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Thread: Shi Long Pang - The Wandering Shaolin Monk by Ben Costa

  1. #1
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    Shi Long Pang - The Wandering Shaolin Monk by Ben Costa

    Design Sifu started a thread on the media forum - First Fight: a comic tale of entering Mixed Martial Arts - but I felt this was worthy of its own thread here.

    Shi Long Pang: The Wandering Shaolin Monk by web cartoonist Ben Costa.
    Gene Ching
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  2. #2
    Oh hey! Thanks, Gene. I'm a longtime lurker of the forums. I was actually going to make a post pretty soon to get some feedback on my comic from the community here before I print the book.

    If anyone has the interest to read it I'd love to hear your thoughts good or bad. It's somewhat historical fiction, but as with anything Shaolin there's a bunch of legend too (and things I made up). I'm about 15 pages from finishing the first volume. If you have negative comments, suggestions or especially corrections on anything, I'd really appreciate it. So don't be afraid to lay it on me.

  3. #3
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    Thanks, this is really cool.
    "It is the peculiar quality of a fool to perceive the faults of others and to forget his own." -Cicero

  4. #4
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    Very cool, Ben, very cool.

    But don't thank me. Thank Design Sifu. He found it first and I just poached it off his forum. He's the graphic novel fan, not me so much.

    If you want to promote this in print, I've got an interesting thing coming up that might showcase your work nicely. Here's our advertising info and you'll find my direct contact in there.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  5. #5
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    The print edition

    Iron Crotch University Press? Oh Ben...


    A review a day: Pang, The Wandering Shaolin Monk volume 1: Refuge of the Heart
    * by Greg Burgas
    * in Comic Reviews



    Yes, thatís really what itís called. Would I lie to you?

    Ben Costa was kind enough to send me a very nice hardcover edition of his webcomic, Shi Long Pang, the Wandering Shaolin Monk, which collects the first long story arc. You can keep up with the series on-line, or you could throw $19.95 Costaís way and pick this up. Books look nice on the shelves, you know!!!! (This is self-published, but Costa names his publisher ďIron Crotch University Press,Ē which I thought was pretty fun (and actually has a connection to something in the book). I definitely want to matriculate there!)

    Costa tells the story of Ö well, a wandering Shaolin monk named Pang, surprisingly enough. He sets his story in 1675, not long after the ascension of the Manchu emperors as the Qing dynasty (the Manchu were from Manchuria and were regarded as filthy foreigners by the Han, the ďrealĒ Chinese). They displaced the Ming dynasty, and Costa makes clear that only 30 years later, many southerners were still trying to restore the Ming. Costa sets the book in 1675 because he uses the backdrop of the Three Feudatories War to tell it, and the events in southern China are fairly important to his story. So this book, being all historical and ****, is kind of right up my alley. Plus, who doesnít love Shaolin monks?

    This volume is 188 pages long, and Costa takes some time getting into it, unfortunately. If you read the comic on-line or buy this book, I encourage you to stick with it, because the first 50 pages or so are a bit of a slog, and thatís coming from someone who really likes history. Costa tries to pack a ton of obscure Chinese history AND lots of Buddhism into the early pages, and itís tough to get through. Basically, what you need to know is: foreigners have taken over China, several groups in the south donít like it and exist in various stages of revolt, and a rumor begins that monasteries are harboring Ming loyalists, which means the Kangxi Emperor (who ruled from 1654 to 1722) ended up besieging Pangís monastery. And thereís a mysterious monk searching for Pang.

    Pang tells the story of his monastery in flashback Ė Costa begins the story with Pang on the road, entering a new city and asking about other monks, even though heís careful to avoid mentioning that heís a Shaolin monk, because of the treason and all. He ends up at an inn, where the owner takes a liking to him and gives him a room, and of course the innkeeper has a beautiful daughter, with whom Pang becomes enamoured and to whom he spills his guts. He gradually tells her the story of the monastery, and how the emperorís army destroyed it, and how he and two others, tasked with guarding the monasteryís holy writings, were the only ones to escape. Pang was wounded and hidden, so he believes the other two thought he was dead. So heís searching for them.

    Of course, an attraction grows between Pang and Yang Yang, the innkeeperís daughter. Pang accompanies her to a festival and is forced to reveal that heís quite good at martial arts, betraying his Shaolin origin. And because the magistrate in the town distrusts Shaolin monks, Pang is forced to fight even though he doesnít want to. Isnít that always the way? Thereís also a mysterious dude in a big hat tracking Pang, which canít bode well for our hero. So thereís a lot going on in the book, and once Costa gets past the introductory stuff, it moves along a fairly good clip. We still get a lot of exposition, but we also get plenty of action, and itís a good blend. We get some tremendous fight scenes, but also get some nice character development, as Pang and Yang Yang talk about their lives and their dreams, coming closer and closer even though they know that their lives are probably destined for different paths. Costa does a good job showing that the two characters are bound by their culture and society, which exerts an inexorable pull on both of them. This is evident both in their budding romance and the way they must deal with the political forces in the town. Itís not terribly original to place two lovers in a situation that keeps them apart, but that doesnít mean itís a bad idea.

