Old Wang

I recently stumbled across this Chinese webcomic called Old Wang through Baidu. It’s an odd mix. It’s by Chinese people, about China, but in English. Not natural English. The home page makes these claims:

> The 1st English/Chinese Theme Cartoon Portal

> A Career Life Forum for the Commuting Tribe

A lot of the comics seem like an attempt at a Chinese Dilbert. But they’re not really funny, they’re just sort of… odd. And yet I found myself reading a few more of them. A representative example:


I really should be working on my schoolwork.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. What can I say? We Chinese have a lot to learn when it comes to humor! At least we are trying, hard.

    John, I started updating my blog again. I have added a few entries on my recent trip to China with my American students. This time I wrote my entries in Chinese. I’m sure you will find my perspective interesting, as a Chinese living in America for ten years.

  2. Shamu,

    I didn’t mean to imply that the Chinese don’t have a sense of humor. It’s hard for anyone to be funny in a foreign language. This is especially true for comic form. (I know. I’ve tried it. Not publicly, but I’ve tried it.)

  3. John,

    I read that comic that you sent me about smoking yesterday about six times and didn’t get it. However I do think you are making wise use of your free time.

  4. John,

    Sorry. That’s just my opinion. Yes, it’s hard to be funny in a foreign language, but I take it as a challenge. My dream is to be a standup comedian, in America. Do you know how to get there?

  5. Some of them are better than others. This one, for example, is classic (though given your other recent discoveries, John, who’s to say that he doesn’t propose when he gets home…) Now, if someone would explain this one to me, I’d appreciate it.

  6. I’m pretty sure you’ve covered this topic here before, but Chinese people don’t really seem to tell jokes. Puns and slapstick are basically the only forms of Chinese humor most westerners would find the slightest bit funny. All other “jokes” I’ve heard have been obvious, banal observations that for some reason cause everyone to erupt with laughter.

    For example, panel 5 of the above comic got audible laughter from three out of four people I showed it to, and all of them asked for the website address so they could read more of these comics. I’ve read about 20 of them so far and haven’t seen anything funnier than the average Family Circus, but I still keep reading with the hope of figuring out why the boss is black.

  7. Da Xiangchang Says: November 30, 2005 at 2:37 am

    I don’t know whether the comic is intentionally written in Chinglish or not, but it’s not funny at all. Maybe for the weird factor (a Chinese comic in English), it’s worthwhile, I don’t know. Forget being funny in a foreign language, it’s damn hard in one’s NATIVE language. I mean, Dilbert and The Far Side are very funny, and . . . and . . . well, that’s about it. Everything else, including Calvin & Hobbes, is only MILDLY funny.

  8. Da Xiangchang Says: November 30, 2005 at 2:45 am

    Wait, I forgot: Sergio Aragonés is the funniest cartoonist in America. He did the Groo the Wanderer comics, and regularly draws for Mad Magazine. He’s damn funny! Come to think of it, Mad Magazine has the funniest strips, esp. its movie parodies. I love how in all the old Schwarzenegger movies, whenever he speaks, half his dialogue balloon would be in German, like: “Jawohl, I vent mit my frau to the market.” Hilarious!

  9. CALVIN AND HOBBES IS CLASSIC!!!!!!!! not funny, wha? ever seen the snowman series??????

  10. Calvin and Hobbes is pretty good. Dilbert’s annoying (not humorous) nowadays. Berkeley Breathed’s stuff (Bloom Country, etc.) is hilarious. Boondocks is awesome. Brewster Rockit and Foxtrot are usually good for a smile. The Far Side was pretty good too.

    If you want to bust out laughing, though, take a look at “Get Your War On” (http://www.mnftiu.cc/mnftiu.cc/war.html)

    Also check out Red Meat:


  11. For once I was going to agree with DXC (on Old Wang being absolutely unfunny except for the CS comic, and on Spanish comics being at the top of the field), and then he had to go and call Calvin and Hobbes mediocre. Well, pigs will fly someday, I suppose.

  12. Yes, I think Calvin & Hobbes’ supremacy is obvious to all but the most deluded.

    While we’re talking about funny comics, there are quite a few that I like, but they may not appeal to those who have been too conditioned by uncreative, monotonous daily strips (read:Garfield).

    My favorite indie comics:

    1. Daily Dinosaur Comics (you have to read a few to get what’s going on with this one)
    2. The Perry Bible Fellowship (like the Far Side, yet not at all derivative)
    3. A Lesson is Learned but the Damage Is Irreversible (art meets comics)
  13. Da Xiangchang Says: December 1, 2005 at 3:16 am

    Recently, I went through Calvin And Hobbes’s snowman series:


    I have to admit, they’re awfully funny and witty. It’s not that I’m “deluded,” it’s rather I’m just ignorant of comic strips. Unlike, say, movies or novels, I just don’t know enough comics to make an intelligent assessment. 🙁

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