Thursday, October 2, 2008

Old Master Q

Old Master Q is a popular Chinese manhua created by Alfonso Wong. The cartoon first appeared in the newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong in 1962, and later serialized in 1964.. The comic is still in publication today.

The series features the now well-known characters such as Old Master Q and Big Potato, as well as Mr Chin, Mr Chiu and Miss Chan, in many different hilarious situations. They are usually portrayed in a variety of social statuses, professions and time periods, ranging from beggars and office workers to actors and ancient warriors, allowing a wide variety of settings and ideas. More outlandish scenarios includes close encounters with aliens, ghost sightings and the afterlife.

In the context of the strips, Old Master Q, Big Potato and Mr. Chin are close friends; Mr. Chiu often play an antagonistic role toward the trio; finally, Miss Chan is often portrayed as a love interest to Old Master Q. The comic is now copyrighted by WangZ Inc, a company established by Joseph Wong Chak in Taipei, Taiwan.

Politics and Issues in Old Master Q

While Old Master Q comics primarily focuses on humor, it also reflects changing social trends, particularly from the 1960s to the 1980s. The comics would sometimes feature societal problems in urban life, such as poverty, petty thefts and secret societies. It also poked fun at fashion, contemporary art and rock music. The comic strips sometimes also bemoan the decline of ethical or moral values in modern day living. One can spot characters displaying acts of selfishness or misery, although the comics occasionally display good values like filial piety. The language barrier, mostly between the Chinese language and the English language, was not overlooked, either. This is seen in some comic strips showing difficulty in communication between old master Q and foreigners, especially Westerners.

In rare cases, Old Master Q comics would express serious views regarding major political changes taking place in Hong Kong during the 60's-80's. It had previously criticized overly Westernized Chinese, who were sometimes shown in the comic strips to slant more towards the interests of Westerners than local Chinese. The agreement to hand over power of Hong Kong to , following the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984, also became a subject matter, as a few comic strips were published through the late 1980s and early 1990s expressing the characters' fears of handover, frequently represented in a numeral of the year it would take place: 1997. Some of these comic strips had even gone the distance to depict direct assault of what appeared to be a representation of the Chinese government and the Communist Party of China, which usually takes place near the end of the comic strip. However, the handover was later depicted in more a positive light in the years leading to the actual event, possibly representing a changing perspective from the author.


The comic series was made into many and cartoon animations, one of which combined live actors and advanced graphics. The list of Old Master Q movies is as follows, in chronological order:

! width=20% | English Name
! width=10% | Chinese Name
! width=13% | Release Date
! width=15% | Type
! width=30% | Casts
| Old Master Q || 老夫子 ||August 3, 1965 || Black & White film ||
| Old Master Q and Big Potato || 老夫子與大蕃薯 || May 19, 1966 || Black & White film || Xue Ni , Gao Luquan ,

| Old Master Q Triple Rescue of Foolish-Ming || 老夫子三救傻瓜明 || July 13, 1966 || Black & White film ||
| Old Master Q || 老夫子 || March 8, 1975 || film || Liang Tian , Ding Pei ,
Qiao Hong , Xi Guapao ,
Luo Lan
| Mr Funny-bone || 我係老夫子 || October 2, 1976 || film || Li Qing , Wang Sha
Ai Donggua , Liu Luhua
| Old Master Q Strange and Interesting Adventures || 老夫子奇趣錄 || November 18, 1978 ||
| Colour Old Master Q || 七彩老夫子 || July 16, 1981 || cartoon ||
| Old Master Q Water Tiger || 老夫子水虎傳 || July 10, 1982 || cartoon ||
| Old Master Q & "San-T" || 山T老夫子 || August 4, 1983 || cartoon ||
| Old Master Q 2001 || 老夫子2001 || April 5, 2001 || film || Nicholas Tse , Cecilia Cheung ,
Alphonso Wong
| Master Q: Incredible Pet Detective || 老夫子反斗偵探 || December 20, 2003 || cartoon || Eric Tsang , Du Wenze ,
Andes Yue , Lily Guo ,
Dexter Young
| Old Master Q - Fantasy Zone Battle || 老夫子 - 幻想区域争斗 || 2003 || TV series ||
| Master Q || 老夫子 || 2004 || TV series ||
| The New Unbeatable Old Master Q: Shaolin Detective Agency || 無敵老夫子新傳:少林偵探社 || 2005 || film || Luo Jiaying , Tang Baoru

* Other actors in OMQ movies include: Hong Wei , Connie Chan Po-chu , Nancy Sit , Zhu Yougao , Fen Ni
* Other lyricists/singers include: Wong Jim , Joseph Koo , Leslie Cheung

Dispute on plagiarism

Some PRC cartoonists and readers claim that the idea of Old Master Q was actually created by Peng Di in the late 1930s and not Alfonso Wong. They allege that the cartoons first appeared in the newspapers and magazines in Beijing and Tianjin . The character created by Peng Di resembled Old Master Q which is currently being copyright by OMQ ZMedia Ltd. The character by Peng Di wore similar clothing and had a matching personality to Old Master Q.

A writer from Tianjin published a book in 2001 containing samples of work by Peng Di, which displayed the resemblance between Peng Di and Alfonso Wong's works.

The result of this dispute remains unclear as WangZ Inc. has denied all plagiarism accusations, while a small number of mostly PRC cartoonists and readers insist that Peng Di's ideas were stolen by Alfonso Wong.

No comments: