Quick on the draw

Updated: 2012-02-09 11:17

By Yang Wanli and Li Yingqing (China Daily)

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KUNMING - In his hand-drawn books, Li Kunwu travels across China - and through its history - as a sparsely built, active man with slim arms and legs wearing a cap with a flat circular top.

And through his series of comics, Chinese and foreign readers are getting a clearer understanding of the country.

"When I was young, I used to leave a brief note to my mother with my own cartoon image instead of words," the 57-year-old said.

"One morning I drew a little boy holding a bowl and my mom understood that I went out for breakfast."

He has parlayed that love of drawing into numerous books about China. One of them, Une vie chinoise 2: Le temps du parti, which he did in collaboration with French writer P. Otie, took home a couple of awards in France in 2010.

The book is part of his three-volume series The Life of a Chinese, which describes China's society through his eyes as he grows from boy to man.

In October 2011 he went to Paris for a book signing, where the series sold 300 sets in one morning. It is published in five languages, including French, German and Korean, and the English edition may be released in May.

At the signing, many people asked Li about the differences between the China in their minds and the China in his books.

"They believed that China was poor and the country's tremendous development confused them a lot. I felt the responsibility to tell them about the real China," he said.

Quick on the draw 

Cartoonist Li Kunwu checks part of the sixth volume of Une vie chinoise in his studio in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province. Yang Wanli / China Daily

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