Friday, July 31, 2015

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew


As a self-respecting book reviewer, the moment I laid eyes on this copy of The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, I knew I had to get it. I didn't quite know what it was about, but from the controversy it generated, it was definitely something worth looking at.

I must admit that this is the first Singaporean graphic novel I've read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was drawn into the story and was convinced that Charlie Chan was a real person until I found out otherwise. Sonny Liew did an impressive job crafting this masterpiece.

The story basically revolves around the life of Charlie Chan who grew up in Singapore before World War 2. He's a gifted artist and we see how he grows as a comics artist as he interacts with publishers, many of them dismissing his art. The story follows the history of Singapore, the rise and fall of David Marshall, Lim Yew Hock, and the eventual domination of the People's Action Party (PAP).

We see a darker side of Singapore's history that comes about with the ascent of PAP and how the protagonist responds. 

The end of the story where Charlie created a new comic, inspired by what he saw at the San Diego Comic Con was the part that blew me away. I'll not give anything away here.

Beyond the controversy this book generated, Sonny Liew has created a gem, multi-faceted and quite a sight to behold. I'd urge all to grab a copy and I look forward with excitement of his world-wide debut now that Pantheon picked it up (hardcopy to be released in 2016). 

Excellent job Sonny Liew!

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