Roger and Me

2016-03-10-Charlie-Chan-Hock-Chye.png I've never met Roger Langridge* - though somehow ours paths have crossed over time. Above is his pinup/review for The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, which he did with Manga Studio for the first time :)

I first encountered his work when I bought a copy of Fred the Clown, and there was an energy and style that reminded me of the Beano and Dandy cartoons I loved growing up (my mom would buy them from a bookstore in Seremban and me and my sis would copy pictures off 'em, Dennis the Menace, Billy Whizz, Roger the Dodger, the Bash Streets Boys and on and on)


(Beano Fanart by Cheryl Liew)

beano 2s

(Beano fanart by me)

For some reason Marvel comics put us together for a Spiderman short called "Nightmare Commute" in 2010, and it was one of those odd moments when you find yourself in contact with someone's work you'd read and assumed would always be at that author-reader distance. (Another was working with Marc Hempel on My Faith in Frankie, having read  Gregory)


After that, I'd ask  Roger to do pinups to help promote Malinky Robot and The Shadow Hero as well, and he's always game despite his busy schedule.

And I got the chance to sort of return the favour with an alternative cover for his series Abigail and the Snowman a couple of years back.


I guess the point of all this is maybe partly about the way the internet has allowed us to connect and work together in ways that would have been a lot more difficult when we were still using faxes and snail mail.

But more than that - Roger's generosity (and those of many others, from David Mazzuchelli to Robb Mommaerts,  Gene Yang to Aaron McConnell) reminds me of the need to be less solipsistic myself, less caught up in work and deadlines.

To try to always ask:

What Would Alan Rickman Do?

or again

and again

jeez louis

Ok back to erasing now, don't-call-me-I'll-call-you :p

PL826101Film Title Harry P

*edit: As it turns out this is a Lie, as Roger remembers : "...it was at the San Diego Comic Con... at a bar across the road from the convention centre, at some Disney-related thing. Charly LaGreca (of the Indie Spinner Rack podcast) introduced us, but it must have been after we’d already done the Spider-Man story, because I recall telling Charly we already “knew” one another through collaborating on that."

Yipes! Blur Sotong as usual :-0




Giant Robot

antoine-revoy-pin-up-art-of-charlie-chan-hock-chye-3 Illustrator and fellow RISD-ite Antoine Revoy did a pinup for The Art of Charlie Chan...! See his blog (and a colored version of the image) at:



Antoine is also releasing an intriguing Japanese horror influenced graphic novel called "Playground" from First Second soon, do check it out! http://www.pastemagazine.com/…/exclusive-first-second-annou…

Launch Week

charlie_chan_hock_chye_sepiaThe Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye was released this week internationally! The always amazing Robb Mommaerts did a pinup (see above!), do visit his blog to see more fantastic artwork :)

Some early reviews:

An Amazon link to buy the book here :)

Some interviews:



The Art of Charlie Chan is Out!

Artofchc-poster The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye from Pantheon Books

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye from Pantheon Books is out this week!

It was one of Publishers Weekly's Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2016, who say that the book is a "stunning tour de force masterpiece of imagined and real history" and that "this multilayered book is a masterpiece".

The Beat meanwhile calls it the "first superlative graphic novel... easily the first comics masterwork of 2016"

Do pick up a copy at your favourite bookstore or online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie BoundPowell's or Books-a-Million :)

Riotously funny, heartbreakingly beautiful, fizzing with provocative ideas... breathes life and intimacy into the multi-layered history of Malaysia and Singapore. Sonny Liew has produced a true masterpiece. " — Tash Aw  (The Harmony Silk Factory, Five Star Billionaire)



MoCCA  (April 02, 2016 - April 3, 201611:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m)

I'll be one of the Guest of Honors (!) at the MoCCA Festival in NYC in April, alongside Cece Bell, R.O. Belchman, Phoebe Gloeckner and Rebecca Sugar.

Midtown Comics

Paul Levitz and I will also be signing Midtown Comics on April 1, both for The Art of Charlie Chan and the new Doctor Fate trade from DC Comics.

