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Positive message:  This caricature of Financial Secretary John Tsang graces the free bookmark enclosed in this year's Budget consultation comic book.


Inked in:  Cartoonist for the comic book Billy Ma says the job has given him a chance to contribute to society and bring a positive message to the public.

Financial Secretary

The Financial Secretary's primary responsibility is to assist the Chief Executive in overseeing policy formulation and implementation in financial, monetary, economic, trade and employment matters.

Fiscal tips from a comic genius

January 05, 2011

With fortitude and persistence people can recover from financial adversity. This is the message from cartoonist Billy Ma, creator of this year's Budget consultation comic book.


He recently told the main theme of the book is to encourage people to stay positive and resilient when confronting financial troubles.


Joining the comic industry after his Form Five schooling, Ma has been in the trade for more than a decade. Having also been affected by the financial turmoil two years ago, he has brought his personal feelings into the book's plot. The theme of this year's comic is 'embracing and believing in the future', and it is the third time the Financial Secretary's Office has published a Budget consultation comic book.


Like the two previous volumes, Yat is again the main character. In this year's story he has graduated from university and is looking for a job. Like a lot of young people, he encounters problems in getting work and must also deal with family pressure. In the end, with hard work and a strong faith in the future, he manages to overcome all difficulties.

Flexible medium

Although the two previous volumes had been done by different cartoonists in different styles, Ma said he felt no pressure when taking up the job.


While the Budget is a very serious topic, he said comics are a more flexible medium than animated films or electronic games in distributing messages. Cartoonists can unleash their imagination on any topic, unlimited by manpower or resources.


Used to drawing Hong Kong-style comics with a lot of fighting scenes, Billy has taken up a Japanese style in recent years. But this did not pose any adjustment difficulty in terms of style when he took up this Budget comic book job.


"I used simpler outlines in this comic book." 


New angle

A major development in this year's plot is that Yat starts dating. Ma said this is a natural development of the storyline, as most young people at Yat's age have also developed romances of their own. This makes the comic more reflective of young people's daily lives and makes it a more interesting story.


Half the story focuses on Yat's relations with his family while the other half is on his love life.


Ma said he felt less artistic pressure working on the issue, compared to his previous comics, because he could put aside commercial considerations like revenue and sales volume.


"This Budget consultation comic book has given me a chance to contribute to society and bring a positive message to the general public."


Production process

However, time constraints were an issue, as Ma had only six weeks to create the book, including liaising with the scriptwriter, the drawing and sending the work to the publisher.


"The normal time needed for a similar length book is at least two or three months."


As he was already busy doing jobs for other clients, Ma said he only slept four hours a day during the production process, drinking coffee to fight drowsiness.


After such hard work, Ma said he hopes the public will pick up a copy of the book and take inspiration from its positive message.