M and Mx Interview with the China Daily Cartoonist: LuoJie

luojie06 M and Mx Interview with the China Daily Cartoonist: LuoJieWe sat down with LuoJie over e-mail a while back and talked about what some people might not understand:  Chinese Political Cartoons.  LuoJie recently started selling his comics on Daryl Cagle’s Professional Cartoonists Index.  Of course living in China and reading China Daily I had already heard of LuoJie (English name: William) a long time ago.  I was pleased to see that he was getting more and more press around the world.  His clean art and humorous style makes him on par with any Western political cartoonist today.

We asked him 11 questions:

1.  Where are you from in China?  请问您是哪里人?

我是南京人。 I’m from NanJing.

2.  How did you get this job at China Daily?   您是怎么找到中国日报这份工作的?  

当时任中国日报社的美术部主任的张耀宁先生在网上看到我的漫画后,认为我非常适合政治漫画创作,所以经他撮合,我加入了中国日报,专职画政治漫画。
The former director of Art Department of China Daily, Mr. Zhang Yao Ning read some of my comics online and he thought that I would be a perfect fit to start drawing political cartoons for the paper. That is how I came to the China Daily and I became a professional political cartoonist!

3.  Do you do other cartoons or only political cartoons?  Why Political cartoons? 您除了画政治漫画之外,还画其他主题的漫画吗?为什么选择政治漫画?

除了画政治漫画以外,我偶而也给出版物画一些插图,我有一个四格连环漫画系列,叫“一只愤世嫉俗的鸡”,在我的博客里有:blog.sina.com.cn/luowill。算是不属于政治漫画,不过由于职业习惯,我的四格多少会跟时事挂上点勾。
为什么选择政治漫画,是因为天生很喜欢老外画的政治漫画:智慧、幽默、夸张
讽刺,让我有一种模仿的冲动,我总是期望我能画出跟美国政治漫画家们一样水平的漫画。
Besides political cartoons, I also draw some illustrations for some publications. I have a comic (4 frame cartoon series*) on my blog : bog.sina.com.cn/luowill, named “Cynical Chicken”. I guess I wouldn’t say that “Cynical Chicken” could be considered a political cartoon, but since I enjoy politics then my 4 frame cartoon series actually is connected to some of the current issues of the day.
Why did I choose political cartooning?  I guess the reason I chose political cartooning is because I really enjoy foreigners’ political cartoons.  They seem full of wisdom, really very humorous, often exaggerated, and ironic. When I saw those kind of cartoons I just wanted to learn from them and imitate them and I hope that one day I will be able to draw as good as those American political cartoonists!

*4 frame cartoon series- this is the literal translation.  Mx told me that usually in China, comics come in a series of 4 frames, either in a row or 4 frames creating a square.  I asked, “All comics in China are 4 frames?”  She said, “Not all but nowadays the 4 frame comic series is pretty popular.”  I then used my American “buck the system” attitude, “What if there just three frames?”  She then went on to tell me about how in China balance and harmony are important and 4 frames, 2 on top and 2 on the bottom, are balanced well and work well.

4.  You said that your boss saw your work online, how?  When was that?  What did you use (website, personal blog) so that he could see your work?  Do you still use a personal blog? 你说你的老板在网上看到你的卡通,那是什么时候? 你是不是用个人网站或者博客的方式来让大家看到您的作品?您现在还用个人博客吗?


那大概是2002年时候。那个时候个人网站不太多,博客好像还没出现,我是把我的作品放在了一个漫画网站上的(我朋友开的)。
我的博客有两个,一个是新浪的:blog.sina.com.cn/luowill。一个是腾迅的:http://user.qzone.qq.com/404991
My boss saw my work back in 2002 and at that time there were very few people using personal websites in China.  Come to think of it, I don’t think there were even blogs back then!  I put my work on one website which was started by a friend of mine. Now I operate 2 blogs, one is a SINA blog blog.sina.com.cn/luowill and the other is QQ http://user.qzone.qq.com/404991

5.  Who are your  major western influences?  2 major Chinese influences?  哪位西方人对你的影响最大? 哪位中国人对你的影响最大?

影响最大具体到某人是很难说的,只能说是文化影响了,中国现代的年青人一般都受到美式文化与中国传统文化的双重影响。
说影响不如说喜好吧,比如政治家来说,像美国,奥巴马就是我很喜欢的,在中国,周恩来总理是我所喜欢的。
就漫画家来说,对我影响最大的就是以下几位:Macnelly,Jeff Parker,Steve Breen,Steve Sack,Michael Ramirez
Oh, wow, it’s pretty hard to give you a specific person who has influenced me but I can tell you which culture influenced me most.  For most young Chinese I think American culture and Chinese traditional culture are two major influences.  In terms of influence though, I can also say which politician I like most.  Like in America I like Obama and in China I’ve always liked Premier Zhou Enlai.  For political cartoonists, I guess the ones who have had the most influence on me is as follows: Macnelly, Jeff Parker, Steve Breen, Steve Sack and Michael Ramirez to name a few.

