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Thread: Shaolin Burning by Ant Sang

  1. #1
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    Shaolin Burning by Ant Sang

    A new Shaolin graphic novel. I don't know this artist at all...yet.
    Burning ambition
    ARTHUR WHELAN
    Last updated 05:00 30/01/2011


    Photo: Michael Bradley
    Author, cartoonist and animator Ant Sang at his drawing board.



    Ant Sang is best known for his work on bro'Town but his new graphic novel could not be more different, writes Arthur Whelan.

    The body count is a dead giveaway – we're not in Morningside now.

    Fans of bro'Town will recognise the distinctive art style, but Ant Sang's latest creation could not be further away from the world of Jeff Da Maori and his mates.

    His 190-page graphic novel Shaolin Burning is an homage to the origins and traditions of kung fu in 17th-century China, a sweeping morality tale exploring themes of vengeance, freedom, self-expression and conflict ranging from inner turmoil to the clash of empires – and there's the odd local cameo appearance thrown in.

    And yes, its production has been as exhausting as it sounds. The hours in the studio, says the Auckland 40-year-old, became "crazy" as his publishing deadline loomed, and his ambitions expanded with revisions and new ideas.

    There were days when he would calculate how much ink had yet to flow, and "freak out". There was also a young family to feed without the bro'Town income.

    But he did have a Creative New Zealand grant, a deadline, and a story to tell.

    He's grateful that in those manic last months his wife, Delia, did far more than her share of looking after their two young daughters.

    In the small hours, when the house was quiet, the world of Shaolin Burning would morph from sketchbook thumbnails into sketches and ink.

    "There were a few difficult times early on. In my mind I had equations, calculating how many pages per day. But just knowing that the publishers wanted it was enough motivation."

    At last though, the day came when there were no more pencils to ink and typos to correct.

    Sang didn't have the energy for the planned celebratory dinner – "I'm still recovering!" – but the world of the Shaolin temple, Deadly Plum Blossom and her journey to the cave of the vengeful, cave-dwelling monk was created.

    SANG'S OWN journey to this point began about three years ago, oddly enough prompted in part by an insight provided by The Contender, a late-night reality television show on boxing.

    Each episode would provide glimpses into the sad lives of the down-on-their-luck, last-shot-at-the-title, wannabes. "By they time they made it into the ring, you wanted both to win."

    Sang, looking for something different after six series of bro'Town, had a theme he could marry to his lifelong interest in kung fu (although he admits to only "dabbling" in martial arts himself).

    The Hollywood version always culminated in an enormous fight scene, but Sang was determined to offer something different, and publisher HarperCollins responded to his pitch enthusiastically.

    His sketchbook was less co-operative. The ghosts of bro'Town haunted his technique after so many years of stylised, cartoony drawing, and the effect can be seen in the early character designs.
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    Sang needed something grittier, a loosely brushed look befitting a story he admits is far more violent than his earlier self-published comic-books, the Dharma Punks, a series following the dramas of Auckland anarchists targeting that corporate cliche, the fast-food chain.

    "I think there was one punch thrown in 400 pages."

    On the other hand, Shaolin Burning, featuring mass murder, infanticide and suicide, is not for the kids.

    "The initial idea was of gangs of young people who never made it into the history books – with tats, piercings, an `industrial gothic' look.

    "After I got the main characters figured out, I spent about four months trying to get it more detailed, with lots of historical research, which gave me more ideas."

    That wasn't always a bonus. "With writing you can rewrite, but with comics you have to redraw."

    Sang had every motivation to plan carefully, given the way he works. Each sheet he originally drew was A2 – the same size as the page you are reading. Once pencilled and inked, they had to be scanned in halves that were then digitally stitched together on a computer. Yes, the file sizes were huge.

    However, his informal studies of screenwriting, through books and weekend courses, were a major asset in avoiding wasted time. Another massive resource was the research potential of the internet – he did not have to leave the country to find reference material for the landscapes, architecture and statues.

    Still, it would have been a homecoming, of sorts. Sang is a fifth-generation Kiwi – "I'm such a westernised Chinese" – but traces his roots to southern China and has experienced more culture shock than most, having moved to Hong Kong with his family for 11 years in the 1980s, before returning to Auckland.

    Hence the dialogue of Shaolin Burning ranges from dialogue such as "Bro, you'd waste us" to deliberately poetic and flowery chapter titles such as "Unversed Disciple of the White Crane Temple".

    One such chapter, "The Legend of Ma Ti Fu Ken", is a tribute to a celebrated Auckland illustrator and tattoo artist, Martin Emond, who took his own life in 2004, aged 34.

    This episode illustrates, literally, another theme Sang wants to explore: how talent can be a gift or a curse, and the options open to the talented.

