Zhao Hongben (1915-2000) 赵宏本
comic, comic strip
scan, paper, black-and-white; original source: woodblock print
SWKSDBGJ 1962: Sun Wukong san da baigujing 孙悟空三打白骨精 (Sun Wukong thrice defeats the white-boned demon). Shanghai: Shanghai meishu, 1962:108.
Sun Wukong, Mao Zedong, Journey to the West, Cultural Revolution, criticism, Three Prominences, hero, heroism, depiction, iconography, comic
Zhao Hongben: Sun Wukong thrice defeats the white-boned Demon 1962 (Zhao Hongben: Sun Wukong san da baigujing 赵宏本: 孙悟空三打白骨精)
During the Cultural Revolution, the primary aim of comic art—to be understood easily and readily—became political necessity. Comics published during the second half of the Cultural Revolution, therefore accord very strictly with the demands of the Three Prominences. Zhao Hongben’s 1962 comic, on the other hand, could not stand up to that scrutiny. First, the demon, in all its different incarnations representative of, in Cultural Revolution terms, “the black line,” (i.e. the capitalist and revisionist road), is depicted as much too beautiful a sight (see ill. 6.7c). Although viewed from above, which is typical of negative characters, she appears in central positions and in clear focus in some of the images: this could mislead the reader to think of her as more important than she is.
And what about Zhao’s hero? Sun Wukong (understood to be the stand-in for Mao Zedong and therefore under extremely close orders) is even shown to humiliate himself by begging forgiveness from his master, Tang Seng, who, in the original novel, is by no means a hero. In a scene depicted in the 1962 version of the comic, Monkey is shown from the side, crouching, overshadowed by the other protagonists, who are, indeed less than his equals, but not visually. He is not a typical comic hero, but something less to be sure.