On the fall of 2018, no pun intended, two of the greatest storytellers of all time has put down their pen for the final time. Jin Yong, whose full name is Cha Leung Yung, passed away October 30th, 2018. Jin Yong was famous for all the Martial Art novel he wrote in the 70s, his work continues to be adapted into TV drama, animated shows and featured films in the Chinese entertainment world. Recently, Jin Yong’s book has been translated into English and being compared to Tolkien and George RR Martin. Just as the world mourns over the fall of a legend, another sorrowful news struck just two weeks after. Stan Lee, or Stanley Martin Lieber, passed away on November 12, 2018, at the age of 95. Stan Lee is another legend in the west, he is a comic book writer and editor, founder of Marvel comics and creator of many superheroes such as Spiderman, X-men and Captain America.
I grew up in the 1990s, one of the best period for many kids. Many popular TV shows appear on the screen and gain immense popularity in a short amount of time in this short decade, shows such as DragonBall Z, Mighty Morphine Power Rangers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Some of the shows caught my eyes more than some of the mentioned TV shows, are X-men and Spiderman. In fact, those two TV shows are my first Superhero TV shows and subsequently became my favourite for a very long time. I was only eight or nine years old when these two shows appear on my TV screen, I saw how a group of people fight villains and a teenager fight against animal themed criminals. It never hit me until I was a little older to know that X-men represented the racial discrimination throughout the world and how one extremist group can hurt the hard work of peace seeking people, I never understood Spiderman was about a young teenager fighting against the harsh society and adulthood that often put people onto stray path. Looking back now, these shows are much deeper than they are, and most certainly the heroism portrayed out of the superheroes deeply affected me, influenced me to do good to the people around me.
Once I am in my early teen, I started to do some reading, novels to be in particular. I remembered “Harry Potter” was all the craze around the school at that time, but I couldn’t get into it. I came across some Chinese novels, one book on the shelf attracted my eyes “The Return of the Condor Heroes”, or “神雕侠侣” in Mandarin. I took it off the shelf and started reading, this was the first step of me stepping into the world of martial art novel. The heroes in the book went through more obstacles than any other stories I have read, sometimes even when the protagonist has to lose a limb for it (pun intended). Heroism is prominent in Jin Yong’s books, however, it is the characters in his books that attracted me. They are not the all-benevolent or all-loving like in the typical teenage novel, these characters felt real. They suffer from tragedy, they had someone close to them die, and some of them even had friends turned against them. These characters felt real because they went through something we would go through, yet they continue to uphold the heroism, they practice what they preach. Not only was I affected by the heroism displayed by all the protagonists, I was also inspired by the courage and perseverance through all the characters in the book, I can safely say that I am who I am today because of the heroes in Jin Yong’s books.
Let’s talk a little about these two legend, I’ll start with Jin Yong. Jin Yong was a legendary writer in the last century and continues to influence many writers and novelists of the current generation, but he wasn’t a novelist at first, he was a journalist. When he was appointed as the deputy editor, he started to write his first martial art novel and subsequently continue writing it throughout the 1950s to 1970s. Jin Yong co-founded Hong Kong Daily News, Ming Pao, in 1959 and became the editor-in-chief, most of his novels will then be published on Ming Pao as daily instalment. Jin Yong wrote a total of 14 novels and one short story from 1956 to 1970. Jin Yong passed away on October 30th, 2018, in Hong Kong.
Stan Lee, a name that rings throughout the all comic book writers and readers, his name got even more outreach through the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Stan Lee is also credited for the creation of many iconic superheroes, sometimes alongside with other writers. Stan Lee, along with other wrters,is responsible for the creation of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Spiderman, The Hulk, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, X-Men and the Avengers. All the Superheroes that Stan Lee helped created continue to strive throughout the Golden-Age (1930s – 1905s), Silver-Age (1956 – 1970), Bronze-Age (1970 – 1985) and Modern-Age (1985 – current) in comic books. Ever since 2008, with the film Iron Man, Stan Lee’s superheroes were introduced to people who don’t read comic books, influenced by the heroism that lies deeply into their hearts.
Both of their works has made serious impact onto their readers, many of them even brought hope to the readers. Stan Lee’s comic characters emerge during the World War II, one of the bloodiest war in human history, many Americans and soldiers needed something to bring them out of the cruelty, so Captain America appeared and fought Nazi in the comic. After the World War II, Stan Lee’s superheroes emerge to fight against the cold war, racial discrimination, war against drug, the final frontier of outer space and the unpredictability of the future. It is exactly at this time, superheroes like Spiderman, X-men, Fantastic-Four, many readers resonated with these superheroes. There is one thing that many of these superheroes represent, they are represent the ideology of freedom and the persistence to pursue such freedom. People yearn for freedom, especially Americans, the freedom of speech, freedom to pursue their dreams, freedom to decide their destiny. We can look at the superheroes and find out that they are fighting to pursue those freedom too, X-men fight for racial freedom and racial discrimination, Spiderman fights for the freedom of the regular joe for their future, Captain America fights for the freedom from oppression, Iron man fights for the freedom for society and technological advancement. The superheroes showed to the readers that they can pursue that, inspire readers to find their freedom to move forward. With the success of the MCU, more movie lovers realized the ideology of these superheroes and find hope in their life, all thanks to Stan Lee the man.
Jin Yong’s book contains martial art heroes who fight against the oppressing society, many of the heroes are nobodies, orphan or abandoned student from a martial art school. Many critics and readers agreed that the heroes in Jin Yong’s books embodied some form of hope, especially in Hong Kong. In the 1950s, just a few years after World War II, there were a sense of dreadfulness, uneasiness of where the society will be heading towards. The crime rate in Hong Kong of the same period was at a record high, according to the official Hong Kong Statistic, the crime rate during 1953 to 1960 was between 50% to 70%, serious crime such as murder and larcenies were rampant during this period. Due to the harsh environment and society, people need a sense of hope, a hero that inspire them. The heroes in Jin Yong’s books provided exactly that to the readers, the heroes that they need. These heroes go against the oppression from society, monarchy, social entitlement and sometimes even seniority. These are some of the values that many people need to overcome to achieve something greater, something they never expect to be able to achieve. This is why these heroes never felt out of place, even in our modern era. In fact, these martial art heroes might just be even more relevant with the amount of people realizing the oppression from various angles. I was heavily influenced by the heroes’ perseverance to overcome obstacles, like many other people, or else we may just be complacent with our current situation and refuse to move on.
The fall of 2018 is not a good time, we lost two of the greatest storytellers from the western and the eastern world. Despite that, we have to be happy that they had created heroes that we will forever look upon, heroes that we will forever be aspired. Thank you Stan Lee the man, thank you Jin yong, for supporting three generations of people through their hardest period.