Sonny Liew Bags Three Eisner Awards

Published on 22 July 2017

Credit: Chan Shiuan

Graphic novelist Sonny Liew is first Singaporean to win the ‘Oscars of Comics’ – and he bags three for his graphic novel, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye.

By Pamela Ho

Sonny Liew, a Malaysian-born Singaporean graphic novelist, has put Singapore on the Comics map. At Comic-Con International 2017 held at San Diego, he became the first Singaporean to win an Eisner Award (the comic world’s equivalent of the Oscars) and he did it in true style – bagging three awards out of six nominations, the most number of nominations received by any comic artist this year.

Liew won Best Writer/Artist, Best US Edition of International Material – Asia, and Best Publication Design for his graphic novel, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye. He was also nominated for Best Lettering, Best Coloring, and Best Graphic Album.

First published by Epigram Books in Singapore (2015), then by Pantheon Books in the United States (2016), the graphic novel was not only a New York Times and Amazon bestseller, it also holds the honour of being the first graphic novel to win the Singapore Literature Prize. Satirical storytelling at its best, it traces Singapore’s journey to nationhood, from the 1950s to the present, through the eyes of a fictional comic artist.

For the Comic-Con pic, can we caption, "Singaporean artist Sonny Liew at Comic-Con International 2017, where he bagged three Eisner Awards for his graphic novel, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye." (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

He will be applying similar techniques in devising a 20- to 30-page novella (done in the style of monthly DC or Marvel comics) to be translated to stage by theatre-maker Edith Podesta for the 2017 Singapore International Festival of Arts’ production, Becoming Graphic (17 to 20 August).

“The play will revolve around the creation process of the comic book. I’ll be using the superhero genre as a starting point to explore aging and mortality,” reveals the 42-year-old, adding that a new comic book – a by-product of the play – is ‘highly likely’. “It will combine adventure, comic tropes and a character dealing with complex real world issues we face today.”

Liew will also make an appearance at the Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention, held at the Sands Expo & Convention Center, 9 to 10 September.

Charlie Chan was an accumulation of many years of doing other stories – I explored how you could tell a story that combined different stories that made sense within themselves; but when you put them together, they tell a wider story,” shares Liew, who has worked on titles for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Vertigo and Disney Press.

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