While English-language translations of Chinese literature have steadily increased in the last few decades, making writers like Mo Yan and Ha Jin literary stars in the West, we've yet to see Chinese graphic novels make much of a splash outside of their home country. Though Chinese manhua(comic books) have received some interest in South Korea and Japan, and manhua was included as part of last year's Frankfurt Book Fair, so far Chinese graphic novels have failed to attain the overseas distribution or popularity enjoyed by their Japanese manga counterparts.
However, this may be changing. This December, Chinese graphic novels will make their U.S. debut with the American release of the wildly popular action series Daomu (盗墓, "Tomb Robber" or "Tomb Raider"). Based on the Daomu Bi Ji (or "tomb raider's journal") novel series, which has reached well over 20 million readers since debuting in 2007, the upcoming American launch of the graphic novels will be the first for a wider Daomu franchise, which will later include video games, an animated series, and a feature film.
According to Image Comics (Daomu's American publisher):
Daomu explores an underground world that has been active in China for thousands of years. After witnessing his father's violent murder, Sean Liu discovers that his family belongs to a secret society of tomb raiders. Led by his uncle, Sean joins an elite team of Daomu to go deep underground in search of answers. Who are they? Who—or what—killed Sean's father? And what horrors await beneath the earth's surface?
With a distinctive digital art style and high-energy adventures steeped in Chinese tradition and superstition, the comic series will follow Sean's coming of age as a modern-day tomb raider and his quest to uncover the truth behind his father's death.
It will be interesting to see how the roll-out of the Daomu franchise goes in the U.S. Though American audiences have likely had little exposure to Chinese manhua -- particularly compared to Japanese manga -- the series' novelty, if nothing else, should get it a decent amount of attention and could get more American graphic novel fans interested in learning more about Chinese history and culture. Hopefully, people don't get it confused with the 1990s video game series "Tomb Raider."
[Note: Comics Alliance has posted a few scans of interior pages.]