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Exploring Chinese Comics History & Top 10 Manhua [2024]

Ever wondered about the captivating tales hidden within the vibrant world of Chinese comics, or manhua? Picture yourself scrolling through an endless digital library, eager to uncover new adventures and characters. But with countless options at your fingertips, it’s easy to feel lost in the sea of choices. Fear not! In this article, we embark on a journey to demystify the realm of Chinese comics, guiding you through their rich history and introducing you to the top 10 must-read titles. Get ready to immerse yourself in the enchanting universe of Chinese comics, where ancient legends and modern adventures await!

Exploring Chinese Comics History & Top 10 Manhua

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The Rich History of Chinese Comics

Chinese comics, or manhua, boast a heritage that spans millennia. The roots of this captivating art form can be traced back to ancient times, where early forms of pictorial storytelling emerged. During the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE), artisans depicted scenes from everyday life and folklore through stone carvings and murals. However, it was during the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE) that Chinese comics began to take shape with the introduction of narrative scrolls known as Bianwen. These scrolls combined text with illustrations, providing early prototypes of sequential storytelling.

Flourishing During Dynastic Periods

As Chinese civilization flourished, so too did the art of comics. The invention of woodblock printing during the Song Dynasty (960–1279 CE) revolutionized the production of illustrated books, making them more accessible to a wider audience. Throughout the Ming (1368–1644 CE) and Qing (1644–1912 CE) dynasties, comic books became a popular form of entertainment, with stories ranging from historical epics to folk tales.

Influence of Traditional Themes and Artistic Styles

Traditional Chinese comics often revolved around themes deeply rooted in Chinese culture, such as mythology, folklore, martial arts, and historical legends. Artists employed intricate brushwork and delicate line work, drawing inspiration from traditional ink wash painting techniques to create visually stunning illustrations. Each stroke was imbued with meaning, capturing the essence of Chinese aesthetics and storytelling traditions.

Evolution in the Modern Era

The 20th century marked a period of significant transformation for Chinese comics. With the advent of modern printing techniques and the influence of Western comic books, artists began experimenting with new styles and genres. During the Republican era (1912–1949), pioneers like Zhang Leping and Feng Zikai introduced elements of humor, satire, and social commentary into their works, shaping the modern comic strip format.

Continuation into the Digital Age

In recent years, Chinese comics have continued to evolve in the digital age. The internet and digital publishing platforms have provided artists with new avenues for creativity and expression, enabling them to reach audiences worldwide. Today, Chinese comics encompass a diverse range of genres and styles, from traditional ink drawings to cutting-edge digital illustrations, reflecting the dynamic and ever-changing nature of the medium.

Top 10 Chinese Comics (Manhua)

Chinese comics, or manhua, offer a diverse range of genres and stories. Here are ten of the most notable manhua, each with unique themes and captivating narratives.

1. “Sanmao” (Three Hairs)

"Sanmao" (Three Hairs)

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Writer: Zhang Leping

About: “Sanmao” follows the adventures of a resourceful orphan boy living on the streets of Shanghai, capturing the struggles and triumphs of his daily life. Set against the backdrop of 1930s China, the comic explores themes of poverty, resilience, and the power of friendship. Through Sanmao’s escapades, readers are transported to a bygone era, where humor and heartache intertwine in equal measure.

2. “Feng Shen Ji” (The Legend and the Hero)

 "Feng Shen Ji" (The Legend and the Hero)

Genre: Fantasy, Action

Writer: Zheng Jian He

About: Set in a world where gods and humans coexist, “Feng Shen Ji” tells the epic tale of a young warrior’s journey to overthrow tyrannical gods and restore balance to the world. With breathtaking artwork and intricate world-building, the comic immerses readers in a rich tapestry of myth and magic. As the protagonist battles against formidable foes and grapples with his own destiny, “Feng Shen Ji” delivers a thrilling blend of action, adventure, and supernatural intrigue.

3. “The Ravages of Time”

"The Ravages of Time"

Genre: Historical, Action

Writer: Chen Mou

About: Based on the ancient Chinese novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” “The Ravages of Time” explores the intricacies of power, strategy, and betrayal during the tumultuous Three Kingdoms period. The comic offers a fresh perspective on this legendary era of Chinese history through its complex characters and intricate plot twists. As alliances shift and kingdoms collide, readers are drawn into a gripping saga of ambition and intrigue.

4. Yuan Zun (Dragon Prince Yuan)

Yuan Zun (Dragon Prince Yuan)

Genre: Action, Fantasy

Writer: Tian Can Tu Dou

About: In a world of cultivation, the Dragon Prince Yuan wields a brush to make his mark amidst chaos. The story pits dragons against pythons in a struggle for dominance. This manhua is filled with fantasy elements, epic battles, and the protagonist’s journey to harness his true potential and reshape his destiny.

