Comic tales of sex and violence

Stephen Vines peruses the popular offerings at the Hong Kong book fair

Three weeks ago Hong Kong's Convention and Exhibition Centre was under a tight security cordon while it played host to the handover ceremonies. Yesterday it was under siege from hundreds of thousands of people attending a book fair.

It would not be accurate to say Hong Kong is overrun with earnest bibliophiles. In fact the scene around the stands of purveyors of mainstream books - those volumes with lots of words, few pictures and rather sober covers, was tranquil.

The same cannot be said for the stands enveloped in crash barriers holding back the hordes anxious to buy such best selling titles as Lost in Love Found in Dust. This offering from a company called Culturecom, part of the "Feel 100 per cent" series, is promoted with a cover picture of a muscular young man with blond flowing hair staring intently into the lurid Chinese characters which spell out the book's title.

Rather more to the point is a series aptly called "7 Trash", containing translations form Japanese novelettes. Again, the covers are adorned with cartoon pictures of both men and women displaying muscles of rather unlikely proportions.

Yes, Hong Kong is just like the rest of the world, where sex and violence move publications like nothing else. The masters of this genre in Hong Kong are Jade Dynasty Publications, who have pride of place at the fair with a massive Chinese-style pavilion and the sort of queues normally associated with a pop concert.

The company is controlled by Tony Wong, one of Hong Kong's most successful cartoonists, who made a fortune by creating mythical historical characters with martial arts prowess, an extraordinary ability to get pretty girls to tag along and some tall story lines. His story lines were so fantastic that they failed to persuade the high court judge who jailed him for two- and-half years on charges of conspiracy to defraud. Like one of his comic book characters he bounced back to found a new publishing empire on his release from jail.

The exhibition's organisers, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), expect about 300,000 people to visit by the time the fair closes at the end of the week - a fifth of the entire population.

Hong Kong popular culture freely mixes the depiction of grisly violence with a more prudish attitude to sex; it is a natural home for comics which allow the imagination to run riot. "Of course comics are quite popular," says HKTDC spokesman William Chung, but he stresses that "this is the largest collection of Chinese books in the world". So it is, but it is the comic and comic-derived books which are packing them in.

Worried about the impact of these publications on the young thronging around the stands, Hong Kong's government censors have established an on-site office and are busy patrolling the exhibition for signs of pornography which, according to the many prominently displayed warning signs, means instant expulsion from the exhibition.

But there is no fear of expulsion for comics which distort recent history. Jade Dynasty is offering pictures of a bloated-looking Chris Patten in full colonial regalia of plumed hat and white dress uniform, waving goodbye to Hong Kong. The former Governor was famous precisely for not ever having donned an outfit of this kind.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam