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Manhua / Old Master Q

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Advert from the comic's 30th Anniversary back in 1996. note 

Old Master Q (Chinese: 老夫子; pinyin: Lǎo Fū Zi; Cantonese jyutping: lou5 fu1 zi2) is a Chinese manhua created by Alfonso Wong (Chinese: 王家禧 / 王澤; pinyin: Wáng Jiā Xǐ / Wáng Zé; Cantonese Jyutping: wong4 gaa1 hei1). The cartoon first appeared as comic strips in the newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong in 1962, and later serialised in 1964.

The series features Old Master Q and his friends - Big Potato (Traditional Chinese: 大蕃薯; Simplified Chinese: 大番薯; pinyin: Dà Fān Shǔ; Cantonese Jyutping: daai6 faan1 syu4), Mr. Chin (Chinese: 秦先生; pinyin: Qín Xiān Shēng; Cantonese Jyutping: ceon4 sin1 saang1), Mr. Chiu (Traditional Chinese: 老趙/趙先生 Simplified Chinese: 老赵 / 赵先生; pinyin: Lǎo Zhào / Zhào Xiān Shēng;; Cantonese Jyutping: lou5 ziu6/ziu6 sin1 saang1) and Miss Chan (Traditional Chinese: 陳小姐 Simplified Chinese: 陈小姐; pinyin: Chén Xiǎo Jiě; Cantonese jyutping: can4 siu2 ze2) - in many different hilarious situations. They are usually portrayed in a variety of social statuses, professions and time periods, ranging from beggars and office workers to actors and ancient warriors, allowing a wide variety of settings and ideas. Some scenarios include aliens, monsters, ghost sightings, and the afterlife. The majority of the comic strips parodies those themes.


In the context of the strips, Old Master Q, Big Potato and Mr. Chin are close friends; Mr. Chiu often play an antagonistic role toward the trio; finally, Miss Chan is often portrayed as a love interest to Old Master Q.

Old Master Q provides examples of (Note: Most tropes are Played for Laughs):

