A Completely Different Kind of Graphic Novel

January 26th, 2012

Many years ago in the Song Dynasty in China, there was a painter we know as Zhang Zeduan. He painted a massive scroll that depicted the life of a town, the Qingming Shanghe Tu, (清明上河图) “Along the River During the Qing Ming Festival.” For all intents and purposes, this scroll, painted during the 12th century, is a graphic novel, done in pantomime. There are no word balloons, no action lines, but it clearly shows the life of a town during a busy day. The original is the Palace Museum in Beijing.

Last year during the Singapore Expo, a massive transmedia program was designed to bring this painting to life. It’s…extraordinary. The water flows around rocks in the ground, people wander through town, meet, speak and part…a child runs after a pig, a woman rocks her infant. The very famous camel caravan wanders through town, passing under a gate. As a work of art, this has always been a striking piece – animated, I fell for it all over again.

For your entertainment – and some perspective on the concept of a Graphic Novel – please enjoy Zhang Zeduan’s Qingming Shanghe Tu.

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6 Responses

  1. Jenny says:

    Two years in the making! Can you imagine how fabulous it would have been to have been part of that project? And to see all the people coming to see it? And it’s beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  2. @Jenny- You’re most welcome. ^_^

  3. Ali says:

    Erica, that was incredible! Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. @Ali – I’m so thrilled you enjoyed it.

  5. Eric P. says:

    As close to ‘living paintings’ similar to from the Harry Potter universe as we’re ever going to get. That really was amazing to watch.

  6. @Eric P – As close as we come “right now.” I bet we get closer and closer as time passes.

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