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Daily DripArt & Design

Famous Martial Arts Novel Becomes Stunning New Comic Book

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Chronicles of the Immortal Swordsman (剑仙传奇) by renowned wuxia novelist Shiao Yi has been adapted into a comic series by Immortal Studios — with the first issue released on December 7. The new adaptation brings the iconic 1970s story to a modern setting, swapping ancient mystical mountains for urban jungles.

The novel’s author Shiao Yi is one of China’s most celebrated wuxia novelists, whose works have been adapted into 30 films and TV shows. In fact, he was honored with a permanent collection at the UCLA East Asian Library, making him the first writer of Asian descent and the only wuxia writer to be included in UCLA’s permanent collection.

Wuxia (武俠), which translates to ‘martial arts heroes,’ is a popular genre of fiction from China that spans film, television, and literature.

Wuxia tales often center around stories involving martial artists, or swordsmen, as they are referred to, redressing wrongs or bringing justice to the oppressed or the marginalized. The settings of these stories typically take place in ancient China.

Chronicles of the Immortal Swordsman

The comic version of Chronicles of the Immortal Swordsman was written by Peter Shiao, founder and CEO of Immortal Studios and the son of Shiao Yi, and illustrated by Pop Mhan. It was initially financed through Kickstarter, where the campaign received an impressive 300% of its requested funding.

This first issue will be followed by three more comic releases, which, taken as a four-part series, will constitute a graphic novel.

It follows the journey of Chinese-American college student Phil Du, who finds himself in the middle of a civil war between supernatural warriors while navigating the divide between reality and a virtual world.

“I am thrilled to be able to introduce Chronicles of the Immortal Swordsmen [to] a brand-new Western audience,” Peter Shiao explains. “I grew up surrounded by wuxia stories, and Chronicles of the Immortal Swordsmen was always my personal favorite of my father’s best-selling novels.”

He adds that the new comic series has been modernized for a new generation of wuxia fans, with the introduction of Los Angeles as the new backdrop and novel technologies for the characters to contend with.

Chronicles of the Immortal Swordsmen

The novel-to-comic adaptation is the latest addition to the Immortal Storyverse, an interconnected universe created by Immortal Studios that brings together a wide range of characters and stories from the wuxia genre. The studio’s first title to be released was The Adept, a beautiful ode to kung fu lore that dropped back in 2020.

When asked why he embarked on the journey with Immortal Studios, Peter Shiao tells RADII, “I have always believed that storytelling and media can be an immense tool for positive change in the world — beginning with personal transformation. And that the wuxia genre, in particular, is the genre that has a transformative perspective deep within its DNA.”

Artwork courtesy of Immortal Studios

Given the significant uptick in anti-Asian sentiment in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the adaptation could also be a much-needed medium to build cultural understanding among people in the US.

In fact, Chronicles of the Immortal Swordsman specifically includes anti-Asian violence in its plot to memorialize this tragic chapter in our history.

“The lack of representation in culture and media is one of the significant factors that allowed for racist and ignorant viewpoints to take root in the absence of an overall understanding and appreciation of Asians as being an indivisible part of American life,” says Peter Shiao. “So, [by] having stories out there for mainstream consumption that depict Asian American life from a knowing, focused perspective, we are creating systemic change.”

And the journey of Immortal Studios certainly doesn’t stop here.

Peter Shiao shares, “In 10 years, I see Immortal in full blossom as a multifaceted media and lifestyle brand that leads the premiere global storyverse. Where our characters, stories and themes are ubiquitous in all forms of media — coming together with a powerfully engaged fan base that is inspiring heroes everywhere.”

Chronicles of the Immortal Swordsmen is now exclusively available for purchase in print and digital formats from the Immortal Studios website. A free 15-page preview of the title is also available for download here.

All images courtesy of Immortal Studios

Kayla He
    Born and raised in China, Kayla received her BA in Communications and Public Service from the University of Pennsylvania. She currently works as a staff writer at RADII and is passionate about telling stories related to social issues women's empowerment. You can find her exploring coffee shops in Shanghai in her free time or rushing for Duffy and Friends plush toys at Shanghai Disneyland.

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