    Costaís art is cartoony but very rich in details, giving us a very nice sense of 17th-century China. Itís a crowded book, with many panels per page and a lot going on in each panel, but heís able to open it up nicely when he has to. The attack on the monastery and Pangís attempts to get through the fog that has draped itself over the surrounding forest is a haunting set piece Ė the fact that Pang canít see what is happening adds a lot of tension, drama, and tragedy to the scene. Then, when he reaches the battle, Costa crowds the panels with soldiers and monks, giving us a good sense of the cramped conditions of a fight to the death. The fight against the magistrates is choreographed very well, as Pang and his attackers need to work within the confines of a small room. Costa canít mimic the smells of the time period (the biggest problem with depicting a historical era on film or in comics is the lack of smell, because that makes up such a big part of it, I would imagine), but because he makes it clear how cramped the towns of the time period were, it makes it easier to imagine what it would smell like. Itís not perfect, but itís better than nothing. The only complaint I have about the art is Pang himself. Costa draws his head as a circle with dark blobs for eyes and a line for a mouth. Every other character is drawn with much more precision. Iím sure Costa has a reason for drawing Pang that way, but I honestly donít know what it is. He looks really out of place, though. Maybe thatís the point?

    Thatís a minor complaint, though. Pang is an interesting and exciting comic, with a lot of information about the time period (complete with many footnotes!) and a grand story that has potential to run for quite a while. I donít know how long Costa plans to do his comic, but itís cool that he thinks big. Head on over to his site and read up on the wandering monk, and if you want a nice collected edition, Iím sure Costa would be happy to sell this to you!

    Tomorrow: A food anthology? What?
    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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    Last weekend at Wondercon

    We went up primarily to interview Saoirse Ronan and Joe Wright for our recent review HANNA: The Girl Who Kicked Ass. I met Ben Costa in person and we had a nice chat.


    Dig Ben's cool shirt!
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  7. #7
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    I just had a nice lunch with Ben


    We'll be offering some of his autographed books for our next online sweepstakes, each with a cool special drawing.
    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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    Our next online sweepstakes!

    Enter to win PANG: THE WANDERING SHAOLIN MONK, Artist Edition Autographed by Ben Costa. Contest ends at 6:00 p.m. PST on 06/02/2011. Good luck all!
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  9. #9
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    Our winners are announced

    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  10. #10
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    Not to give away the answer but...

    Check out our latest sweepstakes for TEAM IRON CROTCH T-SHIRTS. Contest ends 6:00 p.m. PST on 11/03/2011. Good luck all!
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  11. #11
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    Winners announced

    Gene Ching
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  12. #12
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    ttt 4 2012

    Webcomic Pang, the Wandering Shaolin Monk kicks kung fu and comedy into the aftermath of the Ming Dynasty
    Lauren Davis

    Shi Long Pang is an unlikely Shaolin monk, and if he's not careful, he's going to be a dead Shaolin monk. After escaping the burning of his temple, this pudgy little holy man is wandering Yunnan province looking for the lost members of his order. But he'll have to make sure the Qing Emperor's bannermen don't find him ó and the book he's carrying ó first.

    Ben Costa's Pang, the Wandering Shaolin Monk (also known as Shi Long Pang) doesn't contain any magic beyond the incredible powers of the Shaolin monks' wushu. But this historical drama contains both facts and folklore about 17th-century China and the legendary burning of the Southern Shaolin Temple in 1674 (although the very existence of a such a temple in Fujian province remains in doubt). This drops us into the era following the grand stability of the Ming Dynasty and into the uncertainty of the dawning Qing Dynasty.

    Webcomic Pang, the Wandering Shaolin Monk kicks kung fu and comedy into the aftermath of the Ming DynastyPang (whose name, aptly, means "fat") enters a walled city in Yunnan looking for his fellow Shaolin. He befriends Yang Yang, the charming niece of a local innkeeper, and reveals the truth of his situation: the Shaolin temple was burned by agents of the Qing Empire, and he must protect the remnants of Shaolin knowledge, both in his own person and in the book of Shaolin history that he carries. Through flashbacks, we get a taste of Pang's life at the monastery, how the monks responded to the threat of destruction, plus the bloody battle that follows.

    Now Pang is a stranger in a strange land. He carries with him the guilt of his failures at the temple, and now he is on the outside for the first time. He's angered by the injustices he witnesses and confused by the feelings he has "below the navel" for Yang Yang. And he doesn't understand the politics that have led to the destruction of so many Shaolin temples. He may carry a legacy of his order with him, but Pang worries that he's just not a very good monk.

    Webcomic Pang, the Wandering Shaolin Monk kicks kung fu and comedy into the aftermath of the Ming DynastyIf all of this sounds packed with depressing melodrama ó don't fret. Pang has its sad and even shocking moments, but those are broken up with a fair share of levity. Costa uses both verbal humor (the comic practically kicks off with a round of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern) and comic visuals to keep the comedy in his action-comedy. And fans of extended wushu fight scenes will find plenty of that. Pang may be on the soft side, but he can hold his own in a fight, although his battles aren't always of the virtuous hero against the wicked villains.

    In fact, this isn't as simple as a tale of heroes and villains. The facts of the Southern Shaolin Temple and its destruction may be murky, but Pang is filled with genuine history, history that Pang doesn't fully understand but which the characters around him respond and react to. The Han Chinese are increasingly under the rule of the Manju, and while many chafe at being forbidden their traditions, there are those who welcome a new ruling party. And there are those ó even other Shaolin ó who just want to live their lives in peace, apart from politics. Pang has been caught up in a war that have little to do him or his quiet temple far removed from Fujian. But one side of that war has him in their sights and Pang will have to decide what is worth fighting for ó including whether he is worth fighting for.
    I haven't been in touch with Ben in a while, but I know the webcomic has still been plugging along.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  13. #13
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    Just heard from Ben

    He's got a Kickstarter campaign going for Pang, The Wandering Shaolin Monk Vol. 2.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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