DIY comic book creator Troy Chin is back with a collection of tales that he hopes will “strip away the glamor of the (music) business and expose the sad, pitiful realm where delusions , ego and greed form a potent recipe for disaster.” These humorous short stories serve both as cautionary tales and historical dissertation on the music industry from the viewpoint of insider (Troy actually worked in the music industry in the 00s), fan and critic.
Continue reading “TROY CHIN: BRICKS IN THE WALL [REVIEW]”
Epigram Books launches its line of Singapore comix on 17th November, with a panel discussion consisting of local creators.
Strictly speaking, this is not a review of Sonny Liew‘s Malinky Robot: Collected Stories & Other Bits, which I already assessed here. This time around, I am sharing with you the newly minted Limited Edition Box Set which includes the book as well as a variety of goodies.
Continue reading “MALINKY ROBOT: COLLECTED STORIES & OTHER BITS [LIMITED EDITION BOX SET]”
I featured local cartoonist Troy Chin and his autobio comic, The Resident Tourist, in January 2010 promising at the end to find out more about Troy and his work. Naturally, nothing has happened in that regard until recently when I finally met Troy at Mulan Gallery and truth be told we hit it off immediately!
When we saw each other again at the Loti Gone Case in Wonderland panel discussion, Troy passed me everything that he has published so far – 5 volumes of The Resident Tourist and 3 volumes of Loti. Later on Troy sent me an email saying “In case you somehow feel obligated, you really don’t have to review any of my stuff. I just want you to read them so you know all the shit that I stand for.”
So here I am NOT reviewing The Resident Tourist (Parts 1 to 5)! Seriously. After all, The Resident Tourist is such an important Singaporean work that a mere review would seem disrespectful. In many ways, The Resident Tourist is an academic dissection into Singaporean attitudes, mores and culture hidden within the Trojan (sorry, could not resist) Horse of Troy’s ostensible autobio.
Hot issues such as the meaning of art, money, love and identity within the Singaporean experience are explored in such a creative manner that Singapore readers will probably not even be aware that their very existence is being questioned and challenged. Troy brilliantly utilizes his major relationships with Mint, Kampong Boy and the encounters with friends, acquaintances and enemies in Singapore and in New York to subtlety hammer home Troy’s worldview.
I don’t really want to act as a spoiler or to offer my own critique of Troy’s unique life perspective but suffice to say that if you’re visiting Power of Pop on a regular basis, it behooves you to check out The Resident Tourist (especially if you’re Singaporean). I guarantee that it will at least offer you food for thought as you struggle to make sense of your own Singapore experience.
For me personally, I am thankful to have met Troy and perhaps gotten to know him a little via The Resident Tourist but ultimately wanting to know much more… I am sure you will feel the same way.
Singapore comic books (or graphic novels, whatever) has long been trying to earn artistic recognition in its homeland. Perhaps it is a measure of how far comic books (and its creators) have come since the darkest days of former times, that the Singapore Writers Festival 2011, has dedicated events for our local comic books & creators.
This panel discussion (at 3.30pm this afternoon) brought together Sonny Liew (Malinky Robot), Troy Chin (Resident Tourist, LOTI), Dave Chua and Koh Hong Teng (writer-artist team behind Gone Case). A fairly good crowd awaited them at the Transaction Pavilion as moderator Terence Chua led the four creators through a discussion of personal histories and motivations.
To be truthful, it was all rather genteel and polite. Only when the panel discussion was opened to questions from the floor that matters livened up a little. As usual, there were queries that were astute, unfathomable and painfully irrelevant. For the last one, the person probably had the best intentions in asking a totally academic question but the endeavour fell flat as the panel struggled to make sense of his question. Hurm.
In the final analysis, it was encouraging to see a sizable group of local comic book fans engaged with the creators during the discussion as well as the subsequent signing sessions. If nothing else, it points the way to an increasing awareness and appreciation of local comic books as a genuine artform. And that can only be a good thing…
Troy Chin is the author and artist behind Loti and The Resident Tourist. His comics have appeared in the Image Comics anthology, Liquid City, been translated to Thai.
