18 Nov, 2009 : Ding Cong, Huang Yao, Hua Junwu and Huang Miaozi
Recently when meeting with various cartoon scholars, I have been shown pictures of my granddad's friends when they are in their 80s and 90s, sometimes there are pictures of them in a hospital bed or with machines attached to them. If they are alive still, they would be rather old. Ding Cong died earlier this year. I think my granddad may have been one of the earlier ones to pass on back in 1987.
I had the chance to meet Ding Cong, back in 1999. I was in Beijing for a conference on finance but I think I didn’t understand my granddad as a cartoonist. I met the editor of Shandong Press, Ms. Feng Lei who came from Shandong to come and meet me, they republished my granddad's works from 1934 to 1937. It feels like such a haze now, what I knew then compared to what I know today (which is still probably half a picture!), nevertheless a puzzle slowly coming together.
Back in 1999, Ms. Feng Lei came to see me at my hotel. My mind was filled with thoughts of my grandfather as an artist and not a cartoonist, she showed me images of his cartoons which were very different from the cartoons I saw growing up (which is an older niu bizi who was more like a grandfather figure), here niubizi was a squat little round guy, spewing words I didn't understand.
The partial or literal understanding of these words, titles and sayings came only when we lived in Taiwan and I had the time to have a Chinese teacher take me through his written works. Even today, I understand a part of what he wrote. Often not to the same effect as other people who relate to his works on a totally different level and burst into giggles like schoolboys.
I am sorry I did not get to meet and thank Ding Cong myself for when I did get the chance to go to Beijing again in 2008, he was already unwell and not receiving guests.