The people behind Asiapac: Our comic artists

As we prepare for our 35th anniversary exhibition opening this Saturday (we’re making sure everything runs smoothly for you!), let’s reminisce about some of our long-time comic artists who have played a huge role in our company, and one Asiapac publication that they have worked on each.

Comic1

Chan Kok Sing

Born in 1971 in Malaysia, Chan Kok Sing did not have an easy childhood. However, he knew he loved drawing and did not give it up, eventually graduating from the Kuala Lumpur College of Art in 1995 and securing a collaboration with Asiapac Books the year after.

The Eight Immortals is a Classic Taoist folk legend about eight ordinary people who attained immortality through selfless actions and good deeds. Together, they are celebrated because they signify happiness. Because of this tradition, the number eight has been considered by the Chinese to represent luck or good fortune.

Comic2

Huang Qingrong

Also born in Malaysia, Huang Qingrong joined Asiapac Books in 1998 on what was then the six-volume publication Water MarginWater Margin depicts 108 victims of oppression during the Northern Song Dynasty who fought against corruption and treachery. This Chinese classic is based on true events and historical characters, which makes the story even more relevant to the everyday reader.

Huang Qingrong’s drawings are simple, comical and easy on the eye, making him skilled at adapting complex literary elements to suit younger readers.

Comic3

Jeffrey Seow

Born in 1954, Jeffrey Seow is a Singaporean self-taught artist. Before becoming a comic artist, he worked as an illustrator in the local TV station, and also in the advertising industry. His experience in various creative roles has made him a very versatile artist.

The Analects of Confucius is a record of the life and teachings of Confucius, and represents the most important work stemming from Confucianism. It covers a wide range of topics, including politics, society, morality and education. Asiapac Books’ comic version accompanied by Jeffrey Seow’s humorous cartoons is a light-hearted read that will appeal to both young and old.

Comic4

Fu Chunjiang

Fu Chunjiang was born in 1974 in China. He is particularly skilled in the traditional style of illustration commonly seen in Chinese classical adaptations.

Origins of Chinese Festivals tells of the different stories behind each traditional Chinese festival that we still celebrate today. This helps us better appreciate our traditions and also understand the reasons behind why we continue participating in these festivities now.

***

Come by our 35th anniversary comics exhibition at the Level 8 Promenade of the National Library Building from now until 9 December 2018 to feast your eyes on more beautiful artwork! What’s more, sign up for our free events for the whole family at https://www.eventbrite.sg/o/asiapac-books-14968450800 today!

Advertisements

The ongoing debate: Singapore’s hawker culture

Amidst the discussion concerning the place of Singapore’s hawker culture in UNESCO’s list, let us take a trip down memory lane and reminisce the beginning of it all.

Hawkers

Do you recognise any of the above hawkers? Can you name the food that each of them sold and the sounds that they made?

Not only did the smell of delicious food permeate the streets of Singapore, much din was made too: hawkers shouting to advertise their food, the highly-anticipated ringing of the ice-cream bell, the familiar “tok-tok” rhythm by the bamboo apparatus of the Tok Tok Mee man…

Many immigrants in 1900s Singapore relied on food hawkers on the streets for their daily meals. Besides famous dishes like braised duck, noodles and nasi lemak that are still rampant all over the country today, there were many other types of food sold that we no longer can find here.

These include…

Lok Lok

… Lok Lok…

Pig's Ear

… Pig’s Ear…

Grilled Squid

… grilled squid…

Crocodile

… and even crocodile meat!

Due to hygiene reasons, these cannot be sold the same way in Singapore anymore.

In addition, the clean and well-maintained hawker centres that you walk past every day are a far cry from what it used to be! Most of the hawkers in that day carried their stalls with them and set them up wherever there were customers.

Hawker 1

Hawker 2

Hawker 3

Hawker 4

What do you remember from the hawkers in the past? Do you have similar stories to share?

Tell us more at our book launch tomorrow! Get your hands on our latest graphic novel, Once Upon A Singapore… Traders, where we show you the hawker culture that has made Singapore what it is today. Details: The Arts House, 10 November 2018, 2pm-3pm. Register here for free!

Editor’s Note: October/November 2018

October’s been pretty quiet on the front line, but rest assured that lots of things have been brewing on our end!

If you’ve been following us through the last couple of weeks, you’ll know that we have two exciting book launches coming up—which are exactly what we’ve been up to our necks with as the dates near.

book cover

Once Upon A Singapore… Traders is a light-hearted tale of the various trades that made old Singapore the bustling, vibrant town of the past, and how they built a foundation for the nation we live in today. It’s a graphic novel that’s brimming with fun trivia, beautiful illustrations and cheeky dialogue. Best of all, it’s suitable for all ages—whether you’re a young one curious about your grandparents’ childhood, or a grandparent yearning to relive the past.