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Often seen in ancient Chinese settings, in which Master Q's sword can cut down trees.
  • Accidental Pun: In one strip, a westerner asks Master Q about a picture on the wall: a bright sun and a beach. Master Q replies him, "Sun of a beach." The next panel shows Master Q with black eyes and the westerner walking away.
  • The Alcoholic: Most of the male characters often consume alcoholic drinks and may end up with double vision, pouring the drink on one's head, passing out on the streets, etc.
  • Aside Glance: Master Q, when the outcome of a certain event is too absurd for words, resorts to looking at the reader with a wide-eyed expression of sorts. One woman borrowed this trope here.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: When there are pretty girls around, Master Q will be distracted. Hilarity Ensues afterwards.
    • One strip shows Master Q is flirting with Miss Chan. His speech to Miss Chan is roughly translated to: "You are my life. You are my soul." But when a girl passes by, he is cut in the middle of his speech. When the girl has gone, he asks Miss Chan, "What was I talking about earlier?"
    • Sometimes Mr. Chin experiences this problem too.
  • Billionaire Wristband: In one episode, Master Q and an unnamed rich man get into an argument over who's richer, showing off their wallet and credit cards, and finally culminating in Master Q boasting about his diamond-studded Rolex. Their argument is cut short when a robber suddenly shows up, holds them at gunpoint, and announces it's a robbery.
  • Black Comedy: Many strips involve some pretty grim material, up to including the main characters dying, but all Played for Laughs. And thanks to Negative Continuity, death doesn't stick.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Sometimes Master Q is drawn to be looking at the readers while speaking.
    • Happens in universe. Master Q is performing in the TV. Big Potato suddenly phones him with the phone in front of the said TV to tell him that his house is burning. Master Q reacts by getting out of the TV screen and asking Big Potato about the fire.
  • Bruce Lee Clone: In-universe example and parodied. There's one strip where Master Q asks Big Potato not to leak out his secret: people are saying that he is like Bruce Lee.
    • The first animated film had So-Totally-Not-Bruce Lee train Master Q and Potato, as they are on the run from criminals.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Master Q. Most of the time.
    • When Miss Chan tells him that two men are proposing her and she can't decide who she should go with, Master Q tells her to go with him instead.
    • When Master Q's boss scolds him for a very long time, Master Q laughs at the boss, infuriating him so much.
    • There is one strip where Master Q is a palmist. When a beggar asks for money by showing his palm, Master Q does a fortunetelling.
  • Drunken Master: Sometimes Master Q can take out robbers while being drunk.
  • Drunk on Milk: A strip had OMQ and Mr. Chin walk out of a bar drunk on wine. Big Potato, however, walks out drunk on a liter of soda.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Especially notable in the strips from the late 60s.
    • The earlier strips are more "realistic" and grounded in reality, per se. Later strips contains more outlandish elements such as aliens, supernatural, time travel, giant monsters, and stuff which wouldn't occur in real life.
    • Chin doesn't show up until the later installments, and even when he does, he's a Flat Character at best.
    • Master Q's affection for his girlfriend, Miss Chan, isn't that obvious in the earlier strips.
    • The most jarring element? Mr. Chiu actually debuts in a long story titled "Haunted House Adventure", involving Master Q, Potato Head and Chin travelling to a rural village to visit Master Q's grand-auntie, and in that story, not only is Mr. Chiu introduced as Master Q's distant cousin, but he's actually a friend and ally to the trio! Alphonse Wong only started portraying Mr. Chiu as an enemy maybe a decade later after his debut, to create an antagonist solely for the story, and his Face–Heel Turn is never explained.
  • Fashion Dissonance: Exaggerated for comedy. The manhua started in the early 60s but the strips move on with the times as well and it is very noticeable through the random civilians' appearances (i.e. long-haired hippy-dippy men, flared trousers, shoulder pads, etc.) which causes Master Q to point out the more ridiculous looks that were considered trendy. Though he's not above trying to fit in as well.
  • Flipping the Bird: Master Q in this strip (though it's difficult to tell) when a man wolf-whistles to a girl he's with, despite doing the same to random women a few panels ago.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: A lot.
    • Master Q and Mr. Chiu quarrel this way: Master Q is in the TV. Mr. Chiu is watching the TV and sees Master Q, so he calls him, "Damn you, Master Q." Then Master Q looks at the camera and replies to his insult.
    • There is a strip when Master Q is watching a cowboy show. The cowboy has drawn his gun and is shown to be aiming at Master Q on the TV. It ends with a panel showing Master Q lying limply on the couch.
    • Another strip features two people fighting in the TV, which damages everything nearby (includes a vase above the TV), which leads to Master Q and Big Potato calling police.
    • An inversion happens when the TV show features a lady teaching how to apply lipstick. Then Master Q and Big Potato move the TV. The next panel shows that the lady's face and lips are messy with lipstick.
  • Gale-Force Sound: Sometimes downplayed and looks more like Sonic Stunner. It is chilling and literally hair-raising at times (especially when sung in high pitch).
  • Giant Medical Syringe: The 2002 spinoff, titled Master Q's Fantasy Zone Battle, introduces the sidekick, Chin, who works as a doctor, his first scene teasing a flu patient with a humongous syringe as large as himself. The terrified patient predictably bolts out of the clinic just as Chin pulls out a smaller syringe, says "Nah, just kidding!" before realizing the patient had left.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Usually when Master Q is drunk.
