OPEN ALL THE BUDDHA BOXES
A radical comic book history of the Beijing music underground
What if the entire history of 20th century alternative music - from rock’n’roll and punk to new wave and all-night raves - happened in a single place over a single generation?
For two decades, Beijing was that place: a laboratory and a temple for some of the world’s most vital music. In the late 1990s, there was a spark in the smoggy air – a post-Tiananmen generation crafting surrealist, apathetic sonic fables of a forbidding, alienating city.
That city, their city, was busy overturning itself for the 2008 Olympics, which meant a paradoxical freedom: to explore, push, subvert traditions and expectations. There were no rules, and anarchic abandon reigned.
Like 1970s Manchester, No Wave New York and Berlin before the fall of the Wall, the musical possibilities were endless. What emerged, from riot grrl punk to dissonant psychedelic rock, was unparalleled – a phenomenal, inventive underground scene that absorbed and reinvented many forms of contemporary music.
This forthcoming comic book is 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.
Built on a decade of lived experience, journalism and in-depth interviews, this is a comic book window into a parallax China of wild creativity and avant-garde pioneers — reported and drawn by two insiders of the scene.
It’s an illustrated love letter to the music that first defied, and then defined, 21st-century Beijing.
Open to all queries and requests. Say hi!
Josh Feola is a writer and musician based in Shanghai. He’s organized over 1,000 music, art, and film events in China since 2010, via his label pangbianr and as booking manager of seminal Beijing music venues D-22 and XP. He writes regularly about music and art for publications including The Wire, Artsy, Dazed, Tiny Mix Tapes, and Bandcamp Daily, and is currently Culture Editor of new media platform RADII.
As a musician, he formerly played drums in Beijing bands SUBS, Vagus Nerve, and Chui Wan.He also records experimental electronic compositions under the name Charm.
Krish Raghav is a comic book artist and illustrator who works for Split Works, one of China's oldest underground music promoters. He was part of the founding team of the Concrete & Grass Music Festival in Shanghai, and is their current lead illustrator.
He’s been involved with pan-Asian indie music and contemporary culture for close to a decade and has published three independent works of comic book reportage.
Krish was a 2018 Macdowell Colony Fellow, and his drawings have appeared in GQ, BBC, National Geographic Traveller and Buzzfeed. He runs a podcast about songwriting, and helps make the best music festival in China happen.