It’s been a long journey from its conception in November 2017 (yes, this project took us a year to complete!). We hope that through the intense discussions about every nitty-gritty detail, constant revisions of the script and perfecting of the illustrations and colours, we’ve created a novel that you’ll enjoy not just once, but many times over!

Catch author Tina Sim and illustrator Alan Bay at the book launch at The Arts House on 10 November 20182pm–3pm. You might even walk away with a free autographed copy of the book. Register here!

***

poster.jpg

In November, we’ll also be celebrating our 35th anniversary with a bang: a comics exhibition featuring original illustrations by our comic artists, past and new! Taking place from 17 November 2018 to 9 December 2018 at the Level 8 Promenade of the National Library Building, get ready to feast your eyes on some gorgeous pieces of art.

To prepare for this event, we’ve been running around frantically coordinating with our exhibition designers (and all the help we can get). As we have learnt, organising a huge event like this is not as straightforward as one might think. We had to work from scratch: designing the exhibition logo, deciding on the material of the panels, figuring out how best to display our original artwork collection, creating social media banners, drafting up a press release… and the list goes on and on.

Ultimately, we hope that through this comics exhibition, you’ll be able to better appreciate the books you bring home, and create new and lasting memories with your loved ones.

***

04 FZK Cover

Another publication we’re bouncing off the walls for is this lovely collection of comics by respected Chinese artist Feng Zikai. We have chosen Selected Comics of Feng Zikai to be our flagship publication for our 35th anniversary, reflecting the inspiration that the artist provides for our work. His pieces portray everyday situations in an idyllic yet thought-provoking manner, and serve as food for the soul.

We want to make these books an experience for you, by getting lost in the imagery and poetic descriptions that Feng Zikai has so tastefully crafted and left behind. From the colour of the books, to the position and size of the illustrations, to the alignment of text, everything has been carefully considered to ensure the greatest reading pleasure.

Look out for the book launch details soon!

***

With so many events coming up, we really hope to see you there and to put a face to our fans and readers. If you do drop by, please come and say hello to the Asiapac team. Don’t worry, we won’t bite!

 

Why were clogs invented?

Clog 2

Clogs, a.k.a. cha kiak in Hokkien, are a type of shoe that was popular in Singapore in the mid-1900s. They are made using wood for the soles, and rubber for the straps.

Clog 3.jpg

It is said that a long time ago, there was a man who felled trees for a living. As he wore shoes made of cloth, he often injured his feet while walking in the forest. One day, he stepped on a stick and tore his shoes. He could not wear them anymore.

Clog 4

Being forced to think of a solution, he noticed that there were pieces of wood lying around. So, he tied two wooden pieces to his feet with rope and started walking in them. He found that the wood not only protected his feet from sharp sticks and stones, but also prevented him from slipping on wet ground.

From then on, he chopped trees for wood to make soles for clogs.

Clog 7

Clogs were subsequently used in wet kitchens and markets, to keep feet dry when walking on wet floors. These were some important traits that made them the perfect shoe:

  • Comfortable
  • Imitate a flat surface
  • Thick soles create distance between feet and wet, dirty ground
  • Wooden soles create friction to prevent slipping
  • No need to differentiate between left and right: both sides are the same

 

 

Take note! Red clogs with curvy edges are for women. Green ones with straight sides are for men. It may take some practice to walk in them, but it’s just a matter of getting used to.

Today, with the wide array of footwear available, clogs have become redundant. However, you can still get a pair at a souvenir shop as a keepsake!

Read more about the clog makers and other super interesting trades in our latest graphic novel, Once Upon A Singapore… Traders. You can preorder the book here. We’ll also be having our book launch at The Arts House on 10 November 20182pm-3pm, so make sure you don’t miss it! Register here for free!

Get to know: Tina and Alan

With the nearing of our book launch for Once Upon A Singapore… Traders, we thought we’d speak to writer Tina Sim and illustrator Alan Bay, to understand a bit about their inspiration behind this publication and their book journey so far.

book cover

So, first, what got you into writing / illustrating?

“I like to read and share what I have read,” Tina says. “I guess that started me scribbling.”

For Alan, it was video games and comic books. “I remember it all started when I was reading Dragon Ball Z back when I was younger, and when I decided to draw my own version in an exercise book.”

Nice. And what was your inspiration behind writing / illustrating for this new book?

Alan muses, “I wanted to create a lighthearted comic book based on Singapore’s rich history, to encourage the curiosity of readers on the topic.”

Tina adds, “I like to tell stories from my childhood and youth, and I am so fortunate to have Alan draw my memories into being.”

That’s awesome! Now, what do you think was the most memorable part of this book-making journey?

“Growing with Grandpa and Aloysius as the story developed,” says the writer. “Even though they started as mere characters on paper, as we went along, they developed a life of their own. The dialogue, the jokes and the banter just fell into place.”

