Comics - a world of fantasy

August 7, 2022

Hong Kong comic books usually depict martial arts scenes or iconic characters, but thanks to the Government, as the lead sponsor of the HK Comics Support Programme, local comic book artist Linus Liu was given the tools to create a special graphic novel where he weaves a story about his childhood memories that evoke nostalgia and innocence.


The comic, Cat Mask Boy, is about a little boy seeking his mother’s approval.


The story takes place in the 1970s in Hong Kong and the main character is a primary school student. On one particular occasion, when his exam results are good, he is eager to show them to his mom, but as he is making his way home, he accidentally loses his grade sheet.


As he retraces his steps, his search takes him through the Kowloon Walled City where the area, back then, was notorious for chaos and danger. And this is how the colourful adventure in his graphic novel begins.


In the 1970s, people in Hong Kong were, in general, not rich. Still, they led simple, but happy lives. Children typically played marbles and hopscotch on the streets where they were often seen soaked and sticky with sweat. Getting a spanking from your mom was a usual occurrence in those days. Linus Liu takes readers back in time throughout the comic.


After rigorous vetting, Liu’s company stood out from nearly 80 candidates and became one of 15 companies given the opportunity to create brand new comics. They are now sponsored by the HK Comics Support Programme.


The Government, by way of Create Hong Kong, is the programme’s lead sponsor. The scheme not only subsidises comic production, but also arranges for industry experts to tutor graphic novelists with the goal of creating a fantastical comic world.


One mentor of the programme, Ma Wing-shing, explained that the funding enables the artists to focus on the content and produce comic books that are new and creative versus conjuring them to create a bestseller that just ends up being boring. Plus, the graphic novelists are given six months to complete the task.


Besides illustrating, the candidates are required to learn how to promote, publish and manage the production of their comics, which is also key to their overall success.


With the persevering work that Linus did, his graphic novel, Cat Mask Boy, inspired the programme to present him with the Gold Award.


The event’s host, Hong Kong Comics & Animation Federation Vice President Alan Wan, said the award presentation ceremony aims to raise the reputation of comic book artists in Hong Kong. The city’s graphic novelists not only face competition on the local front, but globally as well since people can easily access the work of other comic book creators all over the world with the use of a smart phone or on YouTube.


This is why the federation encourages local comic book artists to introduce their work to different countries. It also plans to exhibit such comics in Malaysia in the near future.

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