye also used sound effect Symbols to indicate what had been previously unseen in visual art, such as music and emotions. The setting of the story—sofa, desk, armchair, piano, and Westem-style door—instantly delivered an unmistakably Westemized modern life style. Although Mr. Wang and his wife were still dressing in Chinese style robes, their daughter and the pianist the next door were dressing in reformed short qipao and Western suit respectively. These symbols of new values—dwelling, clothing, luxury goods like piano, and the idea of having a music Studio at