Have fun learning Chinese with Horse Dragon Fish

No matter how you approach it, learning Chinese is difficult and can get the best of you sometimes. For those times when you need a break from reading boring textbooks or looking at Chinese news snippings there is Horse Dragon Fish. “Horse Dragon Fish!? WTF is that?” I hear you say. Good question. Horse Dragon Fish is a little known web comic with a unique sense of humour, featuring everything from expat experiences in the Chinese world, to Internet memes and other random humour.

Have fun learning Chinese with Horse Dragon Fish

Today we had the good fortune to meet Chris, the creator of Horse Dragon Fish, and talk about the comic, his inspiration and the future:

Can you introduce yourself a bit? Where are you at the moment, and what are you doing etc?

HELLO DAVE, I SHALL RESPOND IN CAPITAL LETTERS IF YOU DON’T MIND, AS THE CAPS LOCK IS STUCK WOULD YOU BELIEVE. MY NAME IS CHRIS, I AM A 27 YEAR OLD MALE FROM SCOTLAND. CURRENTLY I LIVE IN KAOHSIUNG CITY IN TAIWAN. SOME PEOPLE SAY KAOHSIUNG IS HOT, AND THEY WOULD BE CORRECT. I HAVE BEEN STUDYING CHINESE SINCE ABOUT THE SECOND MONTH I ARRIVED IN TAIWAN, WHICH WAS AROUND 3 YEARS AGO NOW. IT’S BEEN A LONG HARD ROAD TO GET WHERE I AM, AND MY ADVICE TO ANYONE LEARNING CHINESE RIGHT NOW IS TO EITHER GIVE UP OR KEEP GOING.

So, have you been learning Chinese in a class, or by yourself?

I HAVE TAKEN CLASSES FOR ABOUT 2 YEARS TOTAL. I TOOK 6 MONTHS OFF AND RIGHT NOW I HAVE DECIDED TO NOT ENROL FOR NEXT SEMESTER? WHY? WELL, I THINK CLASSES ARE ESSENTIAL AT FIRST IF YOU WANT TO GET YOUR PRONUNCIATION DOWN AND THE BASICS SET IN STONE, BUT AS YOU PROGRESS I THINK THE NEED FOR A FORMAL STUDY SETTING SLOWLY DIMINISHES. THESE DAYS I STUDY ABOUT TWO TO FOUR HOURS EACH DAY INCLUDING ABOUT AN HOUR OF WRITING. I USE ANKI RELIGIOUSLY AND PREFER USING REAL WORLD MATERIAL AS OPPOSED TO TEXTBOOKS.

Horse Dragon Fish - Licence

About Horse Dragon Fish, I’ve got to first ask, what’s with the name?

I DON’T REALLY HAVE AN INTERESTING ANSWER I’M AFRAID, I JUST KNEW THAT I WANTED 3 CHARACTERS, AND I HAVE ALWAYS REALLY LIKE 魚and 馬. ADDING IN A DRAGON JUST SEEMS TO BE THE THING TO DO IN CHINESE CULTURE.

What were the main motivations around Horse Dragon Fish, was learning or teaching Chinese one of them?

TO BE HONEST I JUST GOT SICK AND TIRED OF READING BLOGS FROM JOE CHINESE LEARNER ENDLESSLY DEBATING SOME RUBBISH LIKE “HOW I LEARNT CHINESE IN TWO WEEKS”. I WANTED TO CREATE SOMETHING WHICH PEOPLE COULD ACTUALLY READ AND LEARN FROM, AND HOPEFULLY ENJOY. I READ CHINESE CARTOONS IN THE NEWSPAPERS ALL THE TIME, BUT MY GOD ARE THEY BAD. HAVE YOU READ THEM? ABSOLUTELY RUBBISH. I THOUGHT I COULD DO A BETTER JOB SO HERE I AM.

What kind of audience are you aiming for with Horse Dragon Fish? I’ve seen some specific Internet memes featured, such as the “It’s a trap” meme, are you aiming for a web-savvy audience?

