"Attachment theory", "neuroaesthetics", "modern times and pre-modern times"... these "difficult words" are at the same time as "easy pictures" such as "Kitten Relatives" and "Snipe and Clam Dating" by Feng Zikai (1898-1975) Appearing in an academic journal, the "serious and lively" style has become a unique scene in the academic circle - as the first academic journal on comics in China, the first volume of the recently launched "Comics Research" has the theme of "Feng Zikai's Art Research" , a collection of more than 10 Chinese and foreign research papers, analyzes from an academic perspective why this sincere man, who was occupied by four things in his heart: "gods and stars in the sky, art and children on earth", became "the most artistic artist in modern China" .

  As the chief editor of "Comics Research", Tao Ye, a nonpartisan person and professor of Japanese comics and cultural creation at Beijing International Studies University (hereinafter referred to as "II Foreign Languages"), recently accepted an exclusive interview with "China News" to share the story behind the founding of the magazine, and Why do university researchers unite to inject "academic power" into the "second dimension" (what netizens call comics) to provide new nourishment for the current society?

Photo provided by Tao Ye interviewee

  The birth of the first academic journal on comics

  "Science is about analysis, art is about understanding" "Science is about creating rules, and art is about exploring values"... In 1922, Feng Zikai discussed the differences between art and science in his article "The Principles of Art Education".

At that time, this art master would not have imagined that a century later, he would become the subject of "analysis" in the field of humanities and social sciences, with Chinese and foreign scholars "exploring value" from his works and ideas, and providing information for current art and education. nutrient.

  "In China, when it comes to comics, Feng Zikai is an unavoidable name." On February 20, at the Chinese Comics Cultural and Creative Research Institute of BISU, Tao Ye said in an interview with this reporter that although the academic community has no understanding of Chinese comics, The origin and definition of comics have not yet been determined, but since 1925, Shanghai's "Literature Weekly" serialized Feng Zikai's paintings, and Zheng Zhenduo, the editor-in-chief of the magazine, named the column "Zikai Comics", the art form of "cartoons" began to enter the Chinese people's horizons. There is no doubt that Feng Zikai is regarded as "the pioneer of modern Chinese comics".

  2023 is the 125th anniversary of Feng Zikai's birth. The "Comics Research" that was in preparation at the time will feature Feng Zikai as the protagonist of the first issue, and invites relevant researchers from many universities and the comics industry.

After a year of paper collection, double-blind review and other processes, the first volume of the first domestic comics academic journal "Comics Research", which finally included 15 papers and more than 200 pages in total, was published by Capital Normal University Press in a beautifully bound "book" Meet the readers in a form.

  "Feng Zikai is not only a cartoonist, but also a calligrapher, educator, and translator... We sorted it out through several sections to show some of the latest research from different angles." Tao Ye opened the content page of "Comics Research" and said, "For example, The first article, "Intimate Relationships in Feng Zikai's Comics from the Perspective of Attachment Theory," should be read slowly by non-psychology majors; Professor Zhao Hong of Capital Normal University's "Analysis of Feng Zikai's Calligraphy Artistic Style and Its Precocity and Consistency" "Characteristics of Sexuality" is very professional. Frankly speaking, I had a hard time reading it. But even if it is difficult to understand, people can realize through these articles that comics play various functions in society."

Photos provided by interviewees in Volume 1 of "Comics Research"

  The Responsibilities of the First "Cartoon Society"

  There is an ingenious design idea on the inner pages of the first volume of "Comics Research": a page-turning comic is drawn at the page number in the lower right corner. Quickly turn the thick pages, and a "gentleman" with an upturned mustache, a cane and a top hat will appear. Stop and change the action, very funny.

  This cartoon villain is the logo image of the Beijing Cartoon Society, the organizer of "Comics Research".

The society was established in 2021. It is the first non-profit social group in Beijing with the mission of comics research, education, international exchange and dissemination. Tao Ye is the first president.

  The Beijing Cartoon Society, which has been in operation for more than two years, has become a communication platform for many universities and social groups at home and abroad. The newly founded "Comics Research" makes these exchanges more concrete through specific communication channels.

