SINGAPORE: Singaporean graphic novelist Sonny Liew’s The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye continues to make waves overseas, bagging the most number of nominations at this year’s prestigious Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, more commonly known as the Eisner Awards.
The graphic novel, which chronicles the life of a fictional Singaporean from the 1950s to present times, is in the running for Best Graphic Album–New, Best US Edition of International Material–Asia, Best Writer/Artist, Best Coloring, Best Lettering, and Best Publication Design.
“It’s been a wild and unexpected journey so far, and I’m a little lost for words at the moment,” Liew told Channel NewsAsia. “I’m sort of caught in between steeling myself for the possibility of having six times the disappointment, just enjoying the moment, and seesawing between the two!”
Added Liew: “The results are a matter of a popular vote so anything can happen. I’d just encourage anyone in the comics industry here to get registered and vote, whatever their favourite titles and creators are.”
Named after the pioneering artist and writer Will Eisner, the annual awards is considered the comics industry’s equivalent of the Oscars and is held during the Comic-Con International in San Diego. The winners are chosen via online voting by registered comic book professionals, and the results will be announced on Jul 21.
This year’s nominees number more than 120 titles from 50 publishers from all over the world.
The Malaysia-born Liew, who has worked for industry giants such as DC and Marvel, has previously received nominations for his work on the comics anthology Liquid City and the mini-series Wonderland.
First published in Singapore by Epigram Books in 2015, it has garnered awards such as the Singapore Literature Prize and the Singapore Book Award’s Book of the Year. It has also made it to many year-end lists of international media such as The Economist, Publishers Weekly and The Washington Post.
Published in the US by Pantheon books, the novel has also reached the bestsellers lists at Amazon and The New York Times.
Before its current success, The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye was at the centre of controversy after the National Arts Council withdrew its S$8,000 grant after citing “sensitive content”.
The graphic novel features personalities such as Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, opposition politician Lim Chin Siong and events such as 1987’s Operation Spectrum and the Hock Lee bus riots.
Besides receiving accolades for the graphic novel, Liew is currently working on projects such as a live performance work titled Becoming Graphic for this year's Singapore International Festival of Arts.