Quick and dirty tips for not getting banned in China

So you face a dilemma.

You’re a fine, up-and-coming webcomic creator and you want to get as many eyeballs as you can. You don’t totally approve of this firewall that China has up on ethical grounds, what with you being a devoted net neutrality advocate and all (whatever that means). But hey, you barely get 30 regular viewers, and even an infinitesimal fraction of China’s market of a billion potential readers would be considered a success.

Would it really hurt to get some additional viewers, even if they don’t totally get your language and/or Westernized humor?

And how about those Westerners working in China? Should you deny transfer students your awesome brand of sequential art whimsy?

Is selling your soul to Satan really as bad as everyone makes it out to be?

Think about it.

Fortunately, our agents at Webcomic Overlook (i.e., me and the Google search engine) have scoured the web looking for handy tips on how not to get banned in China… freely given, by the way, unlike some other sites. (Wink, wink.)

  1. Stay away from posting your webcomic on social networking sites.

    From The Guardian:

    Broadly speaking, most of the big social websites – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – are all blocked. Many familiar sites, such as Wikipedia, remain but with entire sections or contentious pages disappeared by The Great Firewall. Porn is pretty much outlawed.

    Here’s a partial list of more banned sites. I have no idea if popular webcomic-related sites like LiveJournal, Blogspot, and WordPress are included. I assume those are on a case-by-case basis.

    As for that last bannable offense, that probably means Oglaf, Sexy Losers, and Menage a 3 are outlawed. On the plus side, it’s very likely that Jack is also outlawed.

    Those lucky SOB’s.

  2. This image... probably bannable in China.

  3. Be aware of certain words that will likely get you banned. has a pretty nice list of bannable terms here. So, if you made up your webcomic name using a random name generator, and it spit out something ridiculous like “Oriental Red Space Time,” be wary: you WILL be banned in China.

    Or if you deign to make in a cerebral reference to Greek mythological hero Polynices, you WILL be banned in China. (Holy crap, I’m turning into the political version of Jeff Foxworthy.)

    Interestingly, “Chinese Democracy” isn’t specifically called out, so feel free to make as many Guns N’ Roses jokes as you want! (Also not banned: “The Spaghetti Incident?” Though it totally should.)

    All these bannable terms, by the way, do make for an attractive work of art.

  4. You probably shouldn’t be posting pictures of Tang Wei.

    The Chinese actress apparently has been blacklisted from getting an acting job in China. (Though I think she’s still OK in Hong Kong, China’s Sin City.) It’s probably robably because, in Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution, she strips to her birthday suit and engages in some steamy rated NC-17 sex scenes.

    Sooooo…. posting pictures of her is probably a big no no. Not that you should ever be posting pictures of attractive ladies on your website to get some cheap hits.


  5. If you’re writing a furry webcomic, never, under any circumstances, create a silly, bombastic dictator named “Chairman Meow.”

    I mean… obviously.
  6. Like this.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s already too late for me. The Webcomic Overlook is banned, banned, banned, and now I only have the wonderful Canadians (who astonishingly make up a whopping 63% of readers) to keep me going.

But I see this as a good thing.

Envision this scenario, if you will. Three years from now, China will probably develop a rather transparent Penny Arcade knock-off. (Just like every other webcomic creator in the Western world has done.) We’ll be laughing at first, like we laughed about the Chinese iPhone. But then Chinese engineers will reverse engineer the elements that make webcomics successful and will suddenly corner the webcomic market with a superior yet easy to manufacture product. And this will end up killing Western webcomics as we know it. Soon, we will just unquestioningly assume that the highest quality webcomics all come from China … until the put out a webcomic that has faulty accelerator pedals or something, and that won’t happen until 30 years down the line.

Meanwhile, they won’t have a superior webcomic review product because they have no baseline to work from. “What is this Webcomic Overlook?” they will ask, totally unfamiliar. They WOULD have known, if they could access it.

Thus The Webcomic Overlook will thrive in the post-Chinese-dominated world. Oh, sure, I’m going to have to make some token recognition about the glories of the Cultural Revolution — but who doesn’t these days, eh?

And then I shall laugh. Triumphantly. For the glory of Chairman Meow.

Er, Mao.


About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on January 28, 2010, in The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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