Participating in Global Affairs: The Chinese Cartoon Monthly Shanghai Puck
To situate Punch and the Asian versions of Punch in relation to each other serves to illustrate not only the multidirectional movement of images between Europe and Asia but also the asymmetrical realities and imaginaries of international politics reflected in these images and even, as Ritu Khanduri has put it, the ‘affective registers […] generated by seeing the images’. A detailed study of these images thus opens new ways of seeing and understanding international interactions at the times of the colonies. In previous chapters we have observed how both in Europe and in Asia, satirical journals followed a model of, in the words of Brian Maidment, outspoken ‘denunciation of social evils or political chicanery’, as was considered typical of Punch’s satire which, ‘both recognised and cathartically laughed away the fears and anxieties of its readers, reducing perceived dangers and threats to manageable proportions through the construction of a comic world turned upside down’. The aim of this chapter is to examine the adaptation of ‘Punch-like’ publications in early twentieth century China and to discuss how the Western genre satirical cartoon magazine in fact participated in the Chinese public sphere, wielding power over public issues, which derived largely from China’s peculiar ‘semi-colonised’ status. This chapter concentrates principally on ‘Shanghai Puck’, a cartoon monthly first published in 1918, which, as will be demonstrated below, is a typical product of multidirectional transcultural exchange. In exploring the visual world of ‘Shanghai Puck’ and its ‘models’, the chapter will deliberate the following questions: How did ‘Shanghai Puck’ relate to foreign satirical cartoon magazines? Here, the focus will not only be on the London Punch but the American Puck as a possible template as well. This chapter also investigates ‘Shanghai Puck’s’ global agency: What does the intervisuality observed on the pages of Chinese, Japanese and foreign satire magazines and pictorials tell us about the anxieties of the respective journals’ readers and the emotions triggered by such images? How were China and the Chinese, as well as foreigners, portrayed and transformed pictorially on the pages of the ‘Shanghai Puck’? What strategies did ‘Shanghai Puck’ apply when it came to raising China’s global position?