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Sunday, 9 October 2016

On Chinese Ghost Stories...And Comics...and a little Liu Yifei!

I have to say that  Oriental Ghost Stories: Tales of Mystery and the Supernatural was a little disappointing.  Almost two thirds (or more) deals with Japanese ghost stories rather that Chinese as the sellers indicated.  Really -did I think they had read the books?

But Strange Tales From A Chinese Studio has not disappointed.  Plenty of good stories, if not what many Europeans might think of as ghost stories. So a lot to go through!

Someone might think that I have forgotten my plan to research Chinese traditional ghost stories in the hopes of producing a number of Chinese Ghost themed comic albums.

I have not.

I'm hoping Pu Songling's book will fill in a lot of gaps in what I know (they are BIG gaps -come on I have never investigated any Chinese ghosts!). That and Lafcadio Hearn's (apparently he is better known and still respected in Japan) Oriental Ghost Stories: Tales of Mystery and the Supernatural.

Would they ever be as good as some of those old Charlton Horror comic strips set in Japan and Korea and drawn by Sanho Kim? 

Oddly, I used to have some Hong Kong horror Manhua but those simply vanished -I mean, who the ----- steals comics they don't understand (unless they were just interested in the art?).  Whatever, The Thinker (possibly) presenting some good Chinese horror stories would be fun.

In the meantime I have to find another source to buy Manhua from!  It seems the other large Chinese store in Bristol gets newspapers and magazines but not Manhua.  Oh the struggles of my life!  :-)

This was my original posting on the ideas I had, and still do.

Zhong Kui -The King of Ghosts!

I love Chinese comics and I love ghost stories.  I was hoping that I might find inspiration from Chinese comics but, sadly, cannot get hold of any of the horror comics.

It also seems my book of traditional Chinese ghost stories went missing years ago without me knowing.

I did remember one name and -voila!  Wikipedia:

And with a title like "King of Ghosts" how can you not be inspired?

As related on Wikipedia -I remember the story being MUCH longer- this is how Zhong Kui became....

.... the King of Ghosts!!

According to folklore, Zhong Kui travelled with Du Ping (杜平), a friend from his hometown, to take part in the imperial examinations at the capital.

Though Zhong achieved top honours in the exams, his title of "zhuangyuan" was stripped by the emperor because of his disfigured appearance. In anger, Zhong Kui committed suicide upon the palace steps by hurling himself against the palace gate until his head was broken.

Du Ping buried him.

During his judgment, the Hell King saw potential in Zhong. Intelligent enough to score top honors in the imperial examinations, but damned to hell because he committed suicide.

The Hell King, judging Zhong Kui,  then gave him the title, as the King of Ghost, forever to hunt, capture, maintain and order ghosts. After Zhong became King of Ghosts in Hell, he returned to his hometown on Chinese New Year's Eve.

To repay Du Ping's kindness, Zhong Kui gave his younger sister in marriage to Du.

Yes, the story has the ring of many others over the centuries and then in comic books -Jim Corrigan, cop, gunned down and then resurrected by The Higher Power to combat evil.  And Atlas (Seaboard Periodicals) Grim Ghost was a betrayed highwayman, hung and resurrected by Satan to find and bring him evil souls as...The Grim Ghost.

Oh, and here is a tale!

 Zhong Kui's popularity in folklore can be traced to the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang China (712 to 756). According to Song Dynasty sources, once the Emperor Xuanzong was gravely ill. He had a dream in which he saw two ghosts. The smaller of the ghosts stole a purse from imperial consort Yang Guifei and a flute belonging to the emperor. The bigger ghost, wearing the hat of an official, captured the smaller ghost, tore out his eye and ate it. The bigger ghost then introduced himself as Zhong Kui. He said that he had sworn to rid the empire of evil. When the emperor awoke, he had recovered from his illness. So he commissioned the court painter Wu Daozi to produce an image of Zhong Kui to show to the officials.

This was highly influential to later representations of Zhong. (see image below)

Forgive my ignorance if there has been a comic book adaption of this story but I think "the Black Tower treatment" is needed.  I see a whole Tales of Terror 2015 (volume 5) dedicated to Chinese and Japanese ghosts.  Hmm?

But first, those Green Skies need taking care of!

Oh, and if you are wondering about the photos they are of Chinese actress Liu Yifei -also known as Crystal Liu Yifei- in costume promoting the movie Chinese Ghost Story costume.  You can find more

 info here: 

And see a trailer here: 
Have fun!

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