This text was prepared for a discussion of Yan Cong's 19 page comic, "Comics Funeral." The round table discussion was organized by Special Comix, and posted on their WeChat account, 异常漫画研究中心.
What is it about Yan Cong’s drawings that makes his comics so charming? Is it the soft pencil shading of the figures? The way we can sometimes make out previous drafts underneath the final illustrations? Is it the seemingly casual disregard for human anatomy? In Comics Funeral, we are drawn to the funny, sometimes impossible ways that bodies appear in his work — the missing necks and rounded figures. The artist’s own hand going into his bag of chips never looks much like a real hand, but always gives us exactly what we need to read it.
Yan Cong’s art has an undeniable graphic quality that has taken years to develop, but I actually think his greatest strength as a cartoonist is his casual, fluent approach to storytelling. The conversations in Comics Funeral are simple snippets of life. If you showed me video footage of these chats, I’d skip through them. It is Yan Cong’s careful rendering that makes us want to engage with them. The steady pacing of the dialogue, broken by atmospheric views of their surroundings, provides a gentle tug on us, pulling us from one page to the next. Yan Cong’s comics range from surrealist narratives to deeply personal explorations of depression, and through all of them, it is his frankness, the feeling that he is ready to share something with the reader, which draws us in.
Translation to Chinese by Phoebe