“This was my first time collaborating with a writer and publisher, so it was a huge learning opportunity for me.” Alan chimes in. “As an artist, I had to constantly remind myself that my drawings were meant to complement the story instead of being a flamboyant showcase.”

Okay, last question: what do you hope this new publication will achieve?

“I hope readers young and old will enjoy this trip down memory lane,” says Tina.

“I also hope this book inspires those who have been through a time of old, like grandparents, to share their own first-hand experiences with the new generation,” Alan says.

Now that you know a bit more about these creative minds, why not drop by to shake hands and talk to them in person during the Singapore Writers Festival 2018?  They’ll be at The Arts House on 10 November 20182pm-3pm where they’ll be sharing all about this latest publication! Entry is free: register here!

P.S. Their comic book is now available for pre-order at our webstore!

Get to know: Feng Zikai

Born in Zhejiang, China in 1898, Feng Zikai (豐子愷) was one of the first artists to specialise in caricatures and comics. His works span a wide range of topics, from classic Chinese poetry depictions to observations of day-to-day life. Although they are informed by deep and profound concepts, his comics are idyllic, light-hearted and relatable to all types of readers.

As our 35th anniversary flagship publication, Asiapac Books will be publishing Feng Zikai’s selected comics in collaboration with Dolphin Books (China), in a set of five books titled Selected Comics of Feng Zikai.

04 FZK Cover

An embodiment of the fine balance between intellect, artistry and child-like wonder, Feng Zikai is a key inspiration for our work. Some of his artworks masterfully depict classic Chinese verses, while others muse about everyday village sightings. Regardless of their inspiration, all of them carry a sense of peacefulness and serenity, painting a blissful picture of life.

1

Occasionally, Feng Zikai approaches situations with humour, keeping his drawings light-hearted and cheerful. As many of his illustrations portray everyday situations, even contemporary viewers will find them relatable. Other illustrations make more profound observations that reflect upon humanity and its inadequacies.

new-doc-2018-06-06-15-43-11_4-copy.jpg

Having lived through the 20th century, it is not unusual to observe external influences in Feng Zikai’s work. Sometimes, they portray non-Chinese characters. Other times, the works themselves bear English words. These illustrations juxtapose traditional living with new concepts, creating a fresh blend of cultures.

new doc 2018-06-06 15.43.11_3 copyWe hope to bring joy to a new generation of readers by sharing Feng Zikai’s timeless classics. His work is a constant reminder of the immense beauty and tenderness that still exist in our everyday lives.

Look out for the book launch details soon!

 

Book Launch: Once Upon A Singapore… Traders

book cover

Modern Singapore looks very different from Singapore one hundred years ago, almost as if the two are separate countries altogether! There are many people who used to do business on the streets whom we no longer see, such as the milkmen, the letter writers, the koyok men and more. This colourful graphic novel will bring you back to a time of old and show you the wonders of these trades. Follow Grandpa and Aloysius on their journey to the past and discover the interesting ways people used to make a living in 1900s Singapore. It’s a book for all to enjoy–children, parents and even grandparents!

About the author
Tina Sim Soek Tien writes and translates. She likes to write about what life used to be like in the old days—playing zero point, brushing teeth over the drain after recess, making lots of paper boats then hoping for rain… She hopes her stories capture some of the spirit—and happiness—of the old days. She enjoys translating because there is much in another’s world we can learn from, if we can only connect.

About the illustrator
Alan Bay draws comics, cartoons, and video games. He draws big monsters, pesky kids, magical dragons, and almost everything else under the sun. He hopes his art will bring you a smile and make your day a little better.

We’ll be holding a book launch for this exciting publication during the Singapore Writers Festival 2018. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet author Tina Sim and illustrator Alan Bay at The Arts House on 10 November 2018, 2pm-3pm! Entry is free: register here!

Behind the Scenes: A Collection of Artwork

We won’t deny it: we’re extremely excited to turn 35 this year–just take a look at how much we’ve been shouting about our anniversary on social media! Asiapac Books has come a long way, from being a book distributor, to a book publisher of translated editions, and now a leading comic publisher in Southeast Asia. We couldn’t be prouder.

Naturally, working with a number of veteran illustrators for the past three decades, we’ve accumulated a store of raw sketches and artwork that unfortunately have been hidden away for far too long. So, we’ve decided that our year-end anniversary exhibition would be the perfect time to launch Asiapac Archives, a collection of comic artwork gathered over the years.

But… we can’t wait to give you a sneak peek! Here are a few shots of iconic pieces done by our artists that we think you’ll love. For our loyal readers, we’re sure these illustrations will look very familiar!

