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Hang on the Box: The Illustrated Story of China’s Female Punk Pioneers

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20 years ago, Wang Yue, Yilinna and Yang Fan of the band Hang on the Box made the Beijing punk scene an international topic, posing in Tiananmen Square for a February 1999 cover of American magazine Newsweek. Crouched under the headline “China: The Limits on Freedom,” the three teenagers were put forward as bold iconoclasts, the new face of alternative Chinese youth. Where are they now?

Bursting onto the male-dominated rock scene in 1998, Hang on the Box was a self-described “bitch-punk” band determined to break through the Beijing cultural underground’s glass ceiling. They quickly became an international sensation, signing with a Japanese record label and becoming one of the first Chinese bands to perform at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, TX. Their original members — singer Wang Yue, better known as Gia; Yang Fan, who started on drums and later moved to guitar, becoming the band’s principal songwriter; Yilinna, the band’s original bassist; and Shen Jing, aka Shenggy, who replaced Yang Fan on drums in 1999 — all remain active musicians and cultural influencers.

Here is an illustrated history of China’s female punk pioneers, excerpted from a forthcoming comic book by animator Krish Raghav and RADII Culture Editor Josh Feola.

hang on the box comic beijing female punk

hang on the box comic beijing female punk

hang on the box comic beijing female punk

hang on the box comic beijing female punk

hang on the box comic beijing female punk

Find more info on Krish Raghav and Josh Feola’s forthcoming illustrated history of Beijing underground music here.

Krish Raghav and Josh Feola
    Krish Raghav is a comic book artist and illustrator who works for Split Works, one of China's oldest underground music promoters; Josh Feola is a writer and musician with over a decade of experience in the Chinese scene, and RADII's Culture Editor. The duo is currently working together on a book that will provide a telescopic, panoramic view of that Beijing underground – from the grimy dive bars that birthed Chinese punk rock to the livehouses and clubs that incubated the city’s many other musical experiments and movements. Follow their progress here.