The Comics Corral

The Comic Life of Juan Heskin


Comic World at Chinese Theater Scene: Chaoyang District

Chaoyang District Nightlife

Just previously, I was explaining my fantastic experience at the Tiandi Theatre in Beijing. And how it connected me to the ancient comics of the “Manhua”.. and in general, made me fell in love with Chinese culture & life style. This really was a sort of a transition moment for me, and enforced my belief that I must travel and experience the world instead of staying home to read comics. With all my respect towards comic collectors, I realised that there is just more to this world.. and it is at it’s best when connected with the comic world. Now I was in love, traveling in the fascinating world of China.. getting stuck in Beijing with the huge theater scene that is available.

I was determined to go further and then it happened that I heard of another Acrobatic show in the city, which would be even better. Naturally, I decided to go for it and see what it would be like in comparison. This famous amongst the Chinese, yet hidden gem of a flying acrobatic show is hosted at the prestegious Chaoyang Theater venue, named by the Chaoyang District where it is located. Not far from the city center buzz, this “business district” is hiding this particular theater within the confinements of large and modern buildings. It is much like entering the world of Clark Kent, where only superman can overcome the challenges of these skyscrapers. Once you arrive to the theater, there is a feel of uneasy in the air. Everyone seems ancitous to get to see the show that people have planned to see for perhaps years, especially when the Chinese audience is concerned.

This is now Smallville thought, as soon you realise that this is something like straight from a Manhua comic, or an old Movie from China. Now it was the second time for Beijing to show me what it was capable of. The results, were nothing less than absolutely stunned. While Tiandi Theatre had hosted a venue with much to my satisfaction gave me a very up and close look into their acrobatics. This time, it was the large scale and grand performance that so many talk about but few have really witnessed.

While watching the death defying & fantastic feats, I recalled a certain acrobatic comic book. It was the “Cirque Du Soleil” by Marvel Comics that I had read back in 2012. It was a special custom edition distributed at the Comic Con. It was perhaps, my first fascination towards acrobatic performance, ever. Without much realising, perhaps it was this very experience that led me to venture into the magical Chaoyang Theater, as well as the one in Tiandi. Which also concluded to an even deeper thinking and understanding about my comic past. You see, even thought I wanted to leave most of the corrall past behind me, it was right within me all that time. Making huge influences on my decision making, my future and everything that happened around me. It was something I needed to accept and make the most out of.. connecting my new life with this past was probably one of the greatest things that happened to me in my life. Isn’t that great I thought.. and while realising this, I was watching the amazing Beijing Acrobatic Troupe… better than any western circus performance could ever be. It was a true pleasure and little did I know that the Chinese theater and variety art adventures would only continue in the next chapter of my travels.

While words are often enough, I advice you to check out the Chaoyang Theater trailer. You can find it from the Show Beijing YouTube channel. They have other great trailers too that might be worth checking out if you want to visit Beijing. Have fun!

Juan Heskin

No Comments |

Collecting Comic Books

Captain Marvel

The world of comic book collecting is surely an interesting one, and it seems to have no end in sight in terms of growth. While it’s not the most trendy of hobbies on this world, surely there are many activities that have served as huge promotion for it. For many it all starts from an innocent purchase from the local book shop, until one discovers the depths of a used book store. These places can become very addictive as one discovers the abundance of old comics that are just waiting for their wealthy owners to pick them up, take them home and yes, shelf them. While it may seem strange for some, just wait until you hear how the first edition of marvel comics sold for $350,000, which is still not even the tip of the iceberg.

So obviously there have been many for do it not just for shelfing, but for the purpose of profit. Buying and selling comics for economic purposes is totally common, and one can even get rich from it. But where it all started, was the superhero scene without a doubt. Characters such as superman, batman and captain marvel have been as famous as the presidents of the united states, so no wonder they became great targets of the American dominated comic industry. But Manga did take the longest straw in the end perhaps, with more comic books coming out than anywhere else in the world.

One secret to the success of comics and their collecting, is the adult fan crowd. Which can be said to be the majority, just as in the game industry which has changed a lot not only in content but the consumers themselves. Probably the biggest event in the world that keeps on growing it’s tradition and fan base, is the Comic-Con International where people from all over the world, and all walks of life get together over one great passion. Held in San Diego, I have been active there for quite a few years, althought in the latter part of my career as a comic book collector did see a definite decline in participation. But anyone who is really interested, for just the collecting or even for business it is an event that has to be visited to really understand the massive scale, it’s possiblities and capabilities of the scene.

Get collecting and have fun!

Juan Heskin

PS. More about the Chinese scene and the comic world there soon.

No Comments |

More About Manhua Comics

Chinese Mad Comic

After seeing the acrobatics show, I was both more and more interested in Manhua as well as the Chinese ancient acrobatics. First I needed to learn how to pronounce “Manhua”, as I already had learned how to say “Manga” which was dead easy of course. In the Chinese language you have what is called tones, which makes pronounciation a lot more trickier than in Chinese. In simplified Chinese “漫画”, is pronounced like Mànhuà. The best success I have had so far, is to just try and say it in a way that sounds a little bit funny.. like having tones without really knowing the exact and correct ones. Someone did say that as a learning trick it’s better to forget about tones, or at least not to focus on them too much. In this way you can kind of get a natural feeling to the words and it’s as if with practice, you learn how to say the words by themselves.

