I Have a Question – The Well-Known Animation and Comic Entrepreneur Li Xuemin in Zhanjiang
Devoted to Building a Local Animation and Comic Culture Brand
Li Xuemin is a well-known entrepreneur in Zhanjiang and the chairman of Guangzhou Shengjia Culture Communication Co., Ltd. He is fond of the characteristic cultural attractions of Zhanjiang, including Xuwen Coral Sea, French Style Street, Techeng Island Mangroves and so on. He even painted these featured cultures in the popular science comic book “Zhanjiang Treasure Hunting: Kwangchowan Affections”, which was first launched at the 2017 South China Book Festival Zhanjiang Branch – Zhanjiang Book Fair, which attracted the attention of people of all walks of life.
In Li Xuemin’s view, communication with many people in the process of artistic creation is a challenging and learning-oriented attempt. It further spreads Zhanjiang’s local culture, making more people recognize it, which is also the driving force for his continuous efforts.
Science Student Devoted Himself to the Animation and Comic Field
Li Xuemin is a “post-60s” with his hometown in Anpuzhen of Lianjiang. His father was a primary school Chinese teacher and often told him stories, which have influenced Li Xuemin’s creation.
“I remember collecting sweet potatoes and listening to my father telling stories in my childhood. The other children in the village rushed to help us pick the sweet potatoes in order to listen to my father.” Recollecting the past, Li Xuemin said with a smile that when he was a child, his father often told him stories, including Romance of Three Kingdoms, the Water Margin, local legends of Zhanjiang and so on. The tiring farm work became interesting because of the wonderful stories told by his father.
In addition to listening to his father’s stories, Li Xuemin also loves watching puppet shows, including bai xi that was listed in the first batch of intangible cultural heritage in Zhanjiang in 2007. “When celebrating New Year or catching up with the temple fair in the village, we invite theatrical troupes outside to come and perform historical stories such as Heroes in Sui and Tang Dynasties. I have enjoyed watching these performances since I was a child, through which I have learned a lot about history and culture.” Li Xuemin said. His father’s influence and his experiences of watching puppet shows have accumulated him a lot of materials and laid him a good foundation for his creation of comics of Zhanjiang’s local culture.
In the 1980s, Li Xuemin was admitted to the department of Mechanical and Electronical Engineering of Harbin Institute of Technology. Then a part-time job in his junior year changed his career. “At that time, hoping to be exposed to society, I began a part-time job in a cultural advertising company, getting acquainted with the boss and becoming a good friend of him. As a result, I gradually entered the cultural industry, learned about animation and comics, and fell in love with writing and creation of comics.” From then on, Li Xuemin’s career is mostly related to comics.
Creating over 100 Works within 5 Years
After graduation, Li Xuemin successively worked for magazines such as “Times Comics” and “comicfans”. Later he founded Guangzhou Shengjia Culture Communication Co., Ltd., which is originally meant for serving animation and comic companies. As the content or the source of the animation and comic industry is unconstrained at that time, the initiative is completely in the hands of authors and bridging enterprises. In the past few years, the platforms they built and comic authors have progressed and achieved success. The survival of the Shengjia culture, however, has become more and more difficult.
“The investment of 6 million yuan was almost lost. Before the transformation of the company in November 2011, we only had 200000 yuan of cash flow. At this time, I began to reflect on our function as a bridge between corporations and authors. Then I thought about transforming and producing content, which is an important matter that must be dealt with.” Li said that when Shengjia culture took transformations in June 2011, it started projects relying on the cash flow of 200000 yuan. In the laymen’s eyes, he played a “business” role, but in the eyes of insiders, he was more of a comic author marketing agent, content decision maker, creative editor, publishing media overall operator, industrial chain trader and so on. “It is my strength, and also benefits from my ten years’ experience accumulated when serving Comicfans Co Ltd., including media operating, platform construction, personal relationships, etc. I can replace resources and can evaluate and forecast the profits and rewards of the market through my own operations.”
Over the past six years since the transformation of Shengjia culture, both the quality of the products and productivity have achieved a qualitative and quantitative breakthrough. In just one year, the number of manuscripts has grown from 100 per month in 2011 to 500 per month in 2012, and to 2000 manuscripts per month now. ” This is a leap forward. I have predicted it, but never expected it to be so fast.” Li said.
At the end of March in 2013, the company launched a new children’s comic book “Hilarious Paradise”. It is a humorous comic magazine intended for children of lower grades at elementary schools, featuring hilarious, relaxing, life-related and readable content. It creates the most relaxing extracurricular entertainment materials for readers with creative and hilarious ideas and wins the attention and praise of all walks of people, with its sales of each period exceeding 50000 copies.
At present, Shengjia Culture is a large-scale and influential comic creation agency in China, having published hundreds of comic works such as “Hilarious Paradise”, “Hilarious Hundred Thousand Whys”, “Enping Treasure Seeking” and so on. It is worth mentioning that Li Xuemin’s “Hilarious Rats” and “Hilarious Hundred Thousand Whys” series were respectively selected into 2013 and 2014 “Original Power” Chinese original animation and comic publishing & supporting programs.
