Interview: Michael Chuah

If you don’t know who Michael Chuah is, then maybe you’d recognise him as C2V, the creator of comic book Gengkey (part of local cult comic publisher Gempak). Michael is famous for his cute yet feisty characters and in total, has created more than 300 of them. His creativity has seen him conceptualise the Gilamon Studio, specialising in graphic storytelling, character design and graphic design; and the Roots Studio, a creative branding company. Always eager to work with musicians, Michael recently created a robot mascot for electro proponent Jonvu (Eclectic Botz). JUICE hit up the comic-flippin’ artist for a chat.

How did you start off in design?
I’d always wanted to be a graphic designer who played with typeface design and good layouts, but I unexpectedly went for comic drawing in 2001. I combined graphic elements and comic art, which can be applied in both industries. I love character design and later got involved in design and event merchandising.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Reading – it helps my imagination.

You’ve got a character series called The Never Ending Tales. What’s it about?
It’s basically 2 characters, Teddy Bee and Ruff, flying around the world and meeting lots of other creatures. Every creature has a story to tell, and Teddy Bee and Ruff record it down.

Out of all the comic characters you’ve created, which is your favourite?
My favourite is my self-portrait. I purposely drew myself in full black, like a hidden character. I always let this character appear in my comic in the background. Some fans have noticed it and call it orang hitam.

Like a ninja! Cool! Any plans to bring your characters to life through animation?
I always get this question during interviews. My answer is “not the right time yet”. I’d love my characters to be in motion but animation is not my speciality, and it involves too many people and a messy production. For the moment, I still enjoy working on everything myself.

Who are your heroes?
My dad. He’s the one who inspired me to do graphic design and comics. Until now, I still dare not show my work to him as I worry my work has not reached his expectations.

We know the feeling. You designed a mascot for Eclectic Botz. Are you planning to branch into the design side of the music industry now?
I desperately wanted to get involved in CD cover design-that’s one of my dreams. I’ve always dreamt of designing cover art similar to the Super Furry Animals and Gorillaz. Too bad our local industry still does not really accept concepts like this.

What was your inspiration behind the mascot?
I’m a big fan of Gundam animation but I’m not very good at drawing mechanical stuff, and I’m so into the Power Rangers Super Sentai series. This helped me create a similar idea for Eclectic Botz that was easy to move around rather than a robot. I took quite some time to develop the idea. We can change its outfit to suit any occasion and Jonvu loves that!

We like Gundam too! Do you have other designs for Eclectic Botz?
I’m planning to make a nicer pinup for them. Hopefully there’s enough time to create some story as well. I already have some ideas in mind.

Hope to see that soon. If your Eclectic Botz character could do battle with anyone, who would it be?
Ironman, definitely! But we will party with him first. Haha!

Make sure to invite us. What more can we expect to see from you?
I’m currently working on a comic project, scheduled for the end of this year. I’m also working on a glamour project called Superbabes, so stay tuned…

Any new comic books coming up?
Yup! I’m rushing for its deadline now!

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Hopefully I’ll still be doing comic art for a living and creating more characters than Devilrobots!

Check out Michael Chuah’s world at michaelchuahdesign.com.