Slowork Publishing (慢工文化公司), a company that specializes in documentary comics, has produced the first comic to document the life of a political victim during the White Terror era.
The comic, titled Son of Formosa (來自清水的孩子), tells the story of political prisoner Tsai Kun-lin (蔡焜霖) and was made in collaboration with historical researchers, the company said.
Tsai, 90, spent 1950 to 1960 in Green Island prison following a crackdown on members of the Taipei Workers Committee (台北市工作委員會), a group of Chinese Communist Party sympathizers planted within various government agencies.
Photo courtesy of Slowork Publishing
Tsai, who worked at the now-defunct Directorate General of Telecommunications, was among the first group of political prisoners to be incarcerated at the prison.
In 1966, Tsai began publishing a children’s magazine titled Prince (王子雜誌) — which contained popular comics — for which the Ministry of Culture honored him with a Special Contributions award at the 2018 Golden Comic Awards.
Through Son of Formosa, National Taitung University professor Yu Pei-yun (游珮芸) and illustrator Chou Chien-hsin (周見信) hoped to document Tsai’s life and contributions, the publisher said.
Photo courtesy of Slowork Publishing
Slowork said it plans to publish four issues of the comic in the next two years, with the first to appear in May.
Comics are a publication for the masses and much more approachable than history textbooks, publisher president Huang Pei-shan (黃珮珊) said.
Son of Formosa shows a “respect for historical facts, close attention to narrative and use of refined imagery,” making it easy for modern readers to understand the White Terror era, Huang said, adding that she hopes the comic will one day be sold internationally.
“The pain caused by the nation’s authoritarian history needs to be examined over a long period. Only then will it be properly processed,” she said.
The publisher hopes to accomplish with Son of Formosa what the Japanese animated film In This Corner of the World did for a discussion of life in Japan during World War II, she said.
Each issue of the comic would employ a different art style, reflecting changes in society over the years of the White Terror era, she said.
Author Gustave Cheng (鄭順聰) is to act as a consultant for the four issues to ensure that the complex language environment of the period — when Taiwanese, Mandarin and Japanese intermingled — is accurately represented, she said.
National Chi Nan University assistant professor Weng Chi-an (翁稷安) is to act as the history consultant, she added.
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