6.  What is your opinion of cartooning in China?  Past and present and future.  (is it a good business, is it just a hobby, is there a future?)
你对中国卡通的看法是什么呢? 过时了, 现代, 未来的。有没有很好的市场呢? 或者仅仅是个人的爱好?漫画在中前途吗?
在中国卡通分几种,1是传统漫画,包括讽刺漫画,市场有,但不规范,不注重版权,不景气,从业人员少,大都是业余美术爱好者,光靠画讽刺漫画能生活的人极少极少。
2是现代漫画,我们叫动漫,是给青少年看的,比如日韩类,美国动画大片类的,中国青少年很喜欢。中国政府好像在投资搞动漫产业,做国产漫画大片,进程不太清楚,希望能好。
我觉得整体来说市场是有的,不过要加强规范,加强版权保护,提高从业人员收入,有前途的。In China you can divide cartoons into a couple different catergories: First is the traditional cartoons.  These use satire and irony.  There is a market for these kind of cartoons but highly irregular and nobody takes the copyright seriously.  On top of that, those kind of cartoons are not so popular right now plus there are few people who do those kind of cartoons, just a few amateurs and people who do it as a hobby.  There are very few people who rely on only this kind of cartoon for a living in China.  The second kind of cartoons in China is what I call the “modern cartoon” or “animated cartoons”.  Kids all over China love these animated cartoons whether they are from Korea or Japan.  They also love the big animated movies from America too.  All Chinese kids just love those!  The Chinese government has recently invested a lot into our domestic animation industry here in China.  Soon we’ll see animated movies that are made in China!  At this point I’m not sure how the investment and development is going but we have high hopes for it!  I guess in end there is a market in China for cartoons and comics but there needs to be more effort in some of the rules, protection of copyrights, we’d also like to see the income of these cartoonists go up but all in all the prospects are looking good! 

7.  Do you encourage young people in China to work hard in their art and cartooning? 你是不是鼓励中国在艺术方面有天赋的年轻人向艺术方面发展?

当然鼓励。中国有才华的人很多,只是缺少平台展示。

Of course I encourage the young people in China!  We Chinese are a very artistically talented bunch!  The only thing that is lacking is the proper platform to be able to showcase our talents!

8.  Webcomics (comics only on the web, making money through printing books and other things) are pretty popular in the U.S.  Do you think that could be popular in China?
网上漫画(自己出书销售)在美国很流行,你觉得在中国怎么样,一样流行吗?
中国网上漫画一样很火,也有从网上火到出书赚钱的。
Yeah, in China Webcomics are also pretty popular and yes there are some who do Webcomics and then publish books and make money.
9.  Do Chinese people like comics?  你觉得中国人喜欢漫画吗?
中国人喜欢漫画,不过中国人不喜欢被讽刺,哈哈,中国人爱面子。说别人可以,说自己有点难度,哈哈。

Yes, Chinese people do like comics.  But, Chinese don’t like to be mocked.  HA HA Chinese people love “face”(Chinese people are proud of their reputation).  If you want to talk about other countries or other Chinese people that’s ok, but if you want to mock and make fun of yourself, Chinese don’t like that.  HA HA.

10.  Can you introduce to our readers some other modern cartoonists in China that you like? 你是否可以给我们的读者介绍你所喜欢的中国现代漫画家?

说实话,我对中国大际现代漫画家还真不太了解,我想 猫小乐应该算一个,我喜欢的还有 黑贝,像中国台湾的river,彭永成,朱德庸,蔡志忠都很喜欢
I have to tell you the truth, I’m not very familiar with many modern Chinese mainland cartoonists.  I mean, I guess one could be Mao XiaoLe.  I also enjoy HeiBei, similar to Taiwan’s “River”.  Peng YongCheng is another one.  Zhu DeYong is also one.  Cai ZhiZhong is a famous cartoonist from Taiwan who retells old Chinese classics.  All those I really enjoy.

11.  How do you get your ideas for your cartoons? 你画漫画的灵感是从哪里来的?

嗯……怎么说呢,可能我看的美国政治漫画比较多,看多了就自然而然地形成了一些固定的“创意库”,还有就是喜剧电影动画片什么的。

Oh… how can I say this… I always look at lots of American politcal cartoons.  After looking at a bunch of these comics then automatically in my head there forms this storehouse of creativity!  I also use comedies and animated movies for inspiration.

For more of LuoJie’s (William Luo) political cartoons please go to Daryl Cagle’s site or China Daily.

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