I'll also be heading to various stores and events in New York, Rhode Island, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin and Arkansas, do check out this Blog or follow me on Twitter or Instagram for updates on dates and more :)

Mulan Gallery presents The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye

Finally, those in Singapore, do drop by Mulan Gallery from March 4-24 for an exhibition of original art work from The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye!

Venue : Mulan Gallery 36 Armenian Street #01-07 Singapore 179934 Exhibition Period : 4 - 24 March 2016

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 11.30am – 6.30pm. Closed on Mondays, Sundays and Public Holidays

The Doctor is In

cover12final3 Cover Art for Doctor Fate #12

DOCTOR FATE #12 Written by PAUL LEVITZ Art and cover by SONNY LIEW On sale MAY 18 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T The victorious Khalid returns to Brooklyn determined to get on with his life, but that’s easier said than done when you’re a novice superhero juggling romance, homework, and the untold powers of Doctor Fate. Fortunately, help comes in the form of a man who might know something about it: Uncle Kent Nelson.


pw3The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is one of Publishers Weekly's Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2016 in the Comics category. Alongside books by Daniel Clowes and Julie Doucet(!) http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/tip-sheet/article/69297-the-most-anticipated-books-of-spring-2016.html

"A stunning tour de force masterpiece of imagined and real history as Liew recreates the entire career of the titular cartoonist via art and photos to explore the history of both comics and Singapore."


The Art of Uranium

uranium2 Singaporean cartoonist Uranium featured in this New Nation piece by Irene Hoe from August 9, 1979.

A lot of his travails will sound familiar to cartoonists today - dreams of a comics magazine running into authorities who see comics as non-educational, facing problems with distribution, the lack of fulfilment in a job in advertising agencies, finding compromises to keep parts of the dream alive. With a love story thrown in as well :)

Here's the link to the archived articles: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/newspapers/Digitised/Article/newnation19790809-1.2.35.aspx


Uranium did go on to join the Straits Times as a cartoonist:

And below is a transcript of the piece :)

ps: Anyone who know the folks in the story: Uranium, Susan Koh, L J Holloway, Hou Soon Ming, Frank Ambrose, Chua Lark Koon... would love to be able to get in touch with them, so do let me know :)


Yippee! A Success

Cartoonist Uranium talks about the family he created in the children's mahgazibe nearly called Fantasyland

by Irene Hoe

Uranium likes children so he quit his job and started a family. In the short span of four months, he produced the Yippee! family with a little help from a friend. There was Yen Sen, Pigsy, Jerry Mongo, Mr Billion, Dynaman, Uncle Leng and many more. Then Uranium got married.

If that sounds rather unusual and unorthodox, it's because Uranium's tale isn't your ordinary run of the mill story. It's the story of how Yippee!, the children's magazine, came into being.

Once upon a time, Uranium was a layout artist in an advertising agency. In due course, he was promoted to visualiser and then assistant to the art director. He should have been happy but he felt he had come to a creative dead end. He recalls: "You can give your very best in advertising and the client just ignores you."

So he and his colleague Susan Koh gave up their jobs and sank their life savings into Yippee! She wrote the stories and he drew the pictures.

"We wanted to call it Fantasyland but weren't sure whether Walt Disney had a copyright on that name. So our brain-child became Yippee!"

The creative part was the least of their problems. The menagerie of characters who peopled the pages came naturally to them.

"Thinking up characters isn't very hard when you've been trained in advertising," says Urnanium.


Wherever possible they gave their characters an Asian flavour to balance the more westernised creations. So there was Uncle Leng, Yen Sen and Jerry Mongo to balance Mr Billions and Dynaman who was billed as Asia's Six Million Dollar Man.

Not all have survived. The more durable include Yen Sen who started as the principal character in a 13-part serial called Star Pagoda, and easternised Pilgrims' Progress. He stayed on to become Yippee!'s mascot. Jerry Mongo, an amiable buck-tooted and barechested native, had humbler beginnings. He used to present the crossword puzzles. Now he has his own column.

