Graphic novelist Sonny Liew, creator of "The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye" has bagged three awards in the prestigious 29th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards at United States, San Diego (21 July) and the first Singaporean to win an award at the comics industry's Oscars.
The three awards presented to Liew for his work are Best U.S. Edition of International Material–Asia, Best Writer/Artist and Best Publication Design. Liew was also nominated for three other awards, Best Graphic Album–New, Best Coloring and Best Lettering.
This recent round of triple awards adds icing to the cake for the 42-year-old Malaysia-born artist who had earlier achieved several awards for his graphic novel, having bagged the Singapore Literature Prize, Denmark's Pingprisen 2017 and winning Book of the Year accolade at the Singapore Book Awards in 2016. His comic also became the best-selling local fiction title in 2015, and went on to make it to the bestseller lists at Amazon and The New York Times when it was published in the US.
Using different forms of comic illustrations to depict the life of a Singaporean artist which spans across 60-odd years of Singapore history, the graphic novel retells the Singapore's journey to nationhood with certain elements of satire or alternative expression to address controversial aspects of its history. In one particular segment, the first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and Lim Chin Siong, co-founder of People's Action Party and former Secretary General of now-defunct Barisan Sosialis are depicted side by side within the book.
Prior to the graphic novel's much-acclaimed success and just before the peak of his recognition, the publication had its approved $8,000 publication grant withdrew by National Arts Council (NAC) under the reason of "sensitive content" depicted in the 324-page comic book.
Speaking to Channel News Asia, Mr Edmund Wee from Epigram Books – the publisher that printed the graphic novel– was quoted saying, “Sonny deserves this. We always believed in this book, and it should be read by all Singaporeans, including schoolchildren,”
In an earlier interview with TOC, Liew was asked what would the first thing he'd do if he wins any of the six nominations he's up for, or if he tops all six of them. Liew candidly said, "I don't know what the first thing is, but I'd probably carry the statuette to sleep that night!"