    Emond was an inspiration to many comic artists, and his death was a shock, Sang said.

    It's not the only cameo.

    The people involved "may or may not recognise themselves, I made them look Asian".

    SO THE temple has burned down, the Killer Tongs have travelled to meet their destiny and an inspiration for a new style of kung fu is born.

    Sang steps out of his cramped studio, leaving behind the world he has created and returning to a mundane reality of bills and attention-needy offspring.

    He is pleased with his achievement and is gratified by the feedback so far, ahead of the formal book launch and exhibition opening at the Gifthorse gallery, central Auckland, on Thursday.

    But no one makes fortunes out of graphic novels in this country. It's time to get some money in the bank, perhaps from storyboarding and illustration.

    Another graphic novel is a possibility, this time about zombies.

    And given Ant Sang's exhausting workload after the past few years, it sounds like he's already done a lot of the research.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  2. #2
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    I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for it, I wish there were more novels with kung fu or martial arts flare.
    "if its ok for shaolin wuseng to break his vow then its ok for me to sneak behind your house at 3 in the morning and bang your dog if buddha is in your heart then its ok"-Bawang

    "I get what you have said in the past, but we are not intuitive fighters. As instinctive fighters, we can chuck spears and claw and bite. We are not instinctively god at punching or kicking."-Drake

    "Princess? LMAO hammer you are such a pr^t"-Frost

  3. #3
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    It's not available on Amazon yet. I found it on the New Zealand website Mighty Ape for $20. It even has a trailer for it:

    http://www.mightyape.co.nz/product/B...Novel/9134410/

  4. #4
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    More on Sang

    Donating to the needy. Now that is authentic Shaolin.

    bro'Town to aid Christchurch
    Last updated 16:13 05/03/2011

    What do Shaolin monks, the Christchurch earthquake and characters from bro'Town have in common? Graphic novelist Ant Sang.

    In a bid to raise money for the earthquake, Sang has donated an artwork featuring a character from his new graphic novel Shaolin Burning.

    Called the 'Monk Who Doubts', the 42cm by 48cm piece is on TradeMe and so far bidding is around the $70 mark.

    The piece was drawn while Sang was being filmed for a television segment due to air later this month.

    He said the character "is like his name suggests, struggling with being a monk and when the temple burns down and he looses someone important to him, he goes on a 15-year rampage."

    "It's about his search to get back on the path of a monk."

    Sang was also the designer for the animated television show bro'Town so he's offered to put pen to paper and draw a one-off drawing of the auction winner amongst the characters.

    The character's real life voices - Oscar Kightley, David Fane, Mario Gaoa and Shimpal Lelisi - will also sign the finished work.

    Sang isn't from Christchurch but said he "just wanted to do something to help out down there seeing as I'm all the way up in Auckland and quite removed from it".

    It's been a while since he has drawn the characters but, "I spent six years drawing bro'Town so I don't think I could forget".

    All proceeds from both TradeMe auctions will go to the Red Cross 2011 Christchurch Art Appeal.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  5. #5
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    More

    HH & ge - did you get this yet? Anyone read it?

    Shaolin Burning
    By Ant Sang (HarperCollins, RRP $24,99)
    REVIEWED BY CHRIS CHILTON
    Last updated 08:00 27/03/2011



    Here's something on the edge: a graphic novel (read long comic book) penned by Auckland artist Ant Sang.

    Fans of the seminal Kiwi cartoon bro'Town will recognise the style, perhaps, but not the characters in this destructive rampage through the blood-drenched realm of Chinese legend.

    The story follows the converging paths of Deadly Plum Blossom, an orphan raised by a Shaolin nun, and Monk Who Doubts, a monstrous, faithless, enraged killing machine.

    Revenge, redemption and martial-artistic expression figure highly in the motivations.

    Anyone who's ever seen a kung fu movie will get the picture.

    There's a ton of blood, guts and sword-swinging, with flying severed body parts and jets of blood frozen in glorious monochrome throughout Sang's darkly stylish frames.

    Despite the 17th century robes, the drawings have a street-punk symbolism that is fresh and edgy. But there's real depth in the facial characterisations, too, meaning that you care by the time Shaolin Burning races to its apocalypic conclusion.

    It's fast paced and furious; exciting to read and look at.

    Check it out.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    HH & ge - did you get this yet? Anyone read it?
    Not yet. I've been extremely busy with post-spring break midterms and a mad dash for an expedited passport for school/government travel.

  7. #7
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    finalist for the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards

    HH & ge - read it yet?
    Children's book awards finalists annouced
    Last updated 05:00 28/02/2012

    ANT SANG: His graphic novel - Shaolin Burning - is a finalist for the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards.

    Emerging authors and illustrators have made every category of the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards this year, alongside their better known counterparts.

