Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Finally Found The Name of Totto's School!

It is amazing what you can get when you really, really listen to other people!

If I look back on this November 2009, I would call it my "I Just Realised I Never Listened to Anything or Anybody In My Life" Day!

Remember what your mom said when you were young? "Listen carefully!"

Remember what your teacher said everyday in primary school? "Listen up!"

When I talk to my friends, all I wanted was to talk. I wasn't interested in what they had to say. I was more interested in what I want to say to them!

Since I already knew what I was going to say, my conversations were usually quite boring to me.

Starting last week, something changed. I decided to start conversations by opening my ears instead of my mouth. When I gave a talk at Tanjong Katong Secondary School about comics, I said to myself, "I am going to listen to what the students say to me!"

I asked the students this question: "Do you know why I drew my first batch of students in RI as bunnies?"

Here's what I heard:

To that brilliant girl who gave me that incredible answer, I have this to say: "thank you! You just named the school that Totto and his pals in 'Sir Fong' studies in!"

Henceforth, Totto, Abby and their classmates study at Rabbit Institution. :>

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Win the new Sir Fong from What's Up online!

What's Up interviewed me on their current issue here:

And you can win a copy of the new book if you can answer their questions about Inventors here:

Also, thank you to those of you who wrote to me about my previous blog post. (As some of you have read, I was upset when I found out that a Manga Guide to Physics is now in the market.) Your perspectives on the subject are valuable:

1. Competition shows that there is a good market out there for Science comic books!

2. It raises awareness to parents and students - reading such books at an earlier age is very useful to building a good foundation in Science learning!

3. My books have strengths that the other books do not have: a. it is drawn by a person with 8 years' experience in teaching Science, b. the same artist has years of experience drawing comics and c. he also wrote theatrical plays for many years so the story-telling in Sir Fong is strong.

4. Their books don't have Totto the Killer Rabbit!

5. Great artists have put in much more hard work before making it. For example, James Cameron slept 4 hours a day to complete the Titanic movie! Why am I complaining when all I have to do is to work harder for my dreams?!?

Last Thursday, I was invited by a Science teacher to give a talk to his form class at Shu Qun. He personally bought each of his form class students a book of mine. This teacher went out of his way to organise something special for his students, and they also get a permanent reminder of his care for them in the form of my autographed books. They are lucky to have him as their teacher. I am lucky to have him take the effort to invite me to his class. And that really pulls me out of my self-pity mode!

Thank you all!

Yours sincerely,

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Doom of Sir Fong?

Dear readers,

Sometimes, it seems pointless to draw comics in Singapore.

Why bother? Americans have the cultural advantage. They can reach millions via their superior technology ala Facebook, iPhones, Hollywood CGI and XBox. So Spiderman and Iron Man can be rejuvenated via amazing movies, and the franchise is kept alive by really cool toy lines.

The Japanese have their Manga. It's all the youngsters want to emulate nowadays. Japanese manga is drawn by armies of artists tapping into the winning formula of big doeful eyes and school girl uniforms.

I can't tell you how long it took for me to find an idea that the Americans or Japanese have not uncovered. From creating Totto the bunny in 2001, to publishing the first Sir Fong and finally redirecting the whole creation into Science adventures, it has taken me 8 years.

Yesterday, my friend went to Kinokuniya.

"I saw that they brought in this Manga Guide To Physics," He told me, "And I said to myself: oops, there goes Otto's monopoly on Science comics."

Was he almost gleeful when he said that, or was it just my imagination?

Today, another friend brought me a copy of the book. Her school is buying them. Shouldn't all schools snap up my Sir Fong titles instead? 

How can I, one person, fight an army of Manga creators from Japan?

It's moments like these that make me question the road I am taking. It's moments like these that  doubt creeps in, and suddenly one feels very tired and defeated. Yet, when I quit my teaching job, I knew my determination would be tested. 

I know I'm not supposed to whine. I made my bed so I should sleep in it. I should know the odds of reaching for the stars. I should strong and forge ahead. I should . . . but don't you have moments like this?

Hopefully, when I update this blog again, I have renewed faith in my path. Not tonight. But thanks again for reading my blog . . .


Friday, October 16, 2009

Thank you to Wellington Primary and Radin Mas Primary!

Before this update, I'll just share a little comic humour with you. This is me and another friend at a Hari Raya open house by a friend. I took the picture, added a few eyes and 'food splatter' with Photoshop, and walah! Instant fun. :D

I've had a great time visiting two primary schools this month: Wellington Primary and Radin Mas Primary.

I gave an assembly talk at Wellington (it's located in the North-most of Singapore nearest to Johor Bahru). The whole school was just amazing. The students listened aptly, and responded enthusiastically to my questions. Not once did I have to raise my voice, because everyone listened intently. I concluded that Wellington must've some pretty good teachers, administrators and leaders. My biggest regret was that my time there was short, and I did not get an opportunity to take any photos of my visit. But thank you to all who bought my books - I hope you've found them enjoyable and useful!

The other school I visited was Radin Mas Primary (they are in Bukit Purmei). I didn't give any talks, but fliers were distributed. The response was amazing. I was busy signing books throughout the recesses!

Between recess and end-of-school, I had time to walk around the canteen. The school has a great emphasis on using cartoons and comics to communicate with the students, and also they encourage students to use the comic medium to showcase their ideas and messages. From "Conserving Electricity", "The Importance of Hygiene" to just students expressing themselves using digital art, this school really knows how to speak to the students using a language the kids love and understand. My friend Miel's works about public hygiene are prominently featured to remind kids to wash their hands before a meal.

I also noticed that the school sends out festive greetings to the community via the students' drawings. That not only foster a closer relationship between the school and the surrounding residence, but it reminds us that the different cultural festivals are reasons to celebrate Singapore's diversity and multi-cultural/ethnic population.

Thank you again to students of both schools! May your stay in your respective schools be full of happy memories and proud achievements!

Otto aka "Sir Fong"

17th Oct 2009

Cover of Sir Fong 2

Cover of Sir Fong 2