Friday 17 March 2017

Comics in Hong Kong

I was hosted on this trip by the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

On my final day in Hong Kong, I had most of the day free before I needed to head to the airport. I'd researched all the stories I was commissioned to write, so the question was: what to do?

First up, I needed coffee, so I headed to Espresso Alchemy in Quarry Bay (4 Hoi Wan St). I'd been tipped off to this small coffee chain by the day before, and had let them know I'd be dropping by.

Even so, I was surprised to discover its owner had an Aussie accent. I had a coffee with Ambrose Law, the owner, who was brought up in Australia and has done well building up his roastery and cafes in Hong Kong:

Being suitable caffeinated (and I liked Espresso Alchemy's coffee, they know what they're doing there), I headed west via Hong Kong's crazy double-decker trams to Wan Chai.

I'd remembered this was where I'd find Comix Home Base, a place I'd stumbled across earlier in my research.

As a comic book fan, this place was always going to be of interest. Devoted to both traditional comic books and animation, it's a small arts hub arranged around a light-filled courtyard.

The architecture is of more than passing interest, because the complex was created within the facades of ten tenement houses which were built a century ago, between 1916 and 1922.

Constructed under British colonial rule, the houses had an interesting combination of Chinese and western architectural features, such as Chinese tiled roofs and French doors. Some of this original style can be seen by crossing a walkbridge from the main block to the facades on the opposite side:

Inside the main building there are various rooms used for exhibitions and conferences, not all of them open to the general public. However, there are always anime movies playing, which you're welcome to sit down and enjoy:

The other great facility for visitors is the Comix Salon, down a passage from the viewing area:

This marvellous haven is a small reading room, its shelves stacked with comic books from around the world - Asia, Europe, North America:

I picked out a few collections of my favourite characters (I'm a DC guy from way back, not Marvel) and settled down for a read.

On the way out I passed Old Master Q, a character created by Hong Kong artist Alfonso Wong under the pen name Wong Chak:

The character first appeared in print in 1962, and his humorous adventures acted as a medium by which to indirectly explore political and social issues. The character stayed popular throughout the artist's life, which only ended recently; he passed away on 1 January 2017.

So that was Comix Home Base - a rest stop and an education all in one. If you're a comic book or animation fan, I recommend it when you visit Hong Kong.

Comix Home Base is located at 7 Mallory St, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, China. Open 10am-8pm daily (Comix Salon noon-8pm, closed Monday). More details at its website.

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