All this is a great example of just how deep you can go with things in China, even with the simple word for comics. Well of course, I like a bit of a challenge and, to study the etymology of words. I found out that the word actually means “impromptu sketches” which was later introduced back to the modern Chinese culture.

It all started with pottery between 5000 to 3000 B.C. Also it was a popular thing in the Ming Dynasty. It’s really funny to think about it, how drawings of peacocks have transformed into the modern form of comics that is prevalent in China. The real boom started in the 19th, and 20th centuries. About the time when acrobatics came about and change the whole Manhua comics scene. The other favorite old form of Chinese comics has to be Lianhuanhua, which was popular in Shanghai during the 1920s. It’s really where the modernity of it all started off. But nothing comes without a price of course, because they were used as a political tool and to spread propaganda. Actually I would like to say that it kind of depicts the power of comics. While nowadays some people even ridicule the paint and the brush, it remains just as powerful as in the ancient times. Even with added benefits, like for example the power the simple lack of these restrictions and what is now known as freedom as speech.

Juan H.

No Comments |

Chinese Works of Manhua and Tiandi Theatre Acrobatics

The Comic Tiandi Theater
To fall in love with a comic, requires something personal. An experience or connection with something that feels close and real. As a comic medium in itself, with characters that are often easy to relate to and connect with it’s no wonder that one starts seeking these kinds of “up & close” experiences. For me, I fell in love with the Chinese Manhua comics from an experience of traveling in China. This ancient form of drawing cartoon-like figures, originates from the 18th-century China. But for some reason, the form of this “literati painting”, became later hugely popular in Japan. Where it took the form which is very familiar to you all, of course “Manga”. While I love Japanese comics, going deep into the world of the Chinese and more ancient equivalent was just a fascinating trip full of discovery.

Soon it became obvious, that all of those people who dedicated their lives to drawing comics were true artists that came from many walks of life. In fact, the drawings were something very real and depicted anything from ordinary life style to fabulous events in time and space. Interestingly enough, it was acrobatics that lead me to this discovery where I managed to witness a spectacle that had bloomed in comic form previously. While modern comics might have forgotten Tiandi Theatre in Beijing, I and those who embrace the mystical past of China have and will not.

These comics were not carved in stone as some of the very oldest works of Manhua. Instead, acrobatics was an artform that was very dear to the many emperors that had ruled the land. While not getting enough from the live performing acts, the events were drawn so that they could be memorized and never forgotten. What made Tiandi a special theatre in the city, was it’s importance as entertainment to the emperor himself. While the original crew is surely no longer alive, the spirit of variety shows has been kept alive and well in this hugely popular acrobatic theatre. How I managed to connect the two dots, between Manhua and the acrobatic venue was simply pure luck. I love to talk with locals and get to know what their insight of the city consists. This time I was hinted to a comic that fantasised about this very show. Instantly it made the experience much well worth it and grabed my full attention. Not just in acrobatics and other performing arts in China, but especially in Comics as well. That’s why I wanted to dedicate a few posts to the new interest in my comical life, which is the People’s Republic of China. A controversial but interesting place to hang and explore.

For those interested in the Tiandi Theater venue, please check out their official website above. You can also just go directly to the show and hope they have tickets left. Their address is 10 Dongzhimen South Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China. With daily shows at 19:15 and discount ticket booking available from their website, there is just no reason to miss out on it. As I am in China for quite some time, I will also cover some other performing theaters in Beijing, perhaps in the rest of China as well.

Hope you like the new personal feel of my blog btw. Catch you later, & Nihao!

1 Comment |

Calvin & Where I Started with Comics

Calvin & Hobbes

I think there are many paths one can take to start exploring the world of cartoons. But what is common to all, is the young age where one starts. Which is why plenty enough people confuse them with something that’s only ment for kids. Of course, there are plenty of people who have gone past this hard headed notion. But one issue that has an influence on people and their later lives with comics is without a doubt their childhood. That memorable and important time, where parents misunderstand you and comics walk the path with you. Making even going to the dentist fun and exciting, just to get a good opportunity to catch on the latest Donal Duck cartoons for example.

It could be said, that the type of comics even kids choose tell something about their personality at an early age. On one aspect it helps to even shape their personalities, on the other side of things, there are always reasons why some children prefer other comics. Some decitions which even come from their parents.

Personally, for me one of the biggest influences with comics was Calvin & Hobbes. I was just recently trying to find a good documentary about the topic, but unfortunately could not find one. With too much information about the fans and what they thought. I am more interested in the story, because the personal story of a fan is very personal and while you can relate, it’s different for everyone.