  "After the first volume was published, Feng Yu, the president of the Feng Zikai Research Association, contacted us, hoping to reprint the full text. Huang Tianjun, the president of the Macau Cartoon Practitioners Association, hoped to strengthen exchanges. The descendants of the famous cartoonist Zhang Leping also asked someone to help him buy a copy. "This book." Tao Ye said that "Comics Research" aroused an enthusiastic response after its publication, and some companies came to the door and expressed their willingness to provide financial support.

However, in order to ensure the fairness of his authority, he rejected "capital" and preferred to "lose money and make a profit".

  "I now have a 'conceit' - we represent the level of contemporary Chinese comics research. We have the responsibility to maintain the quality of "Comics Research" at the highest level." Tao Ye said, "When we look back at the status of modern Chinese comics ten years later development, "Comics Research" will definitely leave its mark."

The "Review of Research on Feng Zikai in Japan" included in the first volume of "Comics Research" details the current research status of Feng Zikai in Japanese academic circles.

The authors of the paper are Sun Jinlei, a young teacher at BISU and secretary-general of the Beijing Cartoon Society, and Sugata Yohei, associate professor at BISU.

Photo provided by interviewee

  What was "Comic Con" like in the 1980s?

  Tao Ye's relationship with comics dates back to the 1970s and 1980s. When he was a junior high school student in Inner Mongolia, he submitted two cartoons to the Hohhot Evening News and they were successfully published.

Since then, his cartoons have appeared in newspapers from time to time, and were appreciated by Wang Fuyang, the then director of the art photography department of the Beijing Evening News and a famous cartoonist.

  In 1986, Tao Ye was admitted to the Second Foreign Language School, majoring in Japanese in the Department of Asian and African Languages.

At that time, the domestic cartoon industry was experiencing a wave of craze. The cartoon group of the Beijing Working People's Cultural Palace held a weekly "Cartoon Exhibition" - a circle of wire was pulled up on the spot, and there were many small clips on the wire. Comic lovers clamped their works on the Above, everyone was spinning around, admiring, and giving each other feedback.

Every Tuesday, Tao Ye would ride an old bicycle from school to attend activities at the Cultural Palace on the east side of Tiananmen Square.

Well-known cartoonists who work for newspapers often appear at the event, such as Wang Fuyang from the Beijing Evening News and He Wei from the Workers' Daily. They take down the paintings they like and take them away.

"Everyone is looking forward to having their paintings taken away. They will be reported in the newspaper a week or two after they are taken away, and there will be royalties of 5 yuan and 10 yuan."

  More than 30 years later, comics are still loved by young people, but the single-frame comics that cultivated their preference seem to have "fallen out of fashion."

Will this art form, which uses simple pictures with a few strokes to show the current situation of society, express personal opinions and convey social values, be eliminated by the times?

Tao Ye's answer is no.

  In his view, comics can add happiness to people's lives and also serve as an effective warning.

Especially now that social media is developed, single-frame cartoons still have great potential in terms of science dissemination, cultural inheritance, publicity and education.

In the field of cultural exchanges, comics have become an excellent vehicle for telling Chinese stories to the outside world by virtue of their natural advantage of transcending language barriers.

  How does "Japanese + Comics Culture and Creation" cultivate talents?

  "We hope that more people will realize the social functions of comics, such as disseminating information and inheriting culture, and one of the core points is to first have a correct understanding and evaluation of comics." To this end, Tao Ye brings comics to colleges and universities. The classroom allows young people to understand and create comics, and to expand their thinking by mastering this visual art of "a picture is worth a thousand words".

  In 1996, Tao Ye went to Japan to study and became the first doctor of comics in Japanese history.

In 2019, he returned to his alma mater, Second Foreign Language School, and presided over the establishment of the country's first "Japanese Comics and Cultural Creation" major.

With colleges and universities actively exploring the direction of "new liberal arts" discipline transformation, Tao Ye's attempts have achieved obvious results - in the past two years, the "Japanese Comics and Cultural Creation" major has become very popular in recruiting students.

The employment feedback from the first batch of graduates also makes him very optimistic about the prospects of this major.

  In class, Tao Ye teaches students painting techniques and creative design.

In addition, students must take art professional assessments such as the Chinese Calligraphy and Painting Grade Test (CCPT).

However, its goal is not to train "foreign language students" into "art students", but to cultivate students' observation, reasoning, induction, expression and other abilities through multi-dimensional training.

Tao Ye believes, "Becoming a creative person will make you more comfortable in many fields." (End) (Reported by "China News" reporter Cheng Xiaolu)