A tale of two cultures

Kevin Kung

Two friends launch a website to make light of differences between HK and Taiwan

Kevin Kung |

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Chris Tseng (right) and Juno Man, who have a comic book coming out next month, had an exhibition of their online comic art in Tseung Kwan O Plaza.
Taiwanese comic artist Chris Tseng Hsin-chieh partnered Hong Kong friend Juno Man Chun-lun to create a splash on Facebook with their talk-of-the-town page "Jiejie Talks Nonstop".

Tseng, 28, and Man, 27, are old friends and used to work for the same company. They started operating their own page after resigning from their jobs because of boredom in late September, and have received more than 131,000 likes in just two and a half months.

"We set up the page in September and started uploading content on the first of October," Tseng says. "I am the one responsible for the drawings; Juno is the mastermind of the content of the comic. At first, we did it only for fun, so the overwhelming response on Facebook was totally beyond our expectations."

So good is the response that Tseng and Man, who say they usually respond to messages, are organising their first fan gathering from 2.30 to 5.30pm on Saturday in Causeway Bay (check web page for exact location).

Visitors to the page will find comic artworks poking fun at the differences between life in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The interpretation and observation of those differences have tugged many people's heartstrings and are often shared by Facebook users in Hong Kong.

One recent example compared the taxi drivers in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Many Taiwanese taxi drivers have karaoke systems in their cabs so that passengers can sing along while they ride. In Hong Kong, taxi drivers have a mini-panel near the steering wheel - with many smartphones to accept appointments for themselves and other drivers.

"I think the most difficult part of doing a comic piece is to digest the issue and then find an appropriate way to make it funny," said Man.

Jiejie, one of Tseng's nicknames, and other characters are often shown with their noses bleeding in the comics. Tseng says it's because he used to have frequent nosebleeds during secondary school and university. He also enjoys another bit of satire.

"In my comics, I draw myself and other male characters with very muscular physiques ... I've seen many comics focusing on female figures, so my work is a parody of those drawings," said Tseng.

His passion may soon allow him to realise his childhood dream. His own comic book will be published next month - something that, as a boy in competitive Taiwan, he never thought possible.

"There are so many comic artists like me there, but in Hong Kong, I have an opportunity to make a dream come true," Tseng says. "We were approached by about 30 publishing companies who were interested in helping us. I'm so happy about that."

Ever since they quit their jobs, the two friends have been living off their savings. The page has sponsors, but it's hardly enough to live on, even with a partnership they've started with a website that has produced merchandise of Jiejie and the other characters.

"Even if we have good sales, one of us may need to get a full-time job to get a stable income in the near future," Man says. "But we have no regrets. We'll keep chasing our dreams and making people laugh with our page."

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