Xu Liang / Ti Gong
“I can say that no one has ever published a cartoon to talk about Karl Marx’s theories in such a systematic way. We are the first,” said Xu Liang proudly.
Recently, the first season of the animated series “A Rambling Talk About Marx” created by the team of Xu completed the online update. The cartoon received 6 million views via various online platforms in China and abroad, with more than 300,000 clicks for the first three episodes on Douyin, known as TikTok abroad. The results left Xu very satisfied.
Graduated from Shanghai Film Art Academy with a degree in animation, Xu has been interested in this art form since childhood. He still remembers that his first teacher was “Movie Magic”, a TV show about Hollywood movie visuals that airs every Friday night.
“I was obsessed with it, and I knew this was what I wanted to do in the future,” Xu said. “So when I saw that SFAA had a major in animation, I determined that was the path I wanted to take.”
Animation combines comics and television production. Even though it was a relatively new industry, the employment rate was not encouraging, as only about 10% of its major’s students worked in this industry.
After graduation he worked for a TV program position, which included design and promotion, at Haha Teenage Channel, wrote his first book on software development and was involved in the design of the decoration. interior of the Chinese pavilion at the Expo in 2010. He then returned to the television industry.
The opportunity arose when a former classmate invited him to be part of an animation team. After the project, he established his own company in 2017 and transferred it to Jiading the following year.
“I had a lot of creative ideas that I wanted to bring to life,” Xu said. A childhood friend, Shi Yuanzhi, a teacher at Lanzhou University’s School of Marxism joined him and helped define the vision for the company.
Initially, they had two ideas: to discover Chinese culture through the eyes of foreigners and Marxism. In the end, they decided to draw a picture book on Marxism.
“Students in China know Marx very well, but just for the exams. His theories are not that simple. Also, we knew there were conflicts about the theory, so we wanted to let them hear our voices. , using a medium that is easy to understand, ”said Xu.
But all did not go well. There are a lot of people working in the animation industry but the profit margins are low. The investment circle is long, while the rate of return is low. But making money is not Xu’s goal. Instead, he wants to produce something that is good for the company.
In addition to drawing, the humanities, including history, are his hobby.
“As the old saying goes, by taking history as a mirror, I can see the rise and fall of a nation,” Xu said. “After discussing, we decided to explain the basic rules of Marxism, then go deeper, research and create topics to show cultural self-confidence and spread it by ourselves. You learn to how worth it to do such things. “
Xu also credits his father, who was a physics teacher, with conveying complicated theories to students in a simple and understandable way. So doing research was very important, because he had to make sure that what they were writing or drawing was correct.
Xu also consulted over 20 experts and university professors while researching Marx’s theories. The first episode compares Marx with Adam Smith, who received the most views.
“My idea was to combine the theories of the past and the new knowledge of today to tell stories to modern people. For example, when you explain monetary theory, of course everyone knows about dollars, books and euros. What about bitcoin? That way we make it more interesting for people, tell them why bitcoin is not a currency, “Xu said.
After determining the topics, they started on character designs and plot writing, and finished before this year’s Spring Festival. Then the 34-episode first season of the animated version was promoted, focusing on Marxist political economy.
Each episode lasts about 3 minutes, and the length of time is most suitable for people to digest the new knowledge according to research conducted by the Xu team.
“You can see an Apple ad in just 10 seconds, but you’re completely drawn to it. That’s what we want to achieve,” said Xu.
According to the plan, there will be four seasons of the Marx series. The second and third will cover the philosophies of Marx, and the last will focus on scientific socialism. There is a five year plan for cartoons and comics. An updated version 2.0 for the comics is stepping up a gear and the second season of the comics will be released by the end of this year.
“We don’t want to manufacture fast-moving consumer goods, but deep popularization of science and culture,” Xu said.
This year, Xu also cooperated with Fudan University to promote a haipai Animated comic strip (à la Shanghai), including one on Chen Wangdao (1891-1977), the first to translate “The Communist Manifesto” into Chinese.
Another highlight of Xu’s animation is the quick update. “The burning issues you are talking about now will go away in just a week and new issues will emerge. So we’re limiting each chapter to 20 pages, so that we can complete the update in just two weeks,” he said.
“A lot of middle school kids and those who are going to take the entrance exams to the master’s degree are so excited to watch the cartoon we made. Some say it really helps them get through the course. I also read some of the reviews. negative. I used to feel dislike, but now I consider them to improve season two. “
Recently, Xu attended activities for the third to sixth graders commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC which touched on the history of the CPC, “red” dots in Jiading and the new region of Pudong, where we come from and where we are. Go.
“We will play a short cartoon first to spark their interest, because interest is the best teacher,” Xu said.
It will continue to spread Chinese culture to foreigners, and the English version of Marx’s cartoon will be available on YouTube in the near future.