Yan Wong

Humour in four squares

De-Yong Zhu's attention to details

De-Yong Zhu (*1960), 朱德庸, a renowned Taiwanese comic artist, achieved fame at the age of 25 with works like "Double Cannon (雙響炮)" and "Bitter Girl (澀女郎)". How does his life story serve as an inspiring role model for neurodivergent creatives?


Comic Squares -


De-Yong Zhu, a famous Taiwanese comic artist, picked up a pencil at the age of four and became a sensation in Taiwan at the age of 25. However, his journey to self-discovery was not easy, as he struggled with autism spectrum disorder and was only diagnosed in his 30s. For him, drawing became an outlet for his inner turmoil. 

Always Ready to Escape the Spotlight

De-Yong Zhu's aversion to being the centre of attention and engaging with strangers was evident from a young age. He would feel anxious and resist interactions with unfamiliar people. In a poignant incident during his childhood, he attempted to buy stamps for a classmate but found himself overwhelmed by anxiety. Instead of facing the situation, he handed all the money he had to his classmate, urging him to make the purchase.

This impulse to escape from unfamiliar situations persisted throughout his life, even after he has gained fame. During book launches and promotional events, he would struggle to maintain composure, often feeling his hands sweating and muscles trembling. Despite this, he pushed himself to overcome these challenges to continue his work and artistic pursuits.

A role model for celebrating one's uniqueness

"I finally realized that I'm not stupid after all." - De-Yong Zhu said with a smile.

Embracing the Quirks of Life

De-Yong Zhu's father was a student of Chiang Kai-shek in China and excelled academically. However, after moving to Taiwan, his father chose a modest government job and remained content with it. This decision puzzled De-Yong Zhu's mother, who felt her husband settled for less. Reflecting on his father's life, De-Yong Zhu realized that his father might have also been on the autism spectrum, and this understanding allowed him to appreciate his father's unique way of expressing love.

"So, I used to say that I felt close to my father, yet there was this sense of estrangement. Later, after my father passed away, I felt that during the years I spent with him, he didn't teach me anything specific, but he managed to convey love to me. I could feel the love he transmitted in the simplest way." - De-Yong Zhu in an interview.

Despite societal norms, De-Yong Zhu and his wife raised their own son in a non-traditional manner, avoiding unnecessary pressures and allowing him to find his own path. This approach empowered his son to make his own choices, leading to a fulfilling and self-directed life.

Observing the World from Inside a Glass Sphere

De-Yong's autism may confine him to his own world, but it also allowed him to distance himself and become an excellent observer of the world. He is very good at capturing and showcasing these diverse observations through his comics.  

"I love drawing comics because the discrimination I experienced during my childhood allowed me to see through the illusions of the world."- De-Yong Zhu in an interview.

At the age of 26, he created "Double Cannon [Facebook]", which delved into the intricate views of marriage among the Chinese. At that time, Taiwan's drastic changes were unfolding in society, and an unstoppable economic boom was taking place. On another occasion, while buying soy milk and fried dough sticks, he saw a young person on the street dressed in an unconventional manner. He then realized the emergence of differences between a new generation and traditions in Taiwan. This led him to create "The Vinegar Tribe," depicting the new generation of Taiwanese. In the mid-1990s, De-Yong Zhu began working on "Bitter Girl [Facebook]" reflecting the women of Taiwan's new era, such as "heartthrobs" and "strong women," each representing different love and life perspectives of urban women.

Finding Normalcy in Neurodiversity

Being diagnosed with autism gave De-Yong Zhu a sense of relief. He recognized that what he perceived as abnormal in himself was just a part of his neurodiversity. He found peace in the fact that what may appear strange or unconventional to others was perfectly normal in the context of autism.

In his artistic journey, De-Yong Zhu observed the world from the sidelines and discovered his unique perspectives. Through works like "Everyone Has a Disease" [Facebook] he depicted the complexities of human behaviour, providing commentary on modern society's consumerism and societal pressures.

De-Yong Zhu's life journey, from struggling with social anxiety and being diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome to becoming a renowned comic artist, serves as an inspiration for neurodivergent creatives. He transformed his unique perspective and experiences into compelling art that resonated with audiences across Taiwan and beyond. His ability to overcome challenges and embrace his identity as a neurodivergent individual makes him a role model for all aspiring creatives, proving that one's uniqueness can be a powerful source of creativity and success.


Here are some more resources about De-Yong Zhu, and how he serves as a positive example of autistic representation: 

De-Yong Zhu's Facebook

De-Yong Zhu's book "Everyone Has a Disease (大家都有病)" [Traditional Chinese]

De-Yong Zhu: From Autism Spectrum Disorder Patient to Renowned Comic Artist (朱德庸:從泛自閉症患者到著名漫畫家)

De-Yong Zhu: Asperger's Syndrome Makes Me More Normal than Regular People (朱德庸:亞斯伯格症讓我比正常人更正常)

Comic Artist De-Yong Zhu: Asperger's Allows Me to Find More Peace Within Myself (漫畫家朱德庸:亞斯伯格 讓我更能安頓自己)