What is it to be young in modern China? It is an important question. Many predict that one day the country will rival and possibly eclipse the US and it will be their China by then. The truth for most young Chinese is that the future seems very unpredictable. There is the pressure from the grueling competition to secure employment and frustration from enduring an often ridiculous education system. Han Han captures the absurdity of the reality so cleverly in his writing, now finally turning up on Western bookshelves, but there has been little expression of this life in illustration;
Over a period of four years, Xie Peng created a series of intense and beautiful vignettes in reaction to his life in Shanghai. His work focused on the various journeys of a small simple character, significant only by the scarf wrapped around his neck. I was shown these in early 2011 with the opportunity to work with Xie Peng to shape a story for a graphic novel and I was immediately keen collaborate with him. For my part I had spent several years making a documentary film on Chinese youth and come to understand the anxiety and insecurity expressed in Xie Peng’s illustrations.
Darkness outside the Night is not a story about Chinese politics, it is simply about the struggle to build a life and work in a chaotic, surreal and cruelly unequal society of one and a half billion.
From NPR: Excerpted from Darkness Outside The Night by Duncan Jepson, illustrated by Xie Peng. Copyright 2013 by Duncan Jepson and Xie Peng. Excerpted by permission of Tabella Publishing LLP.