Thursday, December 31, 2009

Through a Scanner Darkly

Thanks to the folks at artprintasia , got a high-res scan of the painting.

For the french edition of 'wonderland', out in 2010...still needs some colour correction though i think :p

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Noughties are go!

Its farewell to the noughties and david tennant in doctor who!

Saw Avatar over xmas and wasn't really be sure what the fuss is about. Somethings that might have made it a proper movie:

-  Amazing 3D. There were some effective depth of field shots... but having watched movies like Coraline, Bolt and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in 3d, I wasn't sure what the technological breakthrough in Avatar was. An improvement in degrees perhaps, but it didn't feel like  a major advancement from recent 3d movies.

-  Convincing human CG characters. Some like Roger Ebert have argued that the movie overcomes the problem of the Uncanny Valley with improved motion capture techinques etc. But this seems overblown and misguided - the characters still looked CG, and the idea of the Uncanny Valley I think refers to Human duplicates that we find odd because we're so attuned to reading human expressions and movements. The aliens in the movie however are just that - aliens, and therefore were never going to face a stringent test of the Uncanny Valley problem in the first place, any more than Jar Jar Binks. Also: was it really a huge leap from LOTR's Gollum?

- Something to tie Jake Sully to his human side; no wife, no kids, no parents, just a bunch of greedy war-mongering capitalists - it made the choice of joining the Na'vi too much of a no brainer. That aside the story was  kinda predicatable from beginning to end, with cardboard characters and wooden dialogue. Some argue there's some sort of message about Gaia and the environment , but I'm not sure what that is. There' s a Luddite angle idealising primitive cultures, but the movie itself was made with cutting edge technology. For real tribes facing extinction by loggers, the movie  doesn't seem much help either - what, pray to the trees and hope the forest animals fight off the loggers? :p

Anyway that's my Avatar rant. High horses are go too! Except: there is no horse. :p

Happy 2010!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Money Buys Things

Various pages of original comic art (Wonderland, Regifters, My Faith in Frankie and Malinky robot) now available at Graphic Collectibles :)

Here's the link.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

rabbit redux

Did a painted version of the wonderland cover, mostly for the French edition that's due out next year. Oil on canvas, 30x40 inches.  It was also a chance to see if I could replicate in traditional media a piece that was coloured digitally before, and whether it was a process that I'd enjoy. Mixed feelings ultimately I guess; on the one hand it was an interesting challenge somewhat simplified by having an original to refer to , but that also meant a kind of constraint, so maybe there wasn't as much a process of discovery and figuring things out as there usually is when painting.

DVDs watched whilst painting: season 1 of Battlestar Galactica (Edward James Olmos is great, mixed feelings about the religious angle) and seasons 2-3 of the Wire. Which felt a lot like the brilliant  Homicide Life on the Streets, which totally made sense when I found out that Homicide was based on a book by the creator of the Wire :p

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


The hardcover trade of  the Marvel Adaptation for Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has been out for a bit, and seems  to be going down like gangbusters, if this NYT article is any indication..

Having worked on 3 of 5 covers for the series, I'll be working on the interiors as well for the new Sense and Sensibility adaptation, also with Nancy Butler. No sea monsters unfortunately :p

Regency Reference Book Hunting is go! :p

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bucket Lists

One advantage of being a Causeway Child, you get to be both Singaporean and Malaysian :p  Though not speaking much Malay I've been told by Malaysian  immigration authorities i should throw my  passport away, and by Singaporean ones to 'go back to your country' when I inadvertently entered Malaysia with an expired passport and tried to travel back to the little red dot :p So maybe its still neither here nor there... Anyhow a couple of lists that kinda blow things  out of proportion....

The Singapore Hotlist

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Utopiales 2009

The Malinky Robot French edition won the "Prix de la meilleure BD" (Comic Album of the Year) at the Utopiales SF Festival in Nantes!

First stop though was Paris, where me and dad visited the Eiffel Tower, which is where zombies like to come after they destroy the UK.

Have to admit I'd not heard of  Utopiales  before, but its apparently the largest SF con in Europe. Anyway this year's special guest was James Gurney, so he did the illustration for their poster and there was lots of original art by him on display.

The event itself is a lot more low key than SDCC, which would mean more opportunities for interacting with the writers and artists there, if only I knew any french :p I did get a chance to talk to writer Stephen Baxter though, who happens to be from Liverpool so we commiserated a little on the sale of Alonso and liverpuddle's woes this season.

I'd hoped to meet Philippe Druillet, whose Loan Sloane I'd picked up at a flea market in Cambridge years and years ago, but he had unfortunately taken ill and was unable to attend. Enki Bilal was there though, that's him in the background  having breakfast at the hotel we were staying. Best described as... aloof :p

There were orginal comic book art on display at the event, and I particularly liked Yoann's lively, brushy drawings.

Some of the other nominees included Fergus and Ikigami (which picked up the Special Jury Prize).

I had very little idea what anyone was saying during the awards event but it was still kinda fun  :p

Back in Paris a couple of days later I had a chance to see a small exhibit of old video game consoles, including a 1977 Atari Pong Machine and the Odyssey.

