When discussing comic books in a local context, there’d be more focus on the word “comic” in the comedic sense. Comics in Malaysia, unfortunately, still equate to MAD-derived publications such as Gila-Gila, Ujang, and Apo?. If not those, then the word would conjure images of the manga knockoffs that were Gempak and the likes.
Film and animation graduate Charukphong Anuvong, or penname Krom, has always wanted to release his own graphic novel ever since he was first introduced to Hong Kong comics during primary school. “From that point onward, all I can remember is wanting to be a comic artist desperately,” he tells us.
While later on his interest grew into filmmaking and animation, his artistic oeuvre remains steeped in visual storytelling. Currently Krom is the lead compositor at Glue Studios, whose 3D animation Timun Mas won first place at MSC Malaysia – 13th TBS DigiCon6 Animation & Movie Awards Competition 2011.
Despite that he never lost his desire to have his own graphic novel out in the local market. Even though by day he’s hard at work at Glue Studios, by night and weekends Krom constantly works on his graphic novel Siong. We were privy to some of the artworks he had done for the project — they were suitably Asian gothic, steeped in imagery befitting of the local context. Currently there’s no set release date nor publisher for the project, Krom is working hard on the second issue and preparing material to be pitched to a potential publisher.
Looking at some of his drawn art, you’d think they were done the traditional way using paint, brush, and some sort of physical canvas. But Krom prefers the digital medium, reason being? “It’s economical and the ability of having a total control of the work.”
Influenced by a who’s who of both the comic book world and the filmmaking scene, Krom lists names such as the late French artist Moebius, Japanese Takehiko Ineou, and Hong Kong’s Ma Wing Shing, while on the film side local directors like Dain Said and Yasmin Ahmad are named alongside Wong Kar Wai, Michael Mann and Ridley Scott.
Krom admits that it’s inevitable that his works will exude the influences these people have on him; “my artworks are mostly personal and sort of a tribute the auteur that I admire, the mood of Wong Kar Wai film, my hometown, the comic book that I use to read and my childhood.”
While he’s dead set on becoming known as a comic book artist (“being a comic artist has always been my aim”), Krom’s proudest work thus far was his student graduation project Buas. An homage to his hometown and grandparents, the animation is one of his most personal works to date. Despite being a student project, it managed to gain some recognition in Malaysian Film Festival 2010 as well as Astro Nextgen Awards for the animation category.
Krom realises the hurdles he has to go through trying to make it into the comic scene, seeing as how the local market for comic books is limited. Yet he is undeterred, “it’s all a matter of how much you push yourself and believe in your own artwork.”
Find Krom’s artworks and sneak preview of Siong at carigadoh.tumblr.com.