Saturday, October 16, 2021

Asiapac Books' Reunion: Timeless Love and Art in Return of the Condor Heroes Exhibition

Back in 1995, Chinese manhua paperbacks of reknown novelist Louis Cha (Jin Yong)'s wuxia tale, RETURN OF THE CONDOR HEROES, was illustrated by local award-winning artist Wee Tian Beng. The comic books, published in 18 volumes, have been out of print for more than two decades. So, it is with much excitement that Asiapac Books has launched the graphic novel series compiled into one complete omnibus-hardback boxset in two language versions - simplified Chinese and English!

To commemorate the launch of the RETURN OF THE CONDOR HEROES 2021 Collector's Edition Comic Book Boxset, an exhibition was held at the zall bookstore, a Chinese language book shop located at Wheelock Place. The Reunion: Timeless Love and Art in Return of the Condor Heroes exhibition wraps up tomorrow (17 October 2021), so it will be your last chance to get to know, or in the case of long time fans, to re-acquaint yourself with the epic love story of Yang Guo and Dragon Girl!

Red Dot Diva has yet to read the manhua, but she is familiar with the story of RETURN OF THE CONDOR HEROES. Through the years, the RETURN OF THE CONDOR HEROES novel has been adapted in several TV shows and movies. Even Mediacorp has produced its own version in the 1990s that starred now real life celebrity couple Christopher Lee and Fann Wong. That said, the TV series version that Red Dot Diva is most familiar with is the 1983 TVB HK serial which casted Andy Lau as Yang Guo and Idy Chan as Xiao Long Nu (Dragon Girl).

Partially due to a wave of nostalgia, she dropped by the small exhibition to pay tribute to the late Louis Cha's classic, admire veteran artist Wee Tian Beng's works, and to have a look at the packaged collectors' boxset. It was also a chance to visit the new two-story zall bookstore. This is the China-based company's first overseas branch. In the digital age and during a pandemic, it is so heartening to see that the consumer market for printed books is still alive.

If you are unable to make it to the exhibition before it closes, here are some photos.

The artwork of Wee Tian Beng, which were of hand-drawn and traditionally inked.

A cherished framed piece of calligraphy by Louis Cha (Jin Yong) is also on display. The title calligraphy of the RETURN OF THE CONDOR HEROES books are by noted local calligrapher and poet Pan Shou, and they are also on display in the exhibition.

Visitors can view and flip through sample copies of the RETURN OF THE CONDOR HEROES trade paperback manhua published in various languages including Thai, Vietnamese and Korean.

Remember the Jade Bees? They are Xiao Long Nu's weapons, and can be instructed to attack enemies when she plays the guqin. She also tattooed messages on them so that after 16 years, she was able to reunite with her lover Yang Guo. Visitors have written their own special love messages on these paper Jade Bees, and hang them on a wall. Red Dot Diva wrote one too!

Red Dot Diva had a bit of fun at the interactive wall pretending to be a kick-ass martial arts hero. How? What do you think? Can make it or not? Maybe more like wuxia villain?

There are only 1,000 sets (500 for each language version) of this beautifully packaged special edition boxset. The boxset is priced at SGD 288, with six hardcover volumes of the entire story of RETURN OF THE CONDOR HEROES. Each set will have its own unique serial number, as well as Wee Tian Beng's actual autograph on a bookplate. So, if you are fan, do not miss buying a copy!

Want to drop by before the exhibition ends? Here are the details:

Exhibition ends 17 Oct 2021
Opening hours: 11 AM to 9:30 PM
Location: 卓爾书店 the zall bookstore, 501 Orchard Road, #01-02/#02-18 Wheelock Place

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