Back To The Drawing Board: The Rise Of Singapore Comic Artists
STORY: Nicholas Yong
24 September 2021
Who or what comes to mind when you hear the phrase "local comics"?
For millennials like me, it would probably be Mr Kiasu or the Bookworm Club (which you might have seen a resurgence of recently becausae of their comic collaboration with Clean & Green Singapore). Others would probably point out the long-running "Chew On It!" strip by Lee Chee Chew or "The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye" by Sonny Liew. My friends say The Woke Salaryman, Robert The Otter, and Corgiyolk are always on their Insta feeds.
The truth is, Singapore’s comic scene is wayyy bigger than I first thought – and includes everything from webcomics to full-fledged graphic novels. Here, some veterans and rising stars from our Little Red Dot you should be following right now.
If you attended NDP 2016, you might remember "The Legend of Badang" illustrated by Elvin Ching aka Zeropointfive (if you haven't, read about this classic SG hero here). He’s drawn trading cards for - wait for it - Marvel, and his short stories were published in the Eisner-nominated anthology Liquid City. He’s also the artist for the Danger Dan and Gadget Girl books, as well as the Secrets of Singapore series. Look out for his latest work, "The Woodsmen".
Foo Swee Chin
Some find her fantastical artwork a little creepy, others think it's quirky – either way, you can definitely tell it belongs to Swee Chin or FSc. She has illustrated several internationally published comic books: "Mince", "A Lost Stock of Children", "Chimney 25", and "Zeet". She’s also the creator of a few Japanese works: "Nihon wo Mezasu!" and "Nihon la".
Forgot to take your mask when you headed out? Buay tahan being stuck at home? Confirm you will relate to "Chronicles of a Circuit Breaker", Joseph Chiang’s memoir of CB life last year. He is also the founder of the Young Printmakers League, a mentorship programme to nurture young artists in art of creative printmaking.
Ang Min Jia
These tales of Little Fox and friends by Min Jia aka Jang are subtle reminders of how we can do good and be grateful, especially in these trying times. Through her art, Jang has pushed for social causes including fundraising for Make A Wish Singapore and the Alzheimer’s Disease Association.
Joshua Chiang is the mastermind of Cereal Box Studios based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The studio has done commissioned works for SP Group, Ministry of Social Development and Family Services, and Singapore's Families for Life. Check out his mini-comic series "Ronin Rat and Ninja Cat".
How To Eat Snake
Sian of your bosses and annoying colleagues? You’ll feel right at home with Ah Snek in the How to Eat Snake comics (a literal translation of “Jiak Zhua” meaning slacking at work). The anonymous artist (group of artists?) that draw this funny working-life comic is a genuine mystery. Also check out their animated comics on TikTok.
Daniel Wang takes popular characters from Harry Potter, Star Wars and the Marvel universe and reimagines them in unusually out-of-character scenarios – sometimes in really Singapura settings. Oh, and you’ll also find lots of cats too.
Alan’s artwork has appeared in A-list video games such as "Assasin’s Creed: Brotherhood", "Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands", and "Ghost Recon". Last year, he teamed up with tokuAsia to draw the origin story "Sacred Guardians" for Singapore superhero Sacred Guardian Singa. His upcoming comic, "The UnXplainable", was successfully funded on Kickstarter.
We’ve only scratched the surface of our local comic scene. Here are another 7 Singapore Instagram comics you should really be following right now, including the three above - The Woke Salaryman, Robert The Otter and Corgiyolk.