Charlie Chan Hock Chye is Singapore’s greatest cartoonist. He’s not a real living person, but in Sonny Liew’s new Pantheon graphic novel, The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, the fictional title character is used to explore the evolution of the island city-state through the work of one of its most prominent artists. Liew’s graphic novel is a fascinating look at a cartoonist’s growth over time and how his creative output reflects the culture around him, and Liew tells Chan’s story in a way that only comic books can. Narrated by Chan in the present with commentary from a cartoon version of Liew, the book features flashbacks to Chan’s past alongside archived images of pertinent material, from Chan’s sketches, illustrations, paintings, and comics to newspaper articles and photographs regarding major events in Singapore’s timeline.
This excerpt from The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye shows that unconventional structure and reveals how it creates a beautifully multidimensional portrait of the cartoonist, beginning with Chan’s personal interpretation of the past before showing comics and sketches that provide further insight. These pages highlight Liew’s depth as a writer as well as his versatility as an artist, and there’s remarkable specificity in these pages. The color palettes, the paper quality, the incorporation of photographs and sketches, they all combine with the text to provide a complex view of Charlie Chan Hock Chye that has a strong sense of history behind it, and readers can discover the full range of Liew’s skill when The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye hits stores this week.
From the book:
The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew
Copyright © 2015 by Sonny Liew
Published by arrangement with Pantheon, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC