Skip to main content
Outdated Browser

For the best experience using our website, we recommend upgrading your browser to a newer version or switching to a supported browser.

More Information

Graphic Literature


What's it like to be young in modern China? This graphic story—about someone who's just arrived in a new city and wants, desperately, to fit in—provides some answers.
(Title page) No. 03 Fen Xiang Sharing
When I first came to the city
I watched the people fall in love
With everything they saw
(No text)
(No text)
(No text)
(No text)
Everyone with everything
(No text)
I wanted it too…I would have given anything. To eat it all at once
Every last crumb
(No text)
This was my door. Just mine
(No text)
But I could not believe in any of it…or any of them
For a moment though, nothing else had mattered
(No text)
(No text)

From Darkness outside the Night. November 2012 from Tabella Publishing LLP. By arrangement with the authors. All rights reserved.

Read Context Bios Explore Teaching Ideas

From Darkness outside the Night. November 2012 from Tabella Publishing LLP. By arrangement with the authors. All rights reserved.

Meet Xie Peng and Duncan Jepson
Meet Xie Peng and Duncan Jepson

Read Words Without Borders Campus’s interview with Xie Peng and Duncan Jepson.

Then, listen to a 4-minute NPR story about artist Xie Peng: “For China’s Youth, A Life of ‘Darkness Outside the Night’.”

A portrait of Chinese graphic artist Xie Peng.

Life and Times in Shanghai

To see what might make people fall in love with “everything they saw” in a city, look through the photo galleries Shanghai Shopping and Shanghai Life.

Young and Restless in China

Watch the documentary Young and Restless in China (trailer below).

China's Golden Generation

Read a New Yorker article profiling China’s “Golden Generation” of ultra-rich youth, and find out why China has seen “one of the most rapid emergences of wealth stratification in human history.”

In the Lap of Luxury

Read NY Magazine’s “Scenes from the Chinese Consumerist Revolution.” Don’t miss the infographic about slang for different kinds of people at the top.

Then, read about a survey on materialism in countries around the world, in which 71 percent of people in China said they gauge their success based on the things they own. 

Duncan Jepson

Duncan Jepson is an award-winning director, writer, and producer of five feature films, including Hope Without Future? (2009) and Follow Your Heart: China’s New Youth Movement (2007). He has also produced films and programs for Jackie Chan’s JCE Movies, National Geographic, and Discovery Channel, among others. His first novel, All the Flowers in Shanghai, was published by HarperCollins in 2011. His latest novel, Emperors Once More, the first in a crime series, was published in March 2014. He has written for the International Herald Tribune, the Daily Telegraph, and the South China Morning Post. Duncan is currently working on a new documentary feature, A Devil’s Gift, about the difficult future facing Hong Kong youth. A lawyer by profession, he lives in Hong Kong.

Xie Peng

The graphic artist Xie Peng was born in Beijing in 1976. He graduated from Beijing City University with a major in photography, then went on to study oil painting at the Sichuan Art Institute, literature at the Beijing Film Academy, and history at Beijing University. He has directed an animated film, and has been editor in chief of a magazine, an exhibition planner, a university professor, and an art director for a gaming company. His animated short film, The Future, was shown at the 4Flash Animated Movie Festival and won Best Film Award, Story Category. His work Kongju was exhibited by the Shanghai Museum of Art. He now works at a gaming company in Shanghai. Darkness outside the Night is his first graphic novel.

More from Duncan Jepson

Watch the trailer for Duncan Jepson’s film, Follow Your Heart: China’s New Youth Movement, and find out more on his website.

(Watch the video on YouTube.)

Learn “Why Asia is Obsessed with Graphic Novels and Comics” and “Why the West Fails to Understand Chinese Literature” in two essays from Duncan Jepson.

Finally, take a look at Jepson’s novel All the Flowers in Shanghaior visit Liberty Asia, an anti-slavery organization that he founded.

The Chinese Life of Luxury

Watch a trailer for the hugely successful Chinese blockbuster film Tiny Times 1.0, about four friends living the life of luxury in Shanghai, reminiscent of the materialism of city life portrayed in “Sharing.” Read more about the film and its “rampant materialism”, then read about the heated debate about the movie in China.

(Watch the video on YouTube.)

Then, look at photographs from artist Chen Wenling’s exhibit “God of Materialism” in Beijing (includes some representations of nudity.)

Chinese Hip Hop

Read about Chinese hip-hop, which alternately celebrates and “takes jabs at” consumer culture in China, in Guernica

A View from Shenzhen

View Weng Fen’s photograph, “Sitting On The Wall, Shenzhen,” below or on the website for the International Center of Photography

A long-haired youth sits on a wall with their back to the camera, looking out towards downtown Shenzhen.

More Spare Language*

Looking for other writing that does a lot in a few words? Try the ancient Chinese poems “Poem to the Tune ‘Pure Peace’” and  “Poems for Parting.”

* For Teaching Idea 2

To access these Teaching Ideas, please register or login to WWB-Campus.

From Darkness outside the Night. November 2012 from Tabella Publishing LLP. By arrangement with the authors. All rights reserved.

Read Next

A pile of sunflower seeds on a platform in front of a brown background
Three wooden boats float in a foggy green pool of water