Saturday, June 26, 2010

My interview in comic newsletter 14:59

14:59 is a monthly newsletter published by Monsters Under The Bed, partnered by the Singapore Association of Comic Artists. In the June Holiday Issue, 14:59 carries an interview of myself, conducted by Jerry Hinds (President of ACAS) and edited by Ryan Ong.

You can click on the images to read the interview clearly:

 Click on image below to read second page of interview!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Regulate, not Censor! PART 2 (So you know this is very important)

 Here is another comic I did in support of Arts Engage, the group making a stand about Regulate Not Censorship in Singapore.

We need all kinds of artists. Some artists produce works that are good for young people and families. Other artists are like a scout inside an army unit: they sniff out the latest trend, and by their example, the rest of us can either choose to follow or take a different path.

In a way, these artists are like hunting dogs. They lead us to our targets. By censoring them, we will lose our chances to compete. We will always be following (poorly) in other country's footsteps.

Local artists are like our own hunting dogs. They take the lead in sniffing out what a society wants and feels. When censorship is used to stop artists, we lose the chance to become like a culturally-vibrant first-world country.

I have seen local artworks in books and theater that inspired me like no foreign art can. I am committed to creating comic books for my young readers, but I look to some of my friends in theater, comics and literature to show me different perspectives. Artists like playwright Alfian S'aat, Haresh Sharma, musician Stefanie Sun, Theater practitioners Alvin Tan, Kok Heng Luen, Ivan Heng, Tan Kheng Hua, writers like Ng Yi-Sheng, Johann S Lee, performers Kumar and Hossan Leong, filmmakers Boo Junfeng, Royston Tan, Loo Zihan etc etc etc. My own comic works are made richer by me learning from comic artists like Miel, Heng Kim Song, Morgan Chua, Troy Chin, Sonny Liew etc etc etc. 

At one point or the other, each of these artists have made something that I don't totally agree with, but if they were censored, I would never have the opportunity to make my own choice.

Some of our civil servants may still be operating as if this is the 20th Century. They see local artists as irresponsible kids who will say anything. But local artists have grown up, and we continue to be relevant and we continue to contribute to Singapore positively.

This is the 21st Century, and with the Internet, censorship does not work. Local art plays an important role in shaping competitive, intelligent citizens by giving us a voice of our own. So that the world knows what we stand for and respect us.

The Singapore government has a choice to either damage cutting-edge local art by censorship, or nurture it by properly regulating the arts (eg. ratings such as PG, R, NC16). 

And you have a voice in how our government chooses. 

Please sign the Position Paper by Arts Engage, and thank you for making a difference in our Singapore!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Say NO to Censorship. YES to Regulation in Singapore!

Please signing the petition on this link:

Growing older is like moving into a higher condominium with a better view.

Today, I met up with a few old acquaintances and friends from the theater circle. They included T Sasitharan (Theatre Training and Research Programme), Tan Tarn How (who wrote "The Lady of Soul and the Ultimate S Machine"), Alvin Tan (The Necessary Stage) and Ivan Heng (W!ld Rice Productions). 
Sasitharan and friends are part of Arts Engage, an independent group formed by artists from different fields. The purpose is to get Singapore governing bodies and Singaporeans to understand that Blanket Censorship is bad for us.
Blanket Censorship means that, as long as a piece of Art is disagreeable to anyone, that piece of Art will be cut from all Singaporeans! 

I grew up in an era of Blanket Censorship. I know the effects of it. Since a lot of important ideas and concepts are shielded from local citizens, many of us do not know how to express ourselves properly. From simple things like saying 'Thank you' to the bus drivers, to more complicated stuff like talking about racial and religious issues respectfully but openly. 
Even at home, many of us do not know how to carry out a meaningful conversation with our family members. Many of us cannot relate to our colleagues other than about basic "you do this" stuff. And most of us are tongue-tied in front of strangers. 
That is the Big Issue I have with Blanket Censorship. We created a nation of Hello Kitties!

We are fortunate to have the Internet. The Internet made censorship impossible. But local artists continue to be censored. That means that you and me, even when we become adults, do not have access to the cutting edge ideas of our local artists. If Singaporeans cannot express ourselves adequately, we lose out when we have to engage internationally with foreign talents, businesses and politicians. We simply do not know how express ourselves, to speak our minds and state our case!
I know, what's this got to do with Sir Fong comics? Afterall, I made sure the comics are safe for younger readers and will not likely have to face censorship. BUT as a fellow artist, a fellow Singaporean, I understand the value of having proper regulation rather than blanket censorship. Having grown up and matured as a person and artist, I saw a larger perspective. I got a pretty good view of the ills of censorship. So I support Arts Engage!

Please support them by signing the petition on this link:

Thank you!

Cover of Sir Fong 2

Cover of Sir Fong 2