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date: 12 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an analysis of Gene Luen Yang’s two-volume set Boxers and Saints, which offers historical fiction about the Boxer Uprising in the visual medium of comics. Embedded with numerous historical references, these graphic narratives unfold around two fictional characters who represent the complexity of a particularly contested period in Chinese history. Little Bao (a Boxer who is inspired by nationalism) and Four-Girl (a Christian convert who seeks belonging through faith) are on opposite sides of the conflict at the time, thus presenting parallel stories that prompt the reader to contemplate the nuances in the historical past. Both characters come to terms with who they are and what they believe in while being spiritually guided by the first Chinese emperor Ch’in Shih-huang and Joan of Arc, respectively. This chapter discusses how Yang’s work visualizes the intersectional images of the “thousand palms with eyes” of Guan Yin (the Buddhist goddess of compassion) and of Jesus Christ and how they present what Paul A. Cohen has called a “historically reconstructed past” in which the Boxers and the Chinese Christians’ encounters are visualized as “event, experience and myth” at the end of the nineteenth century.

Keywords: Boxer Uprising, Chinese Christians, nationalism, faith, comics, graphtic narrative

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