Inheriting Local Cultures with the Brush
“I hope we can arouse the next generation’s favor for the local culture in a novel way, so that they can recover their roots under the impact of various foreign cultures, ” As a native of Zhanjiang, Li Xuemin felt that he had an obligation to do more for his hometown. To inherit and promote the culture of Lui Cheu Peninsula with a long history and deep roots, he gradually began creating comics featuring Zhanjiang’s local culture.
In 2013, Li Xuemin’s team created a comic book telling the historical changes of Leizhou – “Stone Dog’s Adventures”, which was officially published nationwide. A local manga creative book featuring the local history and culture of Zhanjiang, it tells the story of the magical Leizhou stone dog crossing time and space, guiding the youth to roam the ancient and modern legends, experiencing touching stories in the history of Zhanjiang. The whole set of the books describe the historical and cultural stories of Lui Cheu Peninsula with the most popular comics. It is a major attempt in culture & popular science education and original art.
The new book “Treasure Seeking in Zhanjiang: Kwangchowan Affections” introduces places like Zhanjiang French-style street, Techeng Island, Jizhao Bay and other local cultures. It is a functional, intellectual and cultural science popularization, as well as a popular science comic book with historical inheritance and cultural education. Through a large number of historical documents and precious cultural relics pictures, it presents Zhanjiang’s unique customs, historical folk customs and folktales, popularizing scientific and cultural knowledge in a way that combines education and entertainment.
Li Xuemin admits that he has done a lot of cartoons centering on entertainment without paying much attention to cultural connotations. But he later realized that it is not meaningful to have mere fun, as the so-called “trends” are like a gust of wind that won’t last long. Therefore, more emphasis is now placed on the creation of content, especially the local culture of Zhanjiang as the cultural core of comic books. Children love to learn and understand local culture in this way, which helps pass on the knowledge to the next generation.
“In this era, the content matters most. We must produce more meaningful content.” Li Xuemin said that the local culture of Zhanjiang is a very meaningful content. He hopes to inherit and spread local culture through comic books, thus promoting the integration and development of Zhanjiang animation industry and tourist culture industry.
At present, Shengjia Culture Company has been stationed in Zhanjiang, and has established an animation and cultural tourism chain integration platform, dedicated to the layout of creative Man Valley (IP development), Man Valley Paradise (anime tourism), Comic Guests excellent products, Comic Guests Workshop (Industrial New City). This industrial chain constantly promotes the brand of Zhanjiang’s animation and comic culture.
A Conversation with Li Xuemin
Reporter: Hello President Li, may you expose us to some knowledge of animation and comics, please?
Li Xuemin: At present, Chinese are familiar with the term “animation and comics”. In addition to being the mass media for children’s entertainment, animation and comics upgrade and has multiple functions like educating children and circulating information.
In recent years, with the discovery and development of historical and ancient cultural heritages across the country, more and more animation and comic practitioners have begun to realize that cultural content can be made into animation, then being conversed and performed through animated lens language, so that TV viewers and comic readers can understand the product content and obtain information more directly and conveniently. As a result, animation and comics become a service enterprise and a brand new marketing means to inherit culture and interpret the brands.
Reporter: As is learned, your company used to do integrated marketing of animation and comic resources, later transforming to content production and original commercial comics customization. Why do you transform?
Li Xuemin: As I have personally served the ComicFans Culture, responsible for introducing high-end comic talents at that time, and also one of the founders of the comics “Golden Dragon Award”, I have close relationships, interaction and high-level strategic co-operations with some well-known domestic comic authors and publishers, including the best domestic animation and comics publishers.
At that time, the main business of the company was also platform construction and resource interactive marketing. Later on, I found that, in the animation industry, we must produce content in addition to marketing. As “content matters most”, only by mastering the source of the product, that is, the content supply, can we dominate the market in the end.
Reporter: How is the animation and comic works compatible with the local culture?
Li: The most important for the combination of local culture and animation and comic works is the in-depth understanding of culture. In fact, no matter what culture, once connected with the popular entertainment industry of animation and comics, it definitely forms a style. In addition, the handling of details is particularly important, especially in the context of cultural connections. To stand scrutiny, it is necessary for animation and comic works to respect historical facts and literary common sense.
In the process of combing local culture and animation and comic works, Zhanjiang art works should pay attention to the integration of history and modernity, inheriting the long history and culture as well as presenting characteristics of the times, integrating content and form, which is really important.
Reporter: What is the prospect of Zhanjiang’s cultural tourism industry?
Li Xuemin: Zhanjiang has a profound cultural heritage. At present, it is striving to build a central city around the Beibu Gulf. The cultural tourism industry has broad prospects. Through developing local cultural content products such as Zhanjiang Treasure Hunting and Stone Dog Adventures, Zhanjiang injects cultural souls into the development of local cultural tourism industry. Also, it introduces high-end talents, technology, information and products into the industry, integrating high-quality brands and partner resources of the cultural tourism industry chain, investing, developing and operating more Zhanjiang local cultural tourism industry projects, to create the Beibu Gulf animation and cultural tourism industry CBD headquarter base, to promote the upgrading of Zhanjiang cultural tourism projects.
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