Singapore

Singaporean comic book artist Sonny Liew wins big at 2017 Eisner Awards

Singapore Illustrator and graphic novelist Sonny Liew came away with three prestigious Eisner Awards, including the coveted Best Writer/Artist.

The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - aka Eisners - are known as the Oscars of the comic book industry and were announced as part of the San Diego Comic Convention on Friday, July 21 (Saturday morning Singapore time).

Aside from winning Best Writer/Artist for his graphic novel The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, Liew also won  Best US Edition of International Material - Asia and Best Publication Design.

"It's a mixture of elation and disbelief," Liew, 42, told The New Paper.

"I'd never have imagined the book would win any Eisners, let alone three. Well, maybe in some of my wilder dreams..."

He added: "But for all the hopes, fears and expectations, it really left me a little stunned."

The awards are named after the pioneering artist, and originator of the graphic novel format, Will Eisner.

Liew had six nominations, more than industry veterans such as Sean Phillips and Brian K Vaughn, though Best Colouring, Best Lettering and Best Graphic album were not to be his.

The epic tome, The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, was published in Singapore in 2015 by Epigram Books and abroad last year by American imprint Pantheon.

It is a satirical retelling of modern Singapore's history told via the story of a fictional comic book artist.

For the project, Liew adapted a number of illustration styles after an earlier plan to have different artists contribute proved too difficult to execute.

It also sparked controversy in 2015 when the National Arts Council withdrew its $8,000 publishing grant for the book.

Yet since publishing, the accolades have streamed in.


Last year, the book became a New York Times bestseller and became the first graphic novel to win the Singapore Literature Prize. 


It has been highly praised, being described as "magnificent", "a wonderfully immersive visual experience" and "a true masterpiece."

It has now been translated into French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.

Liew, a Malaysia-born Singapore citizen, started off with indie publishing before being picked to work for the big comic book publishers DC and Marvel on various series such as Dr Fate and Spider-Man.

He has been nominated for previous works like Liquid City (a compendium under Image Comics of local and regional comic book artists) and the story of an Asian pulp hero in The Shadow Hero, written by Gene Luen Yang.


Voted on by comic book industry professionals and the awards this year included include more than 120 titles from all over the world.

Liew had told The Straits Times that: "I didn't even write a speech because I felt it would be silly if I didn't win and I didn't want to jinx it."

He added that the best part of the night was having his parents and older sister there to see his triumph. 


With an eye on the future, Liew told TNP that his next personal project will focus on capitalism, though he is also "in talks with DC, IDW, Dark Horse and Boom about potential projects."

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