First came manga from Japan. Next came manhwa from Korea. Now, the latest comics import from Asia is manhua from China - and one of the leading creators of this small but fascinating group of artists is Benjamin, nee Zhang Bin.
Benjamin's painterly style and use of saturated, vivid colors to tell some fairly dark stories about alienated teens and twenty-somethings in China's urban sprawl has been wowing North American readers since TokyoPop first published Orange in early 2009.
Fast forward a year, and the follow-up volume, Remember was recently released in early February 2010. In the interim, Benjamin made an appearance at New York Comic-Con, got his artwork featured on the cover of Marvel Comics' The New Mutants, and Orange was honored by the American Library Association's Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)'s Great Graphic Novels for Teens list, he attended Angloueme, France's mega comics show, and was the featured guest on a recent edition of the TokyoPop Insider webcast. It's been a pretty busy year for Benjamin!
I first met Benjamin at New York Comic-Con in 2009 and spoke briefly with him and his publisher, Patrick Abry from Xiao Pan at the show. Part 1 of this interview with Benjamin captures these earlier conversations from NYCC. Part 2 is a transcript of Benjamin's recent TokyoPop Insider chat with Senior Editor Lillian Diaz-Pryzbyl.
Benjamin is just one of six Chinese creators featured in my list of Chinese manhua to remember. Check it out and see a sampling of these up-and-coming Chinese creators.
Also worth checking out: The Graphic Novel Reporter's recent interview with Benjamin.
Image credits: © Deb Aoki, © Benjamin / XIAO PAN