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Huang Xinbo's World of Caricature

The majority of Huang Xinbo’s caricatures were produced in the period when he was with Human Art Club. At that time, Hong Kong comics developed rapidly as a succession of comic-related publications launched. Comic strips also began to be published regularly in newspapers, making comics an inseparable part of people’s daily life. Under this wave of interest, the members of Human Art Club promoted comics enthusiastically, through setting up a comic research group, organising exhibitions, and launching publications such as Comics Against Aid to Japan and This is the Age of Comics. Huang strongly supported the production of comics, and participated frequently in those related activities. Most notable of which was the well-received “The Stormy China” comic exhibition, co-organised by Huang, Zhang Guangyu, Chen Yutian, Liao Bingxiong and Liang Yongtai.

Huang Xinbo mainly produced political caricatures, a type of comic which displays the author’s critical response to current affairs. Political caricatures could easily stir up public discussion, as they usually touched on political and social woes, and were mainly published in newspapers. Studies have revealed that although the political environment in post-war Hong Kong was relatively stable, the society was very much shaken by the civil war and political struggles within China. Furthermore, the livelihood of Hong Kong people was affected by acute shortage of social resources and facilities. As a journalist at Chinese Business Daily, Huang had a strong sense of social responsibility. Through caricatures, he analysed the current situation and revealed inequities in society. These works served not only to monitor the society, but also acted as a channel for public feelings and opinions to be expressed. Existing records show that Chinese Business Daily, New Life Daily, Cheng Pao and Ta Kung Pao were then the major channels Huang published his caricatures. Among the four, China Business Daily was most closely linked with Huang, and was the most prolific publisher of his caricatures.

Chinese Business Daily closely followed the political development in the mainland after it resumed publication in 1946. Most of the time, the newspaper devoted its front page to analytical articles and reportage on the civil war. In this regard, Huang Xinbo’s caricature often conveyed a message of peace and democracy, as well as anti-civil war and anti-dictatorship sentiment. For example, the caricature titled This Can Be an Explanation published in Chinese Business Daily in 1946 expressed his hope for an end to the war between the Communist Party and Kuomintang, and the establishment of a democratic coalition. In the same year, caricatures Prerequisites for Peaceful Establishment of a State, Can It Be Stopped?, and See Who Arrives First were published successively, in response to the call from different sectors for a peaceful and democratic way of establishing the government. Moreover, Huang also commented on social problems such as the food shortages and economic monopolies, aiming to expose the dark side of the society. The Shade Behind You (1946), A Tragicomedy of Forced Exchange (1947), and Prices Surge, Bodies of the Starved Found Everywhere (1948) were some examples of this period. With the sense of responsibility and convictions of a news reporter, Huang was willing to stand up for the people and use his pen to reveal the weaknesses of human nature. Just as it is described in his caricature titled A Guest that Knows Not “the Current of the Time” (1946), Huang refused to “go with the current” and held on to his own beliefs and direction during those chaotic times.

Huang Xinbo has produced a relatively small amount of caricature as compared to his woodblock prints; and as they were scattered in various publications, there is also a certain degree of difficulty in collecting and analysing them. Nonetheless, this should not diminish the importance of Huang’s caricatures, as they not only reflect the political and social situation of his time in the post-war Hong Kong, but also offer us a better understanding of Huang’s artistic style, as well as his passionate and righteous personality.


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