    • Deconstructed in a few strips. There is one where Master Q gets hit by a bottle on the head and ends up being submitted to a hospital. There, a pretty nurse serves him until he recovers. But after fully recovering, Master Q wants to return to the hospital so that he'll be served by the nurse again. So, he thinks of hitting his own head with a bottle. The next panel shows people carrying a coffin, where it ends.
  • Hard Head: Big Potato often shows this. In one strip, a robber slashes his dagger at Potato's head, but the knife breaks instead.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Right here. Yeesh! Thank God these comics are in black and white...
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Commonly shown by Master Q or is sometimes averted in the strips. Master Q can hit a fly by throwing an adhesive tape, pierce dragonflies with arrows, etc.
  • Jump Rope Blunders: One strip had the comic's resident Fat Comic Relief, Big Potato, intending to exercise by jumping rope a hundred times, with his friend Chin do the counting for him. But due to Potato's short stature and clumsiness, he repeatedly gets the rope hitting his face instead.
    Chin: "One!" [cue Potato's jump-rope hitting his face]
    Potato: "That one doesn't count. Do it again."
    Chin: "One! [Potato's jump-rope hits his face again]... again?"
    Potato: "Yes, again!"
    Chin: "One! [fifteen minutes later]... one?"
  • Language Barrier: In the strips which involve westerners, Master Q and his friends will speak English instead of Chinese, although they fail most of the time.
    • In a strip where Big Potato is using a typewriter, he ends up typing random letters instead of Chinese characters.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: There are a few strips dedicated to Master Q getting his just desserts for attempting to take advantage of a random dope.
  • Last-Name Basis: Mr. Chin, Mr. Chiu, and Miss Chan are always referred to by surname with their given names remaining unknown.
  • Limited Wardrobe: In one strip, Mr. Chin opens his cabinet, which is full of the yellow plaid shirt he always wears.
  • Mean Boss: Mr. Chiu is consistently portrayed as such to whatever job the trio is working at, yelling at them or mistreating them during work. He mostly butt heads with Master Q because of this.
  • Mummy: In one strip, Master Q is depicted as an archeologist excavating an Egyptian tomb. Opening a sarcophagus, Master Q retrieves a scroll on a mummy, commenting, "Hmm, I can't read hieroglyphs..." cue the mummy suddenly sitting up, grabbing the scroll, and replying, "Well, I do!"
  • Negative Continuity: Nothing really sticks in this strip's universe. A character could be superhuman in one strip then a useless weakling the next or even dead then perfectly fine between installments with no explanation. It doesn't really matter, as long as it's funny.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands:
    • While it's a given considering the comics' Negative Continuity, the movies also follow this trope with all the characters having new jobs depending on the story.
    • Mr. Chiu is an inverted example in that he's always some sort of boss, but to a different business every time. Up to Eleven in Old Master Q & "San-T" where it seems that all the jobs the trio are trying to get are all run by Mr. Chiu.
  • Oblivious to Love: More often than not, Master Q's attempts to woo his on-off girlfriend, Miss Chan, would end up like this instead. In the 2001 movie, Master Q managed to give Miss Chan a diamond ring, only for her to thank him for a wonderful wedding present... because she's getting married in a week, but NOT to him.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: The strips in which Master Q dreamt of having done something wonderful or even impossible (from catching a huge fish to getting married) is then revealed to have inexplicably happened for real once he wakes up.
  • Rock–Paper–Scissors: Parodied in many ways. One of the jokes is Master Q winning in the game against Santa and takes away all his presents.
    • One of them starts with a rule: who loses gets punished by the winner, such as if rock wins, the winner punches the loser; if paper wins, the winner slaps the loser. When Master Q beats Mr. Chiu's Paper with Scissors, he literally cuts Mr. Chiu's hand.
  • Rule of Funny: A lot of nonsensical things happen for the sake of quick gags.
  • Slippery Skid: Often happens thanks to Banana Peel, roller skates, soap bars, toy cars, etc.
  • Smurfette Principle: Miss Chan, Master Q's usual love interest is the only recurring female character outside of the trio.
  • Spice Up the Subtitles. The animated movies that date from 1981-1983 had swear words in the burnt-in subtitles that range from everything but the F-word itself. Unusual in that it's official.
  • Super Window Jump: Master Q attempts to do this here, but as it turns out, jumping through a pane of glass results in being cut up by the shards.
  • Suspender Snag: One short plays this for Black Comedy, where Master Q, after an argument with his girlfriend, tried killing himself by jumping off a cliff, only for his suspenders to be snagged by a branch midway where he ends up dangling in mid-air in a comical fashion.
  • Time Travel: The second animated film had Master Q, Potato and Mr Chin traveling back to Water Margin, in the way of Mr Chiu's time machine.
  • Troll: Sometimes Master Q annoys Mr. Chiu or the other way round for no reason. Often leads to the two of them fighting.
    • Occasionally, Master Q annoys anybody else for no reason, such as when someone is reading a book, he takes it away.
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast: As the series description above states, the main characters are put in all sorts of roles.
  • Use Your Head: Big Potato is often shown to be able to break through a stone wall or cripple someone with his head-butts.
  • Vague Age: Master Q is Old. How old is never quite clear due to his varying levels of athleticism.
  • Would Hit a Girl: In the comics, when a woman has hurt him (or wronged him in some way) Master Q has no qualms about giving them the what-for.