Sanmao: China's Tintin celebrates his 80th birthday

( CRI ) Updated: 2015-08-11 16:56:43

Sanmao: China's Tintin celebrates his 80th birthday

Young actor who played Sanmao in the 1996 version of TV series "The Wonderings of Sanmao". [File photo]

If asked to name the most famous cartoon character in their countries, Americans may nominate Mickey Mouse off the top of their heads, while Belgians will proudly present to you the adventurer Tintin.

In China, the title is attributed to Sanmao, a skinny boy with only three hairs on his head. Hailed as one of the world's longest-running comic characters, this tenacious orphan has captivated and inspired generations.

At 80, Sanmao, China's most popular comic strip hero, is not aging at all.

Skinny limbs, big head and three curly strands of hair crowning the top, he is brave and quick-witted as Tintin and acts as an ultimate survivor like Charlie Brown.

But unlike his western counterparts, Sanmao's tales are much darker, since they mirror some of the most turbulent moments of Chinese history in the 20th century.

Shao Jianqiu is a comic buff born in the 1980s.

"When I read the books as a kid, I could only memorize the scenes. But as I get older, I start to recognize the political connotation and irony of these comic strips. There are many elements of historical background embedded. In terms of the plot, drawing style, and the incisive reflection on the society, Sanmao series are truly master pieces. "

In 1935, Sanmao, literarily meaning "three hairs" in Chinese, was devised by cartoonist Zhang Leping in Shanghai. Though at that time, modern comics had already been popularized for ten years, it was rare to see a comic strip featuring a child as protagonist.

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