Zainab Akhtar (the newest recruit here at the Beat in case you haven’t noticed) has a series running currently on the Forbidden Planet blog about comics in Singapore, specifically a new line of comics from the publisher Epigram. First up is an interview with Sonny Liew, whose gorgeous art we’ve been admiring for years. Liew acted as a consultant for Epigram’s comics offerings:
Sonny: Hmm. I mainly helped arrange for the meetings, and helped look through the contract: I used the ones I had with First Second Books, Vertigo etc to try to get a fair deal for everyone involved. There were some growth pangs for sure, the industry here is relatively immature, so there isn’t a big network of editors etc. A friend of mine, Joyce Sim, had done some work though, so we roped her in as editor for the series. There was a bit of learning curve in terms of artists working with an editor for the first time, or of the editor handling artists, but we worked through all of that I think! The brief was simply to have local based creators creating content. No real constraints – so everyone got to do what they wanted. It’s a bit of a a new thing for the publisher, so their approach was pretty open, rather than having strict ideas an identity for the comics as a series. We did discuss that, along with possible imprints and logos, but I think we’re all still feeling our way around comics publishing in Singapore.
Also, previews of some Epigram books, including Miel’s SCENEGAPORE, a panoramic view of the country.
The comics of Singapore are something of an “emerging” scene, as Liew explains in his interview:
The scene… well its dominated by foreign comics mostly – with further divisions between those who read English language comics (so mostly superhero) and those who read Chinese language comics (translated manga and comics from Taiwan and Hong Kong). Local comics have had one or two successes, the main one being a comic called “Mr Kiasu” (by Johnny Lau)back in the 90s, but that was mostly a kids- orientated comic. Things have only started to mature in maybe the last three to five years.
There’s more to come in Akhtar’s series as more of the Epigram line emerges.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.