5. Ingenuo


Genre: Comedy, Drama

Writer: Ye Ting-Xing

About: Ding Jiayu dreams of becoming a photographer and idolizes Yung Jo. When Yung’s company seeks a new photographer but doesn’t hire women, Ding disguises herself as a man to audition. Her talent earns her the job, but she faces constant challenges and scrutiny while maintaining her disguise. This manhua blends comedy and drama as Ding navigates her dream career and the complications of her deception.

6. “Soul Land” (Douluo Dalu)

"Soul Land" (Douluo Dalu)

Genre: Fantasy, Martial Arts

Writer: Tang Jia San Shao

About: In a world where martial arts and soul powers reign supreme, a young boy embarks on a journey to become the strongest soul master and protect his loved ones. “Soul Land” blends elements of fantasy, martial arts, and coming-of-age drama to create a captivating story of self-discovery and adventure. As the protagonist trains to unlock his true potential, readers are treated to exhilarating battles, heartfelt friendships, and moments of triumph and tragedy.

7. Mo Dao Zu Shi (The Master of Diabolism)

Mo Dao Zu Shi (The Master of Diabolism)

Genre: Action, Adventure

Writer: Mo Xiang Tong Xiu

About: This manhua revolves around the legend of the Yiling Patriarch, a figure feared even after his death. Known for practicing demonic cultivation and waging war against other cultivation sects, the Patriarch’s name strikes terror. The man behind the title, Wei Ying (Wuxian), returns from death in the body of a madman, threatening the cultivation world once again. The story is rich in supernatural elements and explores themes of power and redemption.

8. Xi Xing Ji (Journey to the West)

 Xi Xing Ji (Journey to the West)

Genre: Action, Adventure

Writer: Zhang Jian

About: Based on the classic novel Journey to the West, this martial arts manhua reveals that the famous journey was a conspiracy orchestrated by heaven. The plot kicks off with Sutra’s mysterious disappearance for over a decade, prompting a quest to prevent heaven from reclaiming it. The story is rich in historical context and martial arts action.

9. Biao Ren (Blades of the Guardians)

Biao Ren (Blades of the Guardians)

Genre: Action, Drama

Writer: Xu Xianzhe

About: Set during the late Sui Dynasty, this manhua follows Dao Ma, a warrior indebted to Mo, who once cared for him and his child. Dao Ma’s life takes a violent turn when he encounters a man-eating demon, leading him into a deadly conflict as the number of victims rises. The story is intense and action-packed, exploring themes of loyalty, survival, and the supernatural.

10. “Yongbi the Invincible”

"Yongbi the Invincible"

Genre: Action, Adventure

Writer: Ryu Ki-Woon

About: Set in ancient China, “Yongbi the Invincible” chronicles the adventures of a skilled swordsman as he battles powerful foes and uncovers the secrets of his past. With its dynamic action scenes, intricate plot twists, and colorful cast of characters, the comic offers a thrilling blend of martial arts, adventure, and mystery. As the protagonist embarks on a quest for justice and redemption, readers are drawn into a world of danger, intrigue, and high-stakes action.

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FAQs about Chinese Comics

Q1. How do Chinese comics differ from manga?

While both are popular in Asia, Chinese comics (manhua) often reflect Chinese culture and folklore, whereas manga is rooted in Japanese traditions and art styles.

Q2. Where can I read Chinese comics online?

You can read Chinese comics on platforms like Webcomics, Tapas, and Bilibili Comics, which offer a variety of genres in multiple languages.

Q3. Are Chinese comics available in English?

Yes, many Chinese comics are translated into English, making them accessible to a global audience through various online platforms and publishers.


In this article, we explored the fascinating history of Chinese comics, or manhua, and highlighted the top 10 must-read titles. We saw how Chinese comics have evolved from ancient scrolls to modern digital stories, offering a rich variety of adventures and characters. Whether you’re new to manhua or a long-time fan, this guide helps you find the best stories to start with. To further immerse yourself in Chinese culture, consider the WuKong Chinese Course. It’s perfect for kids aged 3-18, providing personalized lessons, flexible scheduling, and great resources. Learn authentic Chinese and dive deeper into the world of Chinese comics with WuKong!

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List of Top 10 Chinese Comics (Manhua)

Chinese ComicsGenreWriter
“Sanmao” (Three Hairs)Comedy, DramaZhang Leping
“Feng Shen Ji” (The Legend and the Hero)Fantasy, ActionZheng Jian He
“The Ravages of Time”Historical, ActionChen Mou
Yuan Zun (Dragon Prince Yuan)Action, FantasyTian Can Tu Dou
IngenuoComedy, DramaYe Ting-Xing
“Soul Land” (Douluo Dalu)Fantasy, Martial ArtsTang Jia San Shao
Mo Dao Zu Shi (The Master of Diabolism)Action, AdventureMo Xiang Tong Xiu
Xi Xing Ji (Journey to the West)Action, Adventure Zhang Jian
Biao Ren (Blades of the Guardians)Action, DramaXu Xianzhe

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