But that was the starting point for me, when I understood that there is something deaper and meaningful about cartoons than Donald Duck. Even though, even there you can find deeper philosophical meaning about it. Nevertheless, it’s really an issue that needs to be settled with some common sense. I would say, that at the end of the day it’s all about those emotions that you can always look back and connect with. They are not only the starting point, but company to walk with you throughout life.

Let’s read something meaningful and promote those comics that make you think and not just rot your brain guys. At least, that is the kind of awareness I hope to bring about into the industry that I love so much. Thanks my friends!

Juan Heskin

No Comments |

Profound Expression Through Comics

Comic Art

I have been interested in comics as a phenomen far more interesting than TV for example. The concept is much more simple and touches you in a way that a more complicated, fast paced medium could ever do. It is a simple fact, that when things that we reflect upon are simplistic it’s much easier to realted to them. As a kid, you don’t really think about it and just enjoy the thrill and ride that comic books give you.

As an adult, you kind of have to look deeper into the concept of comics and find out the rich world in a more aware manner. Otherwise you are just another comic book looser who never grew up and still phantasizes about being Super Man or whatever-X. Let’s face it, there are those “non-grown ups” that are just there at the same level of a child. With nothing wrong at the medium of course, it’s just a time to grow up a little in my opinion and bring better awareness to something that’s authentic and helps people to express profound thought.

At best, that is what comics produce. A deep connection between the author, writer and the reader. You could explain the most advanced mathematical formula through such drawings, and there would be nothing wrong with it because you know that it will be extremely helpful for those people who engage in it. What you consider to be your best novel for example, imagine that in comics form. Wouldn’t that be great and besides giving that needed depth in reading, there is a sense of lightness and fun that makes the experience even better.

It has been said several times, that if you cant explain what you understood to a child, then you don’t understand it yourself either. Producing information in comic form is a great way to prove that, with the added bonus of deep understanding. Great stuff as always!

Juan Heskin

No Comments |

Where to Chat with Fellow Comic Collectors?

Comic Exchange Shop

I know a lot of you loved the forums and built your homes there.. now that it’s gone, and even the backups are no longer there. It’s really not the right time to cry about it, instead we should look towards the bright future. A lot of comic collectors are known for loving to chat with others and other such social happenings. I guess you could say that we are a bunch of social creatures, besides comics that’s really what is most important to us.

That is why I wanted people who are still active on the “chatting” front to leave a comment and let us know of places where people could go and get there discussion needs fulfilled. While I will be continuing with the blog and provoking debate on occation, obviously these kinds of forums and such are still badly needed. I just kind of dropped out of the game after some years and have to admit to not having any idea where comic lovers are today!

So don’t hide, but instead point us to the right direction. I might even consider registering myself to one of these places if a good one exists. But I wont be as engaged as before, there is just no way in my busy “adult” life. Leave a comment, thanks guys!

Love your comics, love yourself,
Juan Heskin

1 Comment |

Comic Book Dealing, Traveling!

Comic Reading

I often compared selling comic books with a drug deal. Because some of these books are just so temptive and make your mouth drool. Often it’s good to find a balance with comic book use, hence rectreational use at it’s best. I used to be one of those addicts, checking out new coming book releases every morning as soon as I woke up. In fact, those very comics came to my dreams and while I did have loads of fun in the process. There was just something else to life than just comics, I guess that is one of the big things that contributed to the shutdown of the forum over here. I wanted to have my dreams back and start a new life, of comic magnitude.

Yes, living a life that was epic in the way of absorbing all that great stuff made me want to my own epic episodes. Not by transforming into a super hero, but by venture out to exiting stuff in life. Travel has been a close friend of mine on this quest.. and in the mean while I have met a lot of awesome comic book dealers from around the world. It’s been a thrilling ride and a dream of any comic book fan. Instead of just sticking your nose into those books, I went out and put my nose into what is called “fresh air”.

I know it might sound like a strange thing to some. But that’s my new thrive in life.. everyone has to have one, right? I call out to all book dealers, to find another hobby and never loose your pation either. Balance man, that’s what a comic life is all about.

Oh my my,
Juan Heskin

1 Comment |

Comics Corral Forums Has Closed But..

Comic Book Shelf

Probably you have heard the news since the site was down for quite a while. But there is nothing to worry about, since the comics corral will be restored to a blog state which covers the comic life of Juan Heskin. The author of the blog in question. You can meet the Author or read on if you are already familiar with me. I’ve been on the web since 2005 and managed to get to gether a huge community of comic lovers. Turned out that it was much more than comics, it was about a life style and a meeting of like minded people. Then things started to get rocky after five years, with many of us just getting older and couldn’t keep up with the demands of running a server.

Things kind of just slipped through our hands, and while it was great fun in the making. Now, things have changed and become more.. well relaxed. While the need to be such a fanatic is no longer, there still is a lingering need to connect with the old community. That is why I decided to start up this blog to let you guys know what’s happening in my life. Comics are still a big part of my life, but there is more to it than that now.

Hope this little revival process will be fruitful and we can remember the old days with good vibes!

Yours sincerely,
Juan Heskin

1 Comment |