This evening, LOTI, Vol. 2 will be launched at BooksActually. LOTI, Vol. 2 is now available in print and collects strips 301 to 600 and includes two extra chapters of new strips.
Date: 22.07.2010, Thursday
Time: 7.30 pm
Venue: BooksActually (No. 86 Club Street, Singapore)
Official Site | RSVP at Facebook
Like the S-ROCK scene, the S-COMIX (yes, my rather clumsy catch-all term for comics made in Singapore) scene is D-I-Y to the max. There are no big comic book companies to give aspiring comics creators their break and to expose them to the world, with movie options waiting in the wings. No, very often it’s a lonely vocation with the only reward being the work itself.
However, like the S-ROCK scene, there are a couple of passionate individuals who love S-COMIX enough to commit time and money to its promotion and development. One such person is JF Koh (back row, 2nd from left), I first met JF when he was a part of the Audioload site and he has been a firm friend since. JF is also an aspiring creator and keen on promoting local comics in any way possible. He runs a site called Singapore Comics Wiki, with the objective of highlighting local comics and their creators.
Adrian Teo (front row, left) is another such passionate person and has gone as far as setting up as an indie publisher (Wayland Smith Projects) which has published Troy Chin’s Resident Tourist series and Ken Foo’s Freedom Love Forever Graphic Novel. Adrian and JF organized a launch event for Date King (a collaboration between Adrian and Ken) cum meet and greet with other S-COMIX creators at Books Actually on Friday (9th April)
Considering the obscure nature of the event, Books Actually was packed to the gills as the S-COMIX creators chatted about the local comics scene and various related topics. Apart from JF and Adrian, also present were Ken Foo (back row, left), Cheah Sin Ann (back row, 2nd from right), Ye Zhen (back row, right) and Budi Wijaya (front row, right). A fun time was had by all, in getting to know the creators in attendance, purchasing comics and general networking. Hopefully, the local comics scene will go from strength to strength, it certainly deserves to do so, if the passion shown at this event is anything to go by. Do your part, check out the creators below and if you like what you see, purchase their work.
Cheah Sin Ann
Pic courtesy of Tueac and Ani-Culture.
… still there’s more …
DATE KING BOOK LAUNCH + LOCAL CREATORS MEET & GREET SESSION
Date: 9 April 2010 FRIDAY
Time: 7.30pm to 9.30pm
Venue: BOOKS ACTUALLY 86 CLUB STREET
Iconoclastic S-Comix creator, Ken Foo, is back already with new material, launching his latest work – in collaboration with Adrian Teo – Date King – this Friday at Books Actually. I copied this from Ken’s blog.
“Come join the book launch along with a number of other local creators like Ye Zhen (Singapore Hip Hip Horror Comics), Cheah Sin Ann (Billy & Saltie: Cool Croc) to name a few who will be there for this joint session. The creators will be there to sign autographs and meet up with their fans.
So be there or be square. Or as Date King likes to say, ‘It’s a date!’”
How could you refuse?
Check out Singapore Comics’ interview with the talented Ken Foo here.
Thanks to JF for the link.
And the discovery process continues…
Meet Stanley Lau, cover artist extraordinaire who is, in the words of Rachel Gluckstein (the editor of DC Comics’ The Web series) – “a rising star here at DC”. And… yes, Lau is based in Singapore!
Check out Lau’s artwork in greater detail here and here. You will agree that Lau is a truly gifted artist.
Stay tuned for more Stanley Lau goodness at the Power of Pop.
FREEDOM LOVE FOREVER by Ken Foo. Published by Wayland Smith Projects.
Yes, the same Ken Foo I’ve been recently raving over actually has a graphic novel out on sale now. Contained in its numerous pages lie so many ambitious ideas and concepts that you begin to wonder whether Foo has over-reached himself somewhat. I guess this book features all the short stories that Foo has been writing/drawing for years and years, in anticipation of this moment in time. However, there is nothing here that suggests that Foo is out of his depth as he covers diverse ground and formats to tell his quirky and idiosyncratic tales.
