Renowned novelist Louis Cha Leung Yung (better known by his pen name Jin Yong) passed away on October 30, 2018 at the age of 94. According to Wikipedia, he was the best selling Chinese author by the time of his death. More than 100 million of his books have been sold worldwide, not including unknown copies of pirated versions. News of Jin Yong brought me back to the time when I was an illustrator for the Young Companion magazine in Hong Kong in the 1980s.
An issue of the Young Companion art magazine featured an interview with Jin Yong and I was asked to do an illustration for the cover. I looked over the photo of Jin Yong and thought a little commonplace so I made a line drawing instead. The editor-in-chief and art editor both loved the result and it became one of the unique covers of Young Companion.
The Young Companion was a very famous art magazine in Shanghai during the 1930’s and 1940’s. The art magazine was revived by the heir in Hong Kong during the early 1980’s. At the recommendation of the magazine’s art editor Chen Xiuming, the editor-in-chief Chen Peishen asked me to be the illustrator for the magazine’s short stories.
The authors of Young Companion short stories were the finest in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Most of the stories were based on the society in Taiwan and Hong Kong at the time, making it relatively easy to find the right reference and perspectives. Interestingly enough, I acquired a brush pen by chance and it created lines similar to design drawings and Chinese paintings. I loved that brush and used it to create more than twenty drawings. For some of the illustrations I even went to the trouble of making plein-air sketches. Most of the compositions were the products of the imagination but even today they have their own unique qualities. Looking at the drawings now, I am still amazed by my imagination back then.