"Sometimes children ring up the office and ask to speak to Yen Sen or Jerry Mongo. Some want to ask Uncle Leng for advice," says Uranium.

Uranium and Susan also invented their contributors - names like Pasar Pan, the Grand Wizard, Comicons, Mr Ghostpimples, Kelvin Kiew and Henry Chia. "We wanted to give the impression we had a lot of staff," he explained rather sheepishly.

But creativity wasn't enough to sustain the magazine. The first issue sold between two and three thousand copies at a newstand price of 80 cents. That was in September 1976.

By Christmas they had to lower the price to 60 cents. Inbetween writing stories and editing the magazine, Susan canvassed for advertisements.

She wasn't too successful. A full colour as on the back ran to $1800 and "people felt they got better value in the Straits Times."


Agencies were only interested in circulation figures and Yippee! was having distribution problems in spite of having hired the services of a distributor for a 40 per cent cut of the cover price.

"It looked bad if a magazine didn't have a few ads so we put in a few for free hoping that the companies would buy space in future issues," said Uranium.

"But we still couldn't break even," recalls Susan. Printing costs were high and sales stagnated. So they ran deeper and deeper into the red.

"We were desparate," said Susan. She called the managing director of the Time Organization, Mr L J Holloway, and offered to sell Yippee! to Times. They struck a deal in two days.

"We lost about $20,000, I think. It was a big price to pay," she said.


Times paid off their debts and turned them into salaried employees. It was June 1977. They had carried their baby for nine months.

In retrospect they feel their biggest stumbling blkck was poor distribution. They had an impact beyond sales.

"Before we started Yippee, we did a study of children's magazines. We found that local magazines were not very good - especially in art work," said Uranium.

"Most publications think children are gullible and that they'll buy anything no matter how it's written or drawn. Our original idea was to make Yippee entertaining with lots of drawinfs - good quality pictures."


But teachers and principles felt the magazine was too much like a comic book. "When we tried to sell it in schools, they'd take one look and tell us they didn't want comics sold in the school."

Like parents, they wanted more writing, fewer illustrations. They wanted stories with morals, not the horror stories written by Mr Ghostpimples which were popular with the children.

So comics like Ali HaHa and the Four Teeth Thief gave way to "moral" comic sequences like Bully to the Rescue and The Amazing World of Mr Billion has sobered into Let's Find Out.

Sports or at any rate football has left its imprint in the form of Uncle Choo's Soccer Corner which take pride of place inside the front cover.

The funnies are still to be found but Uranium concedes Yippee! is going heavy on educational rather than purely entertainment features in order to win over teachers and parents. It's a policy tied unabashedly to the pursestrings. And it works. Increased parent-teacher approval means bigger sales and circulation has been climbgin steadily.

There are other factors. Now, instead of having a lone canvasser approach schools to sell Yippee!, representatives from Federal Publications have been roped in to promote the magazine as well as sell books. Since they visit schools more often, they find principlas and teachers more receptive when they present the magazine.

Yippee! is no longer a two-man show. Uranium still directs artistic operations but he has 17-year old self taught artist Hou Soon Ming as his assistant.Another addition is Frank Ambrose, 21, the magazine's sales representative. The newest member of the team is Chua Lark Koon, 24, an editor in the books division of Federal Publications who doubles as editor of Yippee.

What of Susan? She left a few months ago to be an editor in a publishing firm. But she's still part of the family. You might say she married into it. She's now Mrs Uranium.

On Uranium

But why Uranium?

"I wanted to be different, and uranium, well, it's different. It's rare."

He said he would rather I didn't use his real name. "I  just wantto be known as Uranium, the cartoonist." It seemed to be a matter of professional pride.

How did he come to be a cartoonist? "I saw an advertisement in Movie News for a correspondence course offered by the Cartoonist Exchange of America. I wrote in and applied."

At that time he was working in Targus Design, an advertising agency, and taking a part-time course at the Nayang Acedemy of Fine Arts in St Thomas Walk. He graduated in 1969.