We have “straightforward” comic book narratives (eg. Yell Bloody Murder), text with illustrations (eg. the sad faced passionate-eyed boy) and something in-between (eg Little Mechanic Daniel) peppered throughout Freedom Love Forever. Bubbling under the existentialist story lines is a strong offbeat sense of humour.
My personal favourites are the trilogy of Bird Bird + Pig Pig + Bear Bear, Winter Walker and Midnight Monkey Blues – all of which display the right elements of fine art, off-the-wall writing and tongue-in-cheek humour – that will appeal to all lovers of intelligent and mature story-telling.
Freedom Love Forever is certainly worth picking up and will no doubt provide you with hours of entertainment, bewilderment and laughter.
Ken Foo’s Official Site
Wayland Smith Projects Site
Y’know, when I finally realized what Sonny Liew had achieved in the world of comics (better late than never), I must confess that I had a lump in my throat. Imagine that, a Singapore based comic artist that has worked with Marvel, Image, Disney and has actually been nominated for an Eisner award!
What hole have I been hiding under all these years, eh?
Suffice to say that I intend to get to the bottom of this pretty soon by featuring a little more Sonny Liew on the Power of Pop, certainly a review of the upcoming Liquid City Vol. 2, which the man himself was kind enough to send my way. Stay tuned and all that.
Here’s the cover to whet your appetites.
… still there’s more …
And the quest for S-Comix continues… with the latest discovery being Ken Foo.
Over at his site, you will find various comic strips which will either blow your mind or offend you no end. Guess if you’re a typical Singaporean, then the latter would be the case. But if you are able to appreciate art as it is presented, then you will agree with me that Foo is indeed a unique S-Comix talent.
Shamelessly nihilistic and filled with biting satire, Foo’s darkly humorous stories are illustrated with pristine Geoff Darrow-influenced Euro-centric fervour (fever?), except for his supposedly autobio work, which is reminiscient of US indie comix. Whatever the style, the approach seldom differs as Foo drags your emotions from tickled to terrified within a couple of panels. Excellent!
Thus, if you have the stomach for the penetrating glare of Foo’s distinctive work, then you would do well to mosey along to kenfoo.com and bear witness to a unique talent.
… still there’s more …
Regular PoP visitors will be aware that for the best part of the 80s, I was a rabid comic book collector. To such an extent, that from about 1986 to about 1988, the only LPs I purchased were U2’s Joshua Tree and Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love. Of course, I haven’t been a collector for some years now, for various reasons – I will not bore you with the details.
Autobio comics was one particular genre that I found intriguing, where creators would tell stories about THEMSELVES! In the 90s, the likes of Harvey Pekar (American Splendor), Chester Brown (Yummy Fur), Seth (Palookaville), Joe Matt (Peep Show), Dennis Eichhorn (Real Stuff) led the way, to firmly establish this nascent genre.
But… as mentioned before, as far as recent comics was concerned, I was out of the loop. So imagine my surprise, when I casually queried from JF Koh (after the Tatsumi event) about Singapore comics and the name Troy Chin came up. Of course, being clueless, I had no idea. This necessitated a certain amount of online research and it did not take long for me to land on Troy’s website, drearyweary.com.
At Troy’s site, you will find online versions of Troy’s works including his autobio The Resident Tourist, which is as good a place to start. And what’s Troy’s story? In a nutshell, Troy spent about a decade in the USA and has returned to Singapore (and NOT because he misses the food!!!) to reevaluate his life. I’ve only read Part 1 so far, but it is an impressive piece of autobio writing. Troy’s artwork is clean and reminiscent of manga styling – very functional and efficient in typical Singaporean fashion – but this serves him well as he faithfully represents various Singaporean buildings and landscapes. Also significant are Troy’s subtle commentaries on all things Singaporean and his musical references.
Fact is, the comic has been out for a couple of years now so that unfortunately reflects how repressed the Singapore pop cultural environment is. So keep your eye on the Power of Pop as I will try to highlight and promote the worthy S-Comix (yes, just coined that!) creators out there… beginning with a little more about Troy Chin and his works.
… still there’s more…