|Shaolin Burning by Ant Sang is an example of
that curious literary form: the graphic novel or for the old fuddy duddies in our midst a
comic book (with the emphasis on the book).
Shaolin Burning tells, in
pictures and words, the story of the destruction of the Shaolin temple and the birth of
wing chun kung fu. The story follows the life of Plum Blossom who born on the night the
temple was destroyed and the Monk Who Doubts a possible sixth survivor of the
temples destruction. Plum Blossom wants to know why Monk Who Doubts killed her
friend, while Monk Who Doubts wages a personal vendetta against the Manchu invaders.
In part history book and part dramatisation of the genesis of wing chun kung fu this
was a curious read and reminded me strongly of The Cartoon History of the
Universe series with the one part history to one part drama exposition style
(and this is no mean comparison, let me assure you). Ant Sang has a flowing illustrative
style and conveys in a few frames, image and speech bubbles the story essentials. If I
have a suggestion for improvement for Shaolin Burning that would
be that it form the start of a series about the history of kung fu and related martial
arts one book is not enough.