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).
Links and Sources
Jobs in China
Henry on The Eurasian Face
Caroline W on Big in China
Michael on Julia Lovell on translating Lu Xun's complete fiction: "His is an angry, searing vision of China"
Brandon K. on Clueless academic takes on popular fantasy novels
China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
Books on China
The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Korean history doesn't fly on Chinese TV screens (2007.09): SARFT puts the kibbosh on Korean historical dramas.
+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.