"The cartoonist's course was good for me because I could do it at my own pace. they would send me assignments to draw. If there were any corrections to be made, they would do an overlay on my drawing and send it back."

As he progressed, advertising art became even less attractive as a career. "All the while, I wanted to be a cartoonist."

it shows in Yippee! which leans heavily on art. Art contests, colouring contests and feature like "Learn How to Draw are staples in the magazine.

"You know, some of our ideas have even been copied by children's magazines in Malaysia and Hong Kong."

But undoubtedly, the plum artistic satisfaction has come from having one of Yippee! 's cover designs accpeted for publication in the 1979 edition of Modern Publicity, a prestigious international art magazine produced in Britain.

Uranium said ruefully: "I'm sorry I can't show you a copy of Modern Publicity. It's so expensive that we couldn't afford to buy it."

Yippee! aside, Uranium, 29, has won about 20 awards for his art. "I even managed to win two first prizes, a second prize and one consolation prize in one contest," he said.

Rather shamefacedly he confessed: "I entered them under different names. We were only supposed to submit one entry per person."

On the level, he also illustrates children's books occasionally.

"I once applied to be a cartoonist with Straits Times. You know what they told me? They said I was overqualified."

Diffidence is not an obsession with him. "I've written a few songs," he said. "One day I expect  tp sell them to a big American company for a small fortune."

And that would be enough to make anyone shout Yippee!

Early Reviews

12510316_10153754428806181_9052644556881669460_n Early Reviews for The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye from the Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus reviews :) Out in March 2016 internationally.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"An early candidate for the various best-of lists for 2016, this superlative achievement... tells the story not only of Singaporean artist and comics creator Charlie Chan Hock Chye, but of Singapore itself... a tumultuous sweep that is mirrored in the history of cartooning. Make no mistake: this multilayered book is a masterpiece."

Library Journal (starred review)

"The combination of a powerful message, artistic virtuosity, and a fascinating framing device make for an un-put-downable read... This relentlessly engaging work stretches the boundaries of the graphic novel medium and is highly recommended for fans of political satire, Chris Ware, or Art Spiegelman."

Kirkus Review

"A fascinating look at a clever, uncompromising artist married to the times in which he lived."











front The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye was named several times in Singapore Poetry's My Book of the Year 2015 selections :p

My Book of the Year 2015

"It is complex, brilliant and so edgy. Bold and creative. The visuals are stunning and powerful. A phenomenal accomplishment." - Lydia Kwa, novelist and poet.

"My book of the year, no question, is Sonny Liew’s The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye. Gustave Flaubert once said that writing history is like drinking an ocean and pissing a cupful. Sonny Liew drank an ocean and pissed vintage champagne. Charlie Chan, amazingly, might be the only non-academic book to accurately depict Singapore history. But more importantly, historians often fail to capture the emotion, the feelings, the spirit surrounding history. Liew captured all of that in his art. It’s truly a remarkable work." - P. J. Thum, historian

"The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew pulls off the improbable feat — imbuing the modern history of Singapore with such artistry and revisionist imagination that it makes reassessing our past urgent and pressing. Perhaps its greatest achievement is to dare the reader to dream of an alternative future and even long for it. - William Phuan, arts administrator.

Get the Special Bookplate Edition here: http://www.previewsworld.com/Catalog/STK694415

Or pre-order here: http://www.amazon.com/Charlie-Chan-Pantheon-Graphic-Novels/dp/1101870699

Those in Singapore or Malaysia, pop over to a bookstore or order online at:


(special cover edition: http://shop.epigrambooks.sg/collections/graphic-novels/products/charlie-chan-special-cover )


100,000 Horsepower

The 'Original' edition of the 100,000 Horsepower bust is now available online at Mighty Jaxx!


Other Colourways available are Red, Black, White and Silver, see the here :)


Based on the painting above, the piece is sculpted by Gary Choo and the Original edition prototype was hand painted by Daniel Yu.