I’ve been reading Ben Costa’s Shi Long Pang in spurts for a couple months and it has become one of my favourite webcomics. It’s a historical fiction about a Shaolin monk, so it carries some of the best elements of a martial arts film, but is also brimming with great characterization, illuminating historical facts and a relatable antagonist. The art and story reminds me very positively of Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha.
The comic is incredibly charming and quite accessible, and Ben describes it accurately as a “historical fiction kung fu action adventure comedy drama comic set in 17th century China“.
It’s historical in that it takes place during a real period in history, and I attempt to represent the visuals with at least an air of accuracy (also, crammed in at the bottom of many pages you’ll find researched footnotes, which you can either thoroughly enjoy or else just skip).
It’s fiction because Pang and his temple and his plight are imagined; and while the main plot points are based on some kind of legend, it’s by no means historical fact. The only historical fact here is lurking in throw-away lines and sitting comfortably in the backdrop, just like in real Shaolin history!
In some sense, the comic has the basic trappings of your average kung fu movie: but with less fighting and more talking–and hopefully more character development.