Sunday, September 12, 2010 | By: Rudi Butt

Cartoon Paper And The Chinese Cartoonist

Updated (partial) on October 6, 2010
Part IV of Newsies in the Nineteenth Century

China Punch of May 28, 1867
1867-1876 China Punch - Hong Kong's First Cartoon Paper
In April 1867, China Punch, a fortnightly illustrated paper, was published by the China Mail, and conducted by editor W.N. Middleton and others (unfortunately, I do not know who the cartoonists were). China Punch ran on lines quite similar to its London prototype - the Punch, which was created by wood engraver Ebenezer Landells and writer Henry Mayhew in 1841. The dual got the idea for the paper from a satirical French paper, Charivari, and in fact the first issued (July 17, 1841) was subtitled 'The London Charivri'.

The China Punch featured local topics and men in a humorous and effective manner, coded, however with heavy colonial flavor making fun of local Chinese customs and assuming the superiority of British values. Such were met with almost instant popularity among the Western residents and visitors alike in Hong Kong. The paper ceased publication between May 28, 1868 and November 5, 1872, and was permanently closed on November 22, 1876 when Middleton left Hong Kong. The "Twentieth Century Impression of Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Other Treaty Ports of China" said that since that time no paper of the kind has managed to rival its humorous and its witty caricatures and cartoons. A company named "W.N. Middleton and Co." existed in Hong Kong in the 1910s. I have no idea what the firm did for business and whether it was related to our Middleton.

This is a photo of the original print of the Shi Guk To,
a later version became full-colored.
Tse Tsan-tai - Hong Kong’s First Cartoonist
Republic revolutionist and South China Morning Post co-founder, Tse Tsan-tai 謝纘泰 was Hong Kong’s (as well as China’s) first cartoonist. The cartoon he created, "Shi Guk To" 時局圖 (The Situation in the Far East), was printed in Japan in 1899. In Tse’s cartoon, the map of China was infested by different animals and symbols that represented foreign powers that occupied territories in Qing China - Britain the dog, France the frog, Japan the sunray, German the sausage, and Russia the bear. United States the eagle was included as a potential threat. The Shi Guk To was reprinted and republished after the original publication both in China and overseas without citation of the original.

Tse Tsan-tai
Tse Tsan-tai, alias Tse Juan-tai, James See, was born on May 16, 1872 in Sydney. He was the son of Chinese immigrant small-business-owner Tse Yat-cheong 謝日昌, alias John See, who hailed from Kaiping 開平 in Guangdong. Tse, the father, went to Sydney in late 1850s or early 1860s where he opened a general store. Tse’s mother, Kwok Shi 郭氏 was said to be Australia’s first woman immigrant from China. The family later moved to Grafton and finally to a tin-mining town named Tingha, not far from Inverell. The family was generally known under the surname of Ah See. Tse was baptized James See in 1879 in Anglican Christ Church Cathedral in Grafton. In 1888, the whole family (Tse had two brothers and three sisters) moved to Hong Kong and there Tse attended and graduated from the Queen’s College 皇仁書院.



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