Saturday, July 13, 2013

Jack Chen in Life Magazine

January 17, 1938
“Young Chinese Artists Cartoon Their Country’s Conquest in Modern Manner”
link to the two-page pictorial

Return to the Middle Kingdom
One Family, Three Revolutionaries, and the Birth of Modern China
Yuan-tsung Chen
Sterling Publishing Company, 2008

...In the United States, Jack was immediately swept up in the same kind of propaganda activity as he had been in London. A devoted band of people in the Friends of China Society were playing the same role as the China Campaign Committee in England. Under their auspices, Jack put on his show in the ACA Galleries in New York.

The New York Times used one of the prints for a cover of its magazine, but the review Jack treasured most was printed in the New York Journal American, dated January 18, 1938. It was loud in its praises of his being a son worthy of his father. “Jack Chen is known to both Chinese and Japanese as ‘Bitter-Brush,’ because he has visually portrayed the fiery anti-Japanese sentiments his father portrayed in words before the ascendancy of General Chiang Kaishek’s nationalist government in China. Chen, in one of his drawings, pictures the Rising Sun of Japan as a huge skull, coming up over the horizon of China.”

Life Magazine sent round a reporter and gave Jack a four-page [sic] spread in early January 1938. When Jack saw this opulent treatment, he thought his financial problems would be solved for several months at least. Somewhat timidly he went to ask the magazine what the honorarium would be. The man Jack spoke to looked genuinely taken aback and pained.

“Why, this spread is worth thousands of dollars to you,” he said truthfully. “Besides, we gave you a terrific review. We compare your cartoons with those of Daniel Fitzpatrick.”

It was Jack’s turn to be so taken aback by the largeness of this sum that he never said  another word. Life Magazine did give him a good write-up. “The will to fight is symbolized by Jack Chen, in a peasant squatting beside his dead child, looking into a future in which there is no other course but to take up his gun and fight Japan. The emotion, the pathos and dignity of the figure suggest the best cartoons of Daniel R. Fitzpatrick of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.”

(Tomorrow: Jack Chen on China’s Militant Cartoons)

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