If you are familiar with the underground genre known as “autographical comics” and its lauded authors viz. Robert Crumb, Harvey Pekar, Art Spiegelman, Joe Matt, Chester Brown et al, then simply put, Troy Chin’s Resident Tourist is the Singaporean version.
The eighth part of cartoonist Troy Chin’s autobiographical work finds our protagonist still trying to make sense of life in Singapore.
Organised jointly by cartoonist Sonny Liew and writer-historian CT Lim in conjunction with the National Library, Speech Bubble is a exhibition showcase of the marginalised art form popularly known as comic books. The opening night event was held last night at the National Library, Basement 1 Central Public Library and I was fortunate to get invited!
At the launch of the seventh edition of Troy Chin’s The Resident Tourist held at Books Kinokuniya, the author himself mentioned to me that my reviews of his books are ‘biased’. Meaning that my glowing assessments of his work are somehow less than objective due to the fact that I appreciated their intrinsic value as art.
In Each Hand A Cutlass (IEHAC) – together with The Observatory – is probably one of Singapore’s premier progressive art-rock bands and thus, not only is it exciting news that IEHAC is currently recording a new album with legendary producer Brad Wood but in fact, has made available a two-track EP to whet appetites for the awesome new music to come.
These two tracks viz. the psych-folky “All We Are Left With Is A Memory Of A Memory” and the post-metallic “Appetite for Dysfunction” certainly do the job, especially if you love prog rock! And when you consider that the EP is going for a buck, then a purchase is simply a no-brainer, my friends.
Not only that but the band collaborated with comic artist Troy Chin for his online interactive comic, called Forgetting, which the song “All We Are Left With Is A Memory Of A Memory” is the soundtrack to. His excellent noir-style comic is at www.drearyweary.com/Forgetting – go forth and choose your own adventure.
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.
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…
Singapore comic book artist Troy Chin is launching LOTI (Vol.3) during the Singapore Writers Festival 2011. We caught up with Troy to get some of thoughts about the latest edition of LOTI.
What can fans expect from LOTI Vol. 3?
Expect more shenanigans from our pooch patrol as they navigate the third term of the school year. Loti Vol. 3 expands on the existing story with the chapters Sofie’s Diary and J Takes Flight, two specials not found in the daily strips that will change the way you view the original strips.
Can you describe briefly what LOTI is about for folks who’ve never read it?
Loti is a four-panel comic strip depicting childhood and schooling life in Singapore through the eyes of an eight-year-old. During his adventures, he finds a puppy in the neighbourhood and begins to discover what it means to be happy, and prompts the same question in the people around him.
What inspires you to continue to create comic books like LOTI?
Loti is really special to me. It allows me to write about all the stuff that little kids get to enjoy at that age, something that we as busy adults tend to forget or brush off. Loti is about the joy of waking up in the morning wanting to experience something new. It is a series that I feel if readers give it the time (whether they’re seven or seventy), they will eventually understand why personal happiness is not really that difficult or complicated to achieve.
What are your plans for promoting LOTI Vol. 3?
For the launch, there’s going to be a limited edition paper model kit of the eponymous puppy that will be given away with every book purchased. This is the beginning of a new project that I would like current fans to get involved in and hopefully bring in new readers to the world of Loti.
Can you give us more information about the upcoming book launch at SWF 2011?
Loti Vol. 3 will be launched at SWF 2011 on Sunday, October 30, 11:30am to 12:30pm at the Festival Pavilion, SMU Campus Green. Admission is free!
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)