The Walled City Trilogy, from IDW/Top Shelf Comics, is an epic, dream-like anthology set in British colonial Hong Kong. The books are inspired by the Walled City of Kowloon, a remarkable, autonomous walled citadel once located in the Northern Territories along the Chinese border north of Hong Kong island. The city has long had an infamous reputation: it was once the most populated ghetto in the world. It was stateless, abandoned in every way by both British governments and Chinese rulers. It was the birthplace of the Hong King Triads, which grew into an international criminal juggernaut.
It was also a place of harmonious anarchy and re-invention. Refugees, criminals in want of a lawless haven. Dentists, doctors and inventors, pastry makers, monks and farmyard animals all found ways to live outside the bounds of formal society. The city developed it's own ad hoc courts of law, laundries, symphonies, graveyards and temples.
The books follow three acrobat-magicians who live in the shadows of British colonial rule. Their discovery of the Walled City, and those who live within it, changes their destinies as well as the destiny of the city. The story is, like the city itself, kaleidoscopic. It feels, as you read it, like an immersive wave; it surrounds you, dunks you under, lifts you to the surface. Hong Kong power brokers mix with rascally criminals, Astrologers and thieves share supper tables. The world in these books mirrors the city itself, a complex puzzle of walls and doors.
The illustrators were inspired by a wide range of Asian artistic mastery; from delicate brushwork and prismatic shades of color to panels that open up in kaleidoscopic, fan-like fashion.
The titles of the three books: 'His Dream of the Skyland', Volume One, 'Nocturne', Volume Two, and 'Listening to the Hundred Fold Notes of the Avowed Nightingales', Volume Three -- are all inspired by Li Po, 6th Century Chinese poet who lived both high and low.
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