    Announcing the finalists today, convenor of judges Gillian Candler said the judges were excited by the emerging new talent.

    "We're looking for great quality books that will grab children and make them want to read and the judging panel unanimously agree each of this year's finalists do exactly that," Candler said.

    For the first time this year, a young adult graphic novel - Shaolin Burning by Ant Sang - is a finalist in the picture book category which is generally dominated by books for the very young.

    The judging criteria mean that illustrated books are judged in either the picture book or non-fiction categories.

    Finalists were selected from more than 130 children's books published in New Zealand in 2011 and submitted for the awards.

    Candler, an independent publishing and education consultant, is joined on the judging panel by school curriculum advisor, librarian and bookseller Annemarie Florian and award-winning writer and illustrator Bob Kerr.

    Winners will be announced on May 16.

    As well as winners in each category, the judges will decide which author wins the New Zealand Post Children's Book of the Year prize.

    School age children also get to their say, with voting for the children's choice award starting today.

    Finalists in the 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards:

    Picture Book:
    The Cat's Pyjamas by Catherine Foreman
    Rāhui (Maori version) by Chris Szekely and illustrated by Malcolm Ross
    Rāhui (English version) by Chris Szekely and illustrated by Malcolm Ross
    Shaolin Burning by Ant Sang
    Stomp! by Ruth Paul
    Waiting for Later by Tina Matthews
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  8. #8
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    More from Ant

    New Zealand comic artist draws on Western, Eastern influences
    CNA 2015-02-13 10:49 (GMT+8)


    New Zealand comic artist Ant Sang shows off his graphic novel, The Dharma Punks, at the Taipei International Book Exhibition, Feb. 11. (Photo/CNA)

    Award-winning comic artist and graphic designer Ant Sang said Wednesday that he has been influenced in his work by both Western and Eastern cultures, having spent his childhood and teenage years in New Zealand and Hong Kong.

    Sang, a fifth generation Chinese New Zealander, told reporters that he drew on those experiences to produce bestselling graphic novels like The Dharma Punks and the award-winning Shaolin Burning.

    "With my artwork, it's a little bit of Western and Eastern and it's combined into a style that maybe isn't easy to categorize, but I try to find my own voice and my own style," he said on the sidelines of the Taipei International Book Exhibition.

    The two novels have been highly acclaimed and have earned Sang a loyal following in New Zealand.

    Shaolin Burning remained in the top-10 of the New Zealand Booksellers Bookchart for 10 weeks and won a prize at the 2012 New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards.

    Sang has also won awards for his work on the popular New Zealand animated TV series Bro'Town.

    He said he grew up reading a lot of comics and watching many TV shows in New Zealand. At the age of seven, when his family moved to Hong Kong, he was introduced to Japanese comics and animation and Chinese martial arts movies.

    "I'm quite happy that I've got a lot of influences to draw upon," Sang said.

    The 11 years he lived in Hong Kong was an "amazing experience" that later influenced his work, he told readers at an event at the book fair.

    Sang mentioned the example of Shaolin Burning, which is about a group of martial artists in 17th century China who form underground fight clubs after martial arts are banned in the country.

    While Shaolin Burning may be ostensibly about martial artists, it is really about the relationship people have with their talents, said Sang, who is a Kung Fu fan.

    When he was younger, he said, he saw art as something that was pure and he allowed it to lead his life, but as he grew older, he had to think about how he could use art to support his family.

    "With 'Shaolin Burning' I wanted to explore the way that my relationship with my art had changed," Sang said.

    He said his stories are often about subjects that he "needed to explore at the time."

    Sang said The Dharma Punks series, for example, is a story that stemmed from his own experience of losing a friend in a car accident when he was younger.

    "It was the first time that death had confronted me, so it was quite an emotional thing," Sang said.

    The eight-part comic series is set in the 1990s in Auckland, New Zealand, where a group of anarchist punks hatch a plan to blow up a multinational fast food restaurant. However, the plan takes an unexpected turn and the main character Chopstick, a Buddhist punk, finds himself faced with some big personal decisions.

    Not only was Chopstick involved in the plan, he was also dealing with the death of a friend and struggling with spiritual and political beliefs, Sang said.

    The series also offers a view of New Zealand that differs somewhat from the average perception, the artist said.

    "This is set in the city, in an underground scene where people hang out at night and go to see bands at night and live in converted warehouses," he said. "So it's a bit of a grimier side of New Zealand than maybe overseas people are used to seeing."

    New Zealand is a small island nation like Taiwan, Sang said. It has a rich history, but because it is so isolated, its people spend a lot of time looking outward for inspiration and figuring out where they belong in the world, he said.

    "In my work, those are the kind of ideas that I like to explore–where we as people belong and how we fit into the world."
    Has anyone read this yet?
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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