There was also a Galaga arcade machine (me and Rich Nehmad used to play the one at RISD after lunch every day) and a handheld Galaxy II unit in which i kept getting destroyed by aliens :p

Finally a vid put up by Manga News of a robot sketch. Plus an interview of some sort here. Or click on the image below....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Eric Khoo part 3

Final part of the "Eric Khoo is a Hotel Magnate" series, oil on canvas. The words in the balloons are in Hokkien, for the context: "Pah See Buay Zao" and "Lao Quee Buay Xi, Bo Quee Jia Eh Xi".

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Utopiales and Singapore Writers Festival

The French Malinky Robot collection is rather surprisingly  up for the Best SF Comics Album award (aka "Le Prix Du Meilleur Album de SF") at the Utopiales Science Fiction Festival in Nantes . Its the city of Jules Vernes, and James Gurney is the guest-of-honour there this year. Other nominees for the award are:

Ikigami, Préavis de mort de Motoro Masse, Asuka, 2009

The Twelve de W.Chris, J-M.Straczynski, Panini Comics, 2009

Fergus d’Agrimbau et Pietro, Atalante 2009

Malinky robot de S. Liew, Paquet 2009

Les épées de verre de S.Corgiat, L.Zuccheri, Les Humanoïdes Associés 2009

Doubt d’Yoshiki Tonogai, KI-OON 2009

Also this month  is the Singapore Writer's Festival, which has quite a few comics panels, with guests including Lat, Neil Gaiman and Mark Waid. I'll be muddling my way through a couple of panels:

24 Oct 2009, 3:00 pm

" Comics – A Timeless Narrative   Price: Free    Venue : Chamber
Featuring: Lat, Mark Waid, Sonny Liew
Moderator: Terence Chua

From young to old, everybody loves a good comic! Join American comic writer Mark Waid (whose notable works include The Flash, Captain America and Superman), Malaysian-born Singapore-based comic artist Sonny Liew and beloved Malaysian comic artist Lat in a panel that reflects on the challenges of drafting a good narrative and on writing comics from an American or Asian angle."

Another panel with Troy Chin is being moved to an earlier date (the 25th I think) .

Some paintings up at the Arts House too for the Writer's Fest :p

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


"Wonderland" is one of many books nominated for  the "2010 Great Graphic Novels for Teens" by the American Library Association :p Buy it on Amazon! :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Secret Robot Kid

Actually its Sungha Jung,  a real live guitar prodigy from South Korea.  Its superfragilisticexpialidocious :p

Friday, September 4, 2009

Lucky Plazas 2

The other painting from the series "Eric Khoo is a Hotel Magnate", now up at Mulan Gallery till the 25th of Sept. Oil on canvas, 36x48 inches.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lucky Plazas

Will be having an art exhibition at Mulan Gallery from 5 Sept to 25 Sept 2009. Its located at Tanglin Shopping Centre; for directions go here. According to their press release...
"‘Lucky Plazas’, a two‐man show at Mulan Gallery, presents the works of noted comic illustrators and artists Sonny Liew and Koh Hong Teng, in a reflective mood, exploring aspects of their homeland, Singapore. While offering narratives that grapple with Singaporean issues that are both subtle and deep, both artists also present engaging visuals that proliferate with minute observations."

There's also a Singapore Art Gallery Guide review here, somewhere down the middle :p

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Singapore Comic Con

Will be at the Singapore Toys Games and Comic Con with the Gilamon guys from august 14-16. The name kinda reflects the priorities, but what the hey :p Copies of Wonderland, Liquid City and the Secret Robot Spy Factory on sale :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Doctor Who Fan Art WIP

For no good reason at all, spent most of sunday doing a piece of doctor who fan art, maybe cos the excellent David Tennant will be leaving the series soon; also a phil hale homage of course :p I was surprised to learn he did a Tony Blair portrait, but then discovered a video on you tube of him playing drums! Kinda like Sparklehorse :p Still a WIP, with bits and pieces that need fixing....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What is Storytelling?

The above image, from this website, shows some of the concept art for "American Dog", a Disney movie that turned into "Bolt" after its original director, Chris Sanders was removed.  This was apparently due to disagreements over storytelling with John Lasseter, and therefore raises parallels (in my mind) with other projects where the orginal directors/creators were removed for failing to solve "storytelling problems" (Jan Pinkava on Ratatoullie is another case and maybe Glen Keane on Rapunzel Unbraided as well) .

Apart from any talk of conflicting egoes, it does make me wonder: What exactly is good storytelling?

Pixar movies have been used as a gold standard for a while now in critical circles, and on Ratatoullie, Brad Bird is often cited as having fixed numerous storytelling issues in a matter of weeks. But here's the rub though: as much as I loved the 2 Toy Stories and Iron Giant, I've been underwhelmed by later Pixar movies, from Ratatoullie to Wall-E; Bolt was a pretty bland movie as well.

