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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

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!

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

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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!