I remember writing an article some years back titled “OEL Manga, Manhwa And Manhua” in which I discussed forms of manga from the English-speaking world, Korean language and the Chinese languages. Recently, I saw an article which noted that a Taiwanese manhua artist called Gao Yan had been noticed and praised by the Japanese industry. Seeing this, I thought it might be interesting to take a particular look at Taiwanese manhua and the situation it’s in.
To start with, let’s take a look at the history of Taiwanese manhua. There is some debate as to when manhua began in Taiwan but one of the earliest known examples comes from 1935 when an artist named Ji Long-sheng released a comic strip that took a satirical look at society in Taiwan while under the control of Japan. Manga would go on to have quite an effect on the development of Taiwanese manhua as manga remained popular even after the Japanese left.
The Taiwanese manhua industry struggled to develop as the Kuomintang government led by Chiang Kai-shek imposed heavy censorship by requiring all Taiwanese manhua to be screened and approved by the government. While this has since been lifted when Taiwan went through democratisation, what this has resulted in is a relatively underdeveloped market where Japanese manga remains very popular and Taiwanese manhua has struggled to compete even within Taiwan itself.
A lot of this comes down to perception such as the belief that Taiwanese manhua artwork is more ugly than manga or, if trying to imitate manga, is subpar and that the story and characters are much more basic and uninteresting. Much of this comes down to the fact that the market and their talent pool is underdeveloped after the heavy-handedness of the government during its one-party system.
It also doesn’t help that the pay for Taiwanese manhua artists is poor. For example, Chun Yun-de, a winner of the Golden Comic Award which is organised by the Ministry of Culture (Taiwan), ended up making a paltry NT$20,000 a month (equivalent to $643 in 2022) to produce Taiwanese manhua. This, along with an overly controlling editor, caused Chun Yun-de to turn to producing web comics for Webtoons instead.
This is a shame as it’s clear that there is talent in Taiwan but the market there remains problematic as it’s hard for these artists to make a living. While the government is attempting to support these talents with new initiatives, it’s clear that plenty of these artists are going to continue to face an uphill battle. Let me know your thoughts on the interesting situation of Taiwanese manhua, whether you’ve ever read any, if you liked or disliked them, what you think about the history of the manhua/manga market in Taiwan and any additional information you might have on the topic.
Hopefully you have found this article interesting and informative and, if you wish to seek any of the works I mentioned, don’t hesitate to use amazon.co.uk and amazon.com for all of your needs!