Updated: Jul 14, 2020
As part of this month's special we are offering 20% off when you purchase any volume in the series Understanding China Through Comics. Use promo code UCTC at checkout at Aerio to receive the discount. Enter the store here.
Jing Liu is from Beijing, China, and began his professional life as an industrial designer and engineer. But in recent years he has adapted the precise presentation skills required by that career into a new life as a visual artist. And his latest project – which has occupied his time over the past few years – is to tell the story of China from its ancient days to the present.
So far, Jing has published four of these volumes through Stone Bridge Press. Under the series name Understanding China through Comics, they cover a span of some 4,500 years, from 2697 BCE (the age of the Yellow Emperor) to 1912 in the 20th century. A fifth volume is planned that will take the series up to 1949 and the establishment of the People’s Republic.
Stone Bridge was not the first publisher of this series. It began as a privately published work that did pretty well on Amazon. A Stone Bridge employee spotted it several years ago, and we contacted the author to ask if we could take it over. Jing agreed, and he has been a dream to work with. It’s been interesting to me to watch his style continue to sharpen with each volume.
I can imagine how difficult it is to figure out what to include and what to leave out. We are talking many thousands of years. I suppose some of the things an artist chooses are those he likes, while others he feels obligated to put in because, well, you can’t exactly leave out the Great Wall or Confucius no matter what else you decide to omit.
Looking at China’s history from the perspective of an American whose nation is only 250 years old is instructive. As much as we Americans take every event to be game-changing and pivotal, we only have to contemplate how many such events have taken place in China over the centuries to realize our shortsightedness. The Chinese world view is necessarily broader, and perhaps more patient-alert to opportunity but mindful that nothing is permanent, least of all human institutions. Perhaps the lesson is to deal with the moment at hand but don’t get too attached to it. I can’t say whether this stems more from the Asian Buddhist tradition or just many centuries of the Chinese watching the solid turn to sand and slip through their fingers time and again.
I spoke to Jing the other day about his book, his method, and his art, and his view of history. Our this conversation is part of our new video series introducing Stone Bridge Press.
-Peter Goodman, Publisher.