Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 66

62 Populär Culture Review As for his dull friend, Xiao Chen, a young master of a rieh family in Shanghai, he is a weak person trapped in unhappy marriage, but “although he has yielded to the unfeeling family, his heart is bubbled up with warm blood pursuing love.” On these two characters, Ye (1930, p. 3) remarked, “‘fate’ plays its extreme power to stage grotesque comedies. I know that deep in their heart they feel sorrow and bittemess, but they are generous and don’t feel weary . . . They will be forevermore trapped to the wheel of fate and perform lots of comedies!” The rather sympathetic tone toward the imperfect life of Shanghai urbanites showed the ambiguity and complexity of the artist’s attitude toward his creation. As Episode 40 and the Statement pronounce, the recognizable human traits and human foibles displayed in Mr. Wang are actually something that everyone could identify with, or at least understand, to a certain extent. Ye even went as far as claiming that, “Mr. Wang is me; I am Mr. Wang” (Ye, 1992, p. 29). Because Ye’s ability of characterizing petty urbanites in graphic narrative, Mr. Wang became “a character type, a true comic Strip hero, the first and one of the most original of this kind in China” (Shen, 2001, p. 113). Conclusion On the one hand, new technologies and modes of communication first appeared in Shanghai, the most important treaty port since the last several decades of the nineteenth Century, and therefore brought in massive production and craft de-skilling, which partly contributed to the decline of traditional literati painting and the rise of commercial art and populär culture. On the other hand, the flourishing of commercial life in Shanghai stimulated the growth of urban leisure culture, which provides demand, inspiration, and the market for consumption of new inventions of artistic expression. This paper briefly analyzes the institutional dimension and individual effort in promoting manhua as an established art in Shanghai i