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Hang on the Box: The Illustrated Story of China’s Female Punk Pioneers

The story of self-described “bitch-punk” band HotB, who were determined to break through the Beijing cultural underground’s glass ceiling in the late '90s

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Sep 4, 2019

20 years ago, Wang Yue, Yilinna and Yang Fan of the band Hang on the Box made the Beijing punk scene an international topic, posing in Tiananmen Square for a February 1999 cover of American magazine Newsweek. Crouched under the headline “China: The Limits on Freedom,” the three teenagers were put forward as bold iconoclasts, the new face of alternative Chinese youth. Where are they now?

Bursting onto the male-dominated rock scene in 1998, Hang on the Box was a self-described “bitch-punk” band determined to break through the Beijing cultural underground’s glass ceiling. They quickly became an international sensation, signing with a Japanese record label and becoming one of the first Chinese bands to perform at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, TX. Their original members — singer Wang Yue, better known as Gia; Yang Fan, who started on drums and later moved to guitar, becoming the band’s principal songwriter; Yilinna, the band’s original bassist; and Shen Jing, aka Shenggy, who replaced Yang Fan on drums in 1999 — all remain active musicians and cultural influencers.

Here is an illustrated history of China’s female punk pioneers, excerpted from a forthcoming comic book by animator Krish Raghav and RADII Culture Editor Josh Feola.

hang on the box comic beijing female punk

hang on the box comic beijing female punk

hang on the box comic beijing female punk

hang on the box comic beijing female punk

hang on the box comic beijing female punk

Find more info on Krish Raghav and Josh Feola’s forthcoming illustrated history of Beijing underground music here.

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