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This Chinese version of the 1929 Erich Maria Remarque classic All Quiet on the Western Front was sold in serial form in Shanghai in 1930. This particular group of All Quiet booklets is collected at Dartmouth’s Rauner Special Collections Library.
All Quiet was an international best-seller that was adapted and translated in many forms. (Design historian Wendy Siuyi Wong writes that this comic is actually based on the 1930 American movie version, rather than the German novel.)
Many countries banned or censored the story for internal political reasons. The Rauner Library’s blog writes that the Chinese government tried to ban the American movie, “because of a perception that its antiwar message would undermine national resistance to Japanese aggression.” The publication of the narrative in this serial form may have been an underground act.
Called lianhuanhua (or “linked serial pictures”), small picture books were a Chinese tradition from the 1920s through the 1990s. The University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Hamilton Library has a website with a database of images from lianhuanhua dating from the ‘50s through the ’80s, as well as a good explanation of the historical roots of the tradition, which can be traced to romantic novels and traditional Chinese New Year’s prints. After World War II, as the site explains, lianhuanhua were increasingly enlisted in the print propaganda efforts of the Communist Party.
As was the case with other lianhuanhua, on these pages, the narrative appears in text separate from the image, rather than being carried forward through speech bubbles and in-frame exposition, as it would be in a more familiar Western comic book.