We found a big collection of comic books in Shi Ming’s childhood belongings. The Chinese name for these graphic books is lianhuanhua, literally translated as “linked picture”. We also called this type of palm-size picture book xiaorenshu, literally “little character’s book”.
From their beginnings in the 1920s until their popularity bottomed out in the 1990s, lianhuanhua were among the most widely read literature in the country. Especially from the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976 until the 1990s, lianhuanhua went through their final golden era. The most common format for lianhuanhua was 5 by 3.5 inch black and white paperback, typically with more than 100 pages.
The illustrators of these palm sized books employ a tremendous range of styles. The topics of the stories ranged from Communist propaganda, historical classics, to the adaptation of the western novels and movies. These were the books that accompanied the coming of age of these generations.