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The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye

Publisher: Epigram Books
  • Description
  • Praise
  • About the Author
  • Winner of the Eisner Award for Best Writer/Artist 2017
    Winner of the Eisner Award for Best Publication Design 2017
    Winner of the Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia 2017
    Winner of the 2016 Singapore Book Awards' Book of the Year
    Winner of Singapore Literature Prize 2016 (English Fiction)
    The New York Times Bestseller
    Romics Festival Premio speciale della giuria (Special Jury Prize) 2018

    Look inside the book 

    The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is a fictional biography showcasing the life and work of Chan Hock Chye, a pioneering but largely forgotten comics artist in Singapore. With a career spanning more than five decades, from pre-independent Singapore through its three Prime Ministers, Chan’s work reflects the changing political and economic environment in Singapore.

    Containing Chan’s original illustrations, paintings and sketches, this is a groundbreaking work and labour of love aimed at recapturing the portrait of an artist, whose deep passion for comics and country is given a fitting tribute by award-winning comics artist Sonny Liew.

  • “A joy to read. Sonny Liew masterfully weaves the history of Singapore with the history of comics into something you've never experienced before.”
    — Gene Luen Yang, creator of American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints

    “Unique and unprecedented... a masterpiece... This book is a joyous, beautiful, million-faceted thing – a celebration of the comic book medium, a technical masterclass, a thrill ride, a Bildungsroman and an unflinching retrospective of the post-war-into-modern era. I love it, and I'm in awe of it.”
    — Mike Carey, author of Lucifer, The Unwritten and The Girl with All the Gifts

    “Prepare to be swept away by a history of Singapore as youve never seen before. Sonny Liew delivers a brilliant and fiercely perceptive appraisal of this remarkable island-state.”
    — Paul Gravett, author of Comics Art and 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die

    “Equally uncompromising in its political critique and its artistic vision…. leaving you with the sense of having been in the company of an exceptional talent.”
    — Cherian George, author of The Air-Conditioned Nation and Freedom from the Press

    “A brilliant, innovative work that should be read and savoured by everyone who’s interested in Singapore. [A] beautiful, moving elegy… an introspection – tender, arresting, witty in equal measure – on the very meaning of life, progress and happiness…. In a year when Singaporeans will be treated to a relentless barrage of triumphalism, this may well be the most delightful, thought-provoking meditation on the country.”
    — Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh, author of Floating On A Malayan Breeze and co-author of Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus

    “[A] superlative achievement.... As Chye’s life is revealed, so is the history of Singapore, a tumultuous sweep that is mirrored in the history of cartooning. Make no mistake: this multilayered book is a masterpiece.”
    — Publishers Weekly, *starred review*

    “The combination of a powerful message, artistic virtuosity, and a fascinating framing device make for an un-put-downable read. This relentlessly engaging work stretches the boundaries of the graphic novel medium and is highly recommended for fans of political satire, Chris Ware, or Art Spiegelman.”
    — Library Journal, *starred review*

    "A touching, thoughtful meditation on Singapore’s relentless progress... The book does not shy away from controversial periods in the nation’s history."
    The Economist

    "One of the most visually arresting and thematically remarkable books published this year... A landmark work in Singapore comics history.”

    — Akshita Nanda, The Straits Times 

    “[A]udacious, splendid, inventive… tells out history like it’s never been told before… remarkably fluid and riveting. [A] dazzling, dizzying tome… engages the reader emotionally and imaginatively… [giving]  you extraordