Thursday, January 31, 2008

Buddy Buddy p17 + p18

I have been working on my dream project of recapturing the magic of Journey To The West for more than 2 years now (a sample is shown above). It has come a long way from the Monkey King in Buddy Buddy (below).

I am very proud of this first baby. The drawing skill was certainly raw, but the story and the heart were all right!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Buddy Buddy p15 + p16

It's no wonder why Monty Python remains one of the greatest comedy team the world has known. I'd recently became clearer that behind the jokes they make, there is always something quite profound:

"Is life just a game where we make up the rules
While we search for something to say
Or are we just simply spiralling coils
Of self-replicating DNA?"

Below is Buddy Buddy:

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Buddy Buddy p13 + p14

This is a piece I did for fun. That's during a time when my computer hung a lot. :)
And here's page 13 and 14 of Buddy Buddy, as promised. As u can see, the leading characters on the cover page haven't shown up yet! They will soon!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Buddy Buddy p11 + p12

When I was a kid and first laid eyes on The Joker of Batman comics, I was genuinely frightened. So I was really excited when Empire movie magazine previewed the new Joker from the upcoming summer movie The Dark Knight.

The last time we saw The Joker on the big screen, he was played by Jack Nicholson in 1989. While Nicholson's portrayal was really great, he was more funny than evil. But Heath Ledger, the critically-acclaimed actor made famous by the movie Brokeback Mountain, was determined to recreate the Joker as was originally conceived by Bob Kane - sinister, evil.

After The Dark Knight wrapped up principal photography, Heath Ledger was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Tuesday.

It is very sad that someone so talented and dedicated to his craft was stopped in his prime. I remembered when River Phoenix, another great young actor passed away in 1993, who made me cry buckets in the movie Stand By Me. It still hurts now to think of it, because I still have no answer to the question:

The next post of Buddy Buddy will be on Monday. I am attending a killer course the whole weekend.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Buddy Buddy p9 + p10

Did you notice that Hiro (pictured above), the only Asian superhero in the hit tv series HEROES, is also the only character that readily embraced his powers? Everyone else - the Westerners - see their powers as burdens, something that must be hidden to protect their loved ones!

A lot of western superheroes hide their true identity. For example, Peter Parker keeps his secret that he is Spiderman. The movie catch phrase is "with great power comes great responsibilities."

I attended a talk at National Library conducted by Shawn Siow, assisted by Ocean, from Funix. He offered a view that Western superhero comics take Christianity's Jesus Christ as the basic template - where a hero is often a Chosen One whose powers save others but bring himself suffering. Manga superhero comics are heavily influenced by Buddhism. Since everyone can become a Buddha, even a commoner can be a comic book hero.

That's why Hiro Nakamura is the only one who can't wait to 'save the world' in HEROES! He does not see his powers as a burden.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Buddy Buddy p7 + p8

The one-off comic above was done just for fun in 2001.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Buddy Buddy p5 + p6

The logo "Star Wars" is familiar to many of us, but if you check out the figures of Snowtrooper, R2D2 and C3PO, you'd see that they are somewhat different.

This set of Star Wars action figures are specially created to honor one of the key concept artists, Ralph McQuarrie. McQuarrie was crucial in bringing George Lucas's visions into being, creating in his sketches some of the most iconic characters of our generation.

And here's page 5 and 6 of Buddy Buddy:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Buddy Buddy p3 + p4

This is a Taiwanese "Super Cute Paper Idol Doll" - that's the best I can translate. You can buy them as single sheets of colourfully-printed cardboard. It's easy to assemble - just tear along the perforated outlines, and fold along the dotted lines! In minutes you can have your little army of traditional Chinese gods and mythical creatures to welcome the Year Of the Rat and ward off evil spirits!

And here's page 3 and 4 of Buddy Buddy.
(click on images for larger yada yada)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Buddy Buddy p1 and p2

Buddy Buddy came hot on the heels of a mega-budget film production of the Monkey King mythology. The film was titled "Uproar In Heaven", helmed by Zhang Jianya. Zhang was a classmate of Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige in Beijing Film Academy. I was privileged to be employed as his assistant. Ultimately, the promised budget did not come through, so the film was not completed. But it was via working on it that I rediscovered my true love of comics.

By now, you can see that the central characters in all my comics are monkeys!
Enough fun facts, so let's get on with the comic. I present to you page 1 and 2 of my first baby - Buddy Buddy.

(Don't forget you can click on the images for a larger view anytime!)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Announcement: My First Comic in English

That's a picture of me enjoying Taiwanese delights during New Year Eve in Taipei. AND I have new, regular posts from today onwards!

In 1996, my sister informed me that she is expecting her first child, a baby boy. My first nephew! Before that knowledge, I knew only I loved drawing and that I loved comics. The news that I will be an uncle inspired me to put two and two together, and I started on my first comic book project.

I started work on Buddy Buddy. I enrolled the help of Zu Liang, a Malaysian course mate studying in Beijing Film Academy at the time. He gave me valuable feedback and contributed greatly to the script throughout the process. When I showed the drafts to a dear friend Xu Tianduo, at the time a publisher in Youyi Publishing in China, he committed to publishing it!

In January 1998, the book became a realty. It is one of the first comic book created by a Singaporean published in China. The drawing and concept are raw, and I had to abandon the idea of a 'book 2' because of the economic downtown then. I still loved it.

As I am working towards Sir Fong 3, I will also present my first out-of-print comic book to you here, in English. I will make a post of two pages every other day from tomorrow onwards. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I enjoy that rush of finally finding my true passion.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I Found My Motivation for Sir Fong 3!

Last night, at local film distributor Festive Films' invitation, I watched the preview of Le Grand Chef. The title sounded French, but it’s really a Korean blockbuster.

Food culture has provided many Asian artists with tasty material for movies and comics such as Lee Ang’s Eat Drink Man Woman, manga Shota-no-sushi ( 将太の寿司 ) and the Korean television phenomenum The Great Janggeum (sounds like The Great Chewing Gum, haha). Le Grand Chef is originally a comic too, and takes the genre to some wonderful new heights.

All the yummy elements are here: the youthful, talented (and good-looking) chef falls from grace, loses his confidence and drops out of the scene. Years later, he is drawn back into the fray by a competition, and his old archrival returns to laugh at, hate and fight him. The loving (occasionally scary as it featured a fish prepared while it was still alive! Eeek!) shots of food preparation are here in abundance, as every top-grade ingredient comes with an emotional backstory. Each subsequent backstory – how the best coal maker learns his craft, how the best meat comes from a life-long companion – builds towards the finale, which promises to transcend even the most heart-breaking personal story.

It is this final touch that really puts things in perspective for me. It is as a scene in Ratatouille, where a food critic whose heart has turned cold by a lifetime of tasting mediocre food was transported back to the moment that inspired him the most. I, too, was transported back to the moment that inspired me to create my own little comic Sir Fong.

It was 2001. I was a new teacher who was given the charge of a class of hopeful, bright and frightened kids. They are born in the year of the Rabbit. They looked to me for guidance, and in my inexperience and personal angst, I was unable to at first. My charges were at each other’s throats, bullying and hurting classmates and themselves.

Then one night, after a year of attending meditation classes at Kwan Yin Chan Lin Zen Centre, my anger at my students turned to acceptance.

The kids were as they should be! They were not supposed to be more obedient, better behaved or more docile. They were simply being themselves. And It is my duty to love and accept them as they are. Only then can they show their true potential! I stopped thinking of them as little devils out to hurt others.

The next day, I went to class. Again, the usual complaints about the bullying flew in my face. Instead of getting angry, I called them my Energizer Bunnies. The students looked surprised, because I was smiling warmly.

Little by little, I started converting their pranks to short comics. Instead of berating them, I started making fun of my own reaction to their actions. And I showed them my little comics on the projector. Our interactions slowly changed from sessions of Whodunits to shared joy and acceptance of everyones’ differences.

When Le Grand Chef ended, I left the theatre hungry for food (good food movies have that effect on the audience). But I also left the theatre with my soul refreshed.

I told my partner that I had re-discovered the reason for drawing Sir Fong 3. It should be a book that serves up my passion for teaching Science. It should be drawn with a conviction that it will be my best gift to all the students who have ever graced my life and made my eight years in Raffles Institution meaningful.

With that, I can begin drawing my bunnies and of course, my Sir Fong.

May your 2008 be a happy one!

Cover of Sir Fong 2

Cover of Sir Fong 2