Final chapter of Storm Riders to be shown in Hong Kong exhibition
Author of 25-year-old series says industry losing battle against piracy
What was meant to be a glorious finale for Hong Kong comic classic Storm Riders could be a depressing curtain call for industry in the city.
Ma Wing-shing, author of Storm Riders, was inspired to unveil the final chapter of the 25-year-old series in an exhibition of the original drawings instead of publishing in print, as rampant online piracy continues to hurt the industry to an almost irreparable extent.
"One reason to do this exhibition is fans must come to see it instead of reading [pirated copies] online for free," Ma said yesterday, prior to the opening at Comix Home Base in Wan Chai.
Only fans who bought the previous issue of the comic will get an invitation to the exhibition.
"The industry is not developing properly," Ma said. "The new media has broken all the rules. In the past, good work brought good sales but now, [that is] not necessarily [so].
"Popularity online does not equate to generating income but artists, particularly budding artists, have to survive and publishers need return for their investment. It's almost impossible to keep new artists in the industry."
But the grim realities facing the industry aside, Ma said the true reason for staging the exhibition was for fans to treasure their memories in their hearts rather than just a hard copy.
Storm Riders, also known as Wind and Cloud in Chinese, tells the adventures of legendary fighters Nip Fung (Wind) and Bou Ging-wan (Cloud) in a fictional martial arts underworld.
Ma first penned the series in 1989 when he was in his 20s. The series became a success and was praised for its artistic merits.
Characters from the series have become household names, not just in Hong Kong but across the region.
The series has been adapted into films, animation and, most recently, a sell-out dance performance staged by the Hong Kong Dance Company.
"Great sales or not doesn't matter now. I want fans to see the final chapter in their original drawings because the texture is very different from that in print," Ma said.
The exhibition features 100 drawings, including 70 from the final chapter as well as drawings and posters from the very first issue of Storm Riders.
The show will also exhibit Ma's rare works in ink art - he specially painted the very last scenes of Storm Riders in ink.
"The medium of ink art matches the vibe of the final moments, as ink art is softer and it gives fans space for imagination," he said, adding that he planned to take a break before getting himself into new projects.
He said he hoped to create more works in ink art, but only under conditions where he was not working against the clock.
"Rushing for publications and meeting deadlines has stopped me from enjoy painting and drawing," Ma said. "Now I want to take my time and enjoy every single moment of it."
The exhibition will run until February 1.