In stark contrast to the impossibly good-looking characters of Japanese comics, those in Taiwanese manga artist Li Lung-chieh’s (李隆杰) works are often chunky, bald or strange-looking.
“My worries about a receding hairline started when I was still in senior-high school,” the artist said.
“Since then, I have always wanted to create a different appreciation of beauty by ‘brainwashing’ my readers into thinking that bald is the new handsome,” Li added.
Li, who was selected to represent Taiwan at the 38th Angouleme International Comics Festival in 2011, is known for infusing Taiwanese culture into his works, for example drawing on traditional lion dance culture and busy motorcycle-packed streets.
His latest publication, Taiwan Determination: Legend of Beigang (新世紀北港神拳), was featured in January and June in the bestselling magazine Creative Comic Collection and is set in Yunlin County’s Beigang Township (北港), a place dubbed the “Fists Den” (拳頭窟) because of its reputation as the home of Taiwanese-style kung fu.
The book is based on the real-life stories of a Beigang kung fu legend, “Beigang Six Foot Four” (北港六尺四), and features in detail the violent martial arts battles that ensue when a US wrestler arrives in the township to learn about Chinese medicine.
Li’s equally famous work is Love in the Sea of Motorcycles (愛在機車之海), drawing on the nation’s scooter phenomenon.
The work revolves around a scooter enthusiast who aspires to establish a religion that worships motorbikes, dubbed “Motorcycle-ism.”
Li has also created a dialogue-free comic piece, A Lion Head on the Street (流浪的獅頭), saying that the absence of words makes the physical interactions between characters more important.
“Also, writing dialogue for comics is a real pain on the neck,” Li joked.