I LOVE INTERNET MEMES AND ALL THAT, BUT I HAVE NO PLAN WHATSOEVER. I TAKE A SHOWER IN THE MORNING, AN IDEA POPS INTO MY HEAD, I TRY TO FIGURE OUT, “HOW WOULD I SAY THIS IN CHINESE?”, THEN I DRAW IT. WE’LL SEE WHERE IT GOES, BUT RIGHT NOW IT’S REALLY JUST WHATEVER I THINK IS FUNNY. OFTEN I RUN AN IDEA BY MY GIRLFRIEND FIRST LIKE “HEY IS THIS FUNNY IN CHINESE?” AND SHE SAYS “NO, WHAT? I DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND!” BUT I USUALLY GO AHEAD AND PUBLISH IT ANYWAY. LOL.

Horse Dragon Fish - Trap

The humour in the comics is great, where do you find your inspiration?

THANKS. HMM NOT SURE WHERE IT COMES FROM BUT I WILL LAUGH AT ALMOST ANYTHING REALLY. I THINK IT’S A BRITISH THING SINCE MOST OF US ARE EMOTIONALLY RETARDED. THE HUMOUR BEHIND CYANIDE&HAPPINESS IS EXACTLY MY CUP OF TEA THOUGH.

What plans do you have for Horse Dragon Fish in the future? Such as Chinese learning tools, a book, merchandise?

NO IDEA REALLY. IT IS STILL JUST A BIT OF FUN FOR ME AND AN EXCUSE TO WRITE SOME CHINESE CHARACTERS BY HAND. IF I FELT THERE WAS A DEMAND THEN MAYBE I COULD SELL MUGS OR SOMETHING?

Horse Dragon Fish 去死

Where can the readers find Horse Dragon Fish online, and do you have a regular release schedule for the comic?

THE SITE IS HORSEDRAGONFISH.COM WHICH IS THROUGH TUMBLR. RECENTLY I BROKE MY LEFT HAND SO CONTENT KIND OF DROPPED A TAD. ORIGINALLY I WANTED TO DO ONE A DAY BUT MY OH MY THAT IS HARD WORK. WE SHALL SEE. AT LEAST ONE A WEEK FOR THE MEANTIME I THINK, BUT I SUGGEST FOLLOWING ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER THEN IF I POST SOMETHING IT WILL TELL YOU. OH YEH, FACEBOOK AND TWITTER, YOU CAN FIND “US” ON THERE TOO 😀

As Chris says, you can find Horse Dragon Fish on their website, and also on Twitter and Facebook too, so make sure you follow to be notified when a new comic is released! Each comic also lists the Chinese transcript and English translation – and from what I hear Pinyin and Simplified Chinese are soon to follow.

If you know of any other funny online comics related to Chinese, or want to ask Chris a question about Horse Dragon Fish, then post a comment below:

  • balsa

    I am totally into this kind of fun learning as well, and have subscribed to Wan Wan’s blog for a while now, cute and fun comics with some interesting vocab to learn. http://www.wretch.cc/blog/cwwany/
    Exciting to find yet another source to practice my reading 🙂

  • Gleaves

    Fun.

    I liked Dr. Li.

    白目 was new to me.

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  • Great interview Dave, and great comic Chris, will definitely be checking it out (though I wish it wasn’t on Posterous, as Posterous sites are blocked here in the Mainland — way to rub your net-freedoms in our faces!) lol.

    • Thanks for the info Ryan, I’m pretty sure Chris would want the blog to be visable in China. I think that they are hosted on Tumblr, but maybe Tumblr is blocked on the mainland too? I’ll let Chris know (or he’ll read this) so he can sort out some other hosting.

      • Ah, right. Often mix up Tumblr and Posterous — both are equally blocked. I left the following on HHR:

        Unfortunately if it’s free and for blogging, it’s likely blocked. For the $5/mo. that basic shared hosting costs, that’s by far the best bet. A free copy of WordPress and a free (web-comic?) theme and you’re good o go.

  • Woah!

    Here is a little comic to say thanks Dave 🙂

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