Posted by Joel Martinsen on Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 6:10 PM
Rock star Zheng Jun has come out with a graphic novel, Tibetan Rock Dog, that combines his three loves: cartoons, animals, and music.
The story unfolds in Tibet, where a Tibetan mastiff named Metal grows up in a Buddhist temple after his parents and siblings die protecting a peasant family. His grandfather, who learned the secrets of walking upright and speaking human language, trains him in canine meditation and teaches him about his ancient enemy, the Tibetan wolf. A rock musician on a pilgrimage adopts Metal as a son and takes him back to Beijing.
The city is a fabulous new world for Metal: in Beijing, dogs walk upright and have a secret underground realm of their own. He forms a rock band with the friends he meets at obedience school:
But the big city isn't a paradise: his girlfriend's father doesn't approve of Metal, and when his band, Rockdog, hits it big, he runs afoul of a gang of hip-hop wolf hounds who resent his success. Will he be able to prove that rock music is a worthy pursuit for a dog? Can he save his girlfriend from the clutches of the evil rap artists? Will success come in time to pay for his master's hospital bill and save his club?
Tibetanized Chinese on the cover of Tibetan Rock Dog
The answers to these questions will come as no surprise, but setting the story in a hidden canine empire is inspired, the art is full of puns and pop-culture references, and the extended fight sequence that takes up half of the second volume is fairly entertaining.
Zheng Jun, who's credited with the characters and overall supervision of Tibetan Rock Dog, has revealed that a film version is in the works — something like Kung Fu Panda (not a knock-off, since he came up with Metal and friends four years ago). He might also come out with a prequel or a sequel to the graphic novel.
The current story fills 340 pages split between two volumes and was written for kids of all ages, as Zheng explains in the preface:
And it's a language that crosses national boundaries. From an interview with QQ:
This is not the first nod toward Tibet in Zheng's work. One of his famous early songs was "Return to Lhasa" (回到拉萨).
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