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Four-Coloured Red Dot

Four-Coloured Red Dot

We have stories to tell. Singaporeans, I mean.

Which isn't the same as saying that we have stories about Singapore to tell. Yes, there's a place for stories about growing up in Toa Payoh or kampong life – but we're capable of more than that.

On the other end of the spectrum, that doesn’t mean we have to carve out our own Marvel or DC universes either. And while that’s not to say that we can't create our own superheroes, we're still capable of more than that too.

So, what exactly are we capable of? Well, you don’t really need me to tell you. People talk a lot about the Singapore comic scene as if it’s some elusive phenomenon, or still in its gestation – but we already have comics out there that we can proudly point to as Singaporean, either because of the creators behind them or their subject matter.

Benjamin Chee's Charsiew Space doesn't fall into the obvious tropes about how hawker centres act as our cultural water cooler or anything like that to get across the message that Singaporeans love food. It doesn't need to. Ben uses the space adventure genre to show the reader just how treasured a good plate of charsiew rice is. And most importantly, he has fun while doing so.

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On the other hand, Stephanie Rapheala Ho’s The Adventures of Fatman and Superchub is seemingly less traditionally Singaporean. It is, on the surface, simply about fat superheroes. Adorable fat superheroes, sure, but still. Yet, just a few pages in and you’ll see that Steph’s message of loving yourself, no matter what shape you come in, shines brighter than Fatman’s fat signal – a message that everyone could use, let alone every Singaporean.

And finally, Jerry Teo's Rex Regrets (https://www.facebook.com/rexregrets) is a webcomic about a T-Rex whose short arms get in the way of him doing the most basic things, like drinking a soda, going to the park or jumping rope. While that sounds like it could be a one-trick gag, Jerry expertly mixes it up by cleverly toeing the line between subtle and not-so-subtle jokes. Most of the comics are about everyday activities that anyone can relate to, but Jerry also touches on topics that Singaporeans are more familiar with, like the coffee shop or reservists.

And those are the Singaporean comics off the top of my head.

Now, some people may argue that there aren’t enough local elements in those comics to quali-fy as “Singaporean.” And to those people, I say, so what? The point is that, even if the stories aren't particularly Singaporean in their nature, they’re stories told by Singaporeans, about things that matter to Singaporeans. And they’re damn good.

You want a local comic scene? Well, you’ve had one for quite a while. And it’s growing every day.

 

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Original Comic Art: An Introduction
Weekly Comic Reviews – 16 September 2015
 

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