Which makes me wonder what the movies would have turned out like if Sanders and Pinkava had been allowed to carry out their vision; something more personal, less commercially driven perhaps? Or were there really objectively quantifiable problems with their approach? Is good storytelling a subjective thing or is there some sort of universal (or at least human) standard we can point to? (say...a 90% rating on rottentomatoes? :p)

I guess I worry about these issues working on my own stories, particulary the current Malinky  Robot GN: is there  enough direction in the plot? Emotional engagement of the reader? Is the conflict resolution placed at the right time, at the right intensity? What would a John Lasseter make of the Brothers Quay or Jan Svankmajer?

Who exactly do we write for, and to what end?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Comic Con Swag

Some books from SDCC, including: David Mazzuchelli's new GN "Asterios Polyp", Jeff Smith's RASL (Collector's edition which I got for a Wonderland trade! :p), a bunch of Flight Alumni books (Bannister's "Elsewhere Chronicles", Scott Campbell's "Double Fine Action Comics" and Kean Soo's "Jellaby"), "Tokyo Days, Bangkok Nights" from DC Vertigo which I got for the brilliant (and sadly departed) Seth Fisher's story, Tae Young Choi's art book and a Daniel Clowes collection. Special mention too for the folks giving out buttons for, kinda a fight against another hollywood movie casting caucasians in clearly-asian-characters roles :p

Sketches on a Plane

Some sketches done on the trip back to Singapore. Not really sure what they're about just yet - i guess something to do with the combination of organic and robotic forms, maybe trying to reach somewhere outside the usual robot drawings i've done for a long time; very much works in progress though :p

SDCC reportage

SDCC this time round was a different experience, with booth-manning tasks (ordering books, keeping track of sales etc) adding a new wrinkle to proceedings..

First stop after a 17 hour flight was downtown LA, where I’d sent all the books to old RISD friends Danny and Sue, here’s them helping to load their car with many boxes for the drive to San Diego. We then had to figure a way to get the boxes to the exhibition hall itself , despite a trolley with a dodgy comedy wheel that wobbled like a drunken sailor :p

The booth itself, shared with Flight and Gallery Nucleus was centrally located, thought the best way to find it amidst the mayhem was to look for the Marvel banner hanging from the rafters.

The Wonderland HC trade did good business, and i drew quite a few mary anns and chesire cats :p

There were the usual assortment of costumes, though i didn't get a chance to snap a picture of someone dressed in full Judge Hershey regalia :s

Lots of toys and figurines of course, including original Coraline Stop Motion figures and custom Storm Troopers (my fave ones were the comic con fan and popsicle versions :p)

There were old faces to meet like the folks from the Flight crew, and new ones too, with Mike Allred being the most exciting just cos I'm a big fan of Madman. He's pictured here with his family :) I missed the Doctor Who panel with Russell Davies and David Tennant, but still got to meet a Dalek, plus one of this guys from Yo Gabba Gabba! :p

Also there were the folks from Secret Identities, it was nice meeting everyone there after only ever communicating via email. There were photo ops with Larry Hama and Kelly Hu too  (its a guy thing, i think :p)

David Sung (animation director) was one of the many people I met at the con, and he was kind enough to show me and danny round the disney studio lots (though the actual animation dept was out of bounds cos of secret secrets), above is me and danny pretending to be mickey mice.

They also had original props on display, the best of the lot was a couple of Steve Zissou headgear, including the red cap worn by Williem Defoe.

Before you knew it, it was time to pack everything back into boxes and say goodbyes.

The saddest one was with Munki, Danny and Sue's cat who i first met back in art school days at RISD. She's now 14 years old and was rather ill, and I probably won't be seeing her again next time SDCC rolls round. Bye bye munki!

more pics at: facebook

Monday, July 13, 2009

San Diego Comic Con 2009

SDCC is about a week away, will have a Liquid City booth (Booth #2329) this year, right next to the Flight crew... others who will be there off and on include Shari Chankhamma, Mike Carey, Lefty and others... floorplan location:

Will also be at the Image booth from 2:30 - 4:30 on Friday (and probably the weekend as well), plus with Gene Yang and the Secret Identity folks from 12:30pm-2pm on Thursday( Epic Props/SI Booth #1735).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Malinky Robot stuff

Some updates on the French edition:

Over at Wartmag, its been listed as a top 5 scifi comic for the first half of 2009 (, i think its been shortlisted for the sci-fi comic award (not sure if its the final shortlist) at the Nantes Science Fiction Festival, and there was a rather odd interview from Un Monde de Bulles... odd cos the interviewer and translator were talking simultaneously and you had to listen to the translator whilst making eye contact with the interviewer :p

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

More designs

With the "Decelarate Blue" project still in hiatus, still awaiting a long awaited final script, started a bunch of new designs for a new story I'm working with Mike Carey on, a sci-fi setting with aliens and gadgets :p

The two main characters are Jo and Hal, though things are very much in the earlt stages, so no idea where it'll end up eventually :p The rest are quick half baked ideas for miscellanous aliens that might populate the story ...