JS_1

JS_2

Original artwork by Jeffrey Seow for The Complete Analects of Confucius comic book series

WTB_1

WTB_2

Original artwork by Wee Tian Beng for Return of the Condor Heroes

Over the next few weeks leading up to our exhibition, we’ll be uploading more of what’s happening behind the scenes in the Asiapac office on Facebook, so be sure to keep a lookout here: https://tinyurl.com/asiapacbts

Of course, photos don’t do these masterpieces justice. You’ll need to come down to our exhibition to observe the intricate details for yourself. We’ll be at the Level 8 Promenade of the National Library Building from 17 November 2018 to 9 December 2018, and we’re really looking forward to meeting you there!

Unearthing the Roots of Chinese Medicine

Chinese herbal medicine, drug, food

Image: Pietro Jeng

Most of us have heard of yin and yang – the two forces that, in Chinese philosophy, power the natural world. Our understanding, however, is often limited to a vague impression of their exact roles; many don’t realise how the forces, as a fundamental part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), continue to thread through modern thinking.

TCM itself is still very much an active part of life today – a tenet of Chinese history and tradition, it is also something many Singaporeans continue to turn to when ill. Learning about TCM is thus about both the past and present, something that we recognise in our Essential Chinese Medicine series and Essence of Traditional Chinese Medicine comic book.

 

 

Essential Chinese Medicine features four titles, each covering different aspects of TCM: Health Tonics, Improving Blood CirculationRelieving Wind and Restoring Balance. The books describe the most well-known herbs used in each field, going into incredible detail about medicinal effects, purchasing and storing methods, and easy recipes – Health Tonics alone, for instance, describes 54 popular herbs! The books cover both the therapeutic and practical effects of TCM, providing a truly well-rounded look at the subject.

All four Essential Chinese Medicine books are edited by Professor Zhang Bao Chun and Professor Chen Yu Ting, postgraduate instructors at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. They draw on their wealth of knowledge to shed light on an otherwise complex topic, carefully clarifying and simplifying information for readers. The books are especially relevant for Singapore readers too, as the featured herbs are amongst the most commonly used right here on our island.

Essence of Traditional Chinese Medicine is even more accessible, employing illustrations, diagrams and comics to explain the text. It spans from ancient Chinese theories about the human body to the modernisation of TCM, proving how this branch of medicine has both survived and evolved.

Whether you are simply a curious beginner or a TCM-enthusiast, our two series are refreshing, informative takes on a truly fascinating subject. Learn about the lives of famous Chinese physicians from light-hearted comics, or try your hand at a few simple, wholesome recipes. TCM, after all, has become much more than just a matter of health, but a philosophy and spirit with far-reaching influences.

Getting to Know China

It is impossible to know everything about China and its sprawling history. A civilisation spanning thousands of years, its present day state is the result of countless political, social, artistic and scientific milestones. There will always be new facets about Chinese culture you have yet to come across – exactly why getting to know China is so exciting.

Celebrate Chinese Culture is a series (nearly) as epic as Chinese history itself. It contains six volumes, each focusing on one aspect of the culture: Chinese Literature, Chinese Science & Technology, Chinese Fine Arts, Chinese Eminent People, Chinese Folk Customs, and Chinese Auspicious Culture. Together, they provide a comprehensive insight into this incredible civilisation. Vivid photographs and illustrations throughout each book help illuminate each point, and to make Chinese culture feel more alive than ever.

 

Meet some of the greatest writers of all time in Chinese Literature, and learn how reading and writing has long formed an integral part of Chinese society – from the development of literature pre-Qin Dynasty to the last monarchy of the Qing Dynasty. Make new discoveries in Chinese Science & Technology, particularly how one of today’s most technologically advanced countries was also responsible for ground-breaking inventions like the seismograph.

 

In Chinese Fine Arts, you will be introduced to the other side of Chinese culture: calligraphy, painting, music, dance, theatre and sculpture. Even the smallest brushstroke in calligraphy is an art form, imbuing Chinese artistic mediums with both skill and passion. Meanwhile, Chinese Eminent People will have you encountering China’s most prominent leaders, celebrities, artists, musicians and scientists; while they may be noted for their public achievements, the book also delves into their personal stories of love, sorrow and joy.

 

Chinese Folk Customs takes you to the roots of Chinese society: the folk beliefs that have influenced and defined practices of birth, coming-of-age, marriage and death. Understanding these beliefs – such as the auspicious use of red and important mythological creatures – will enhance understanding of the Chinese psyche. Chinese Auspicious Culture rounds up the series with an examination of the way folk customs have evolved over time. Customs which we might now take for granted, like the making of glutinous rice dumplings and choosing of auspicious wedding dates, were actually carefully developed as a way of maximising fortune and prosperity!

Getting to know China doesn’t end with these six books, of course, but Celebrate Chinese Culture provides an easy way to begin. Grab a copy – or all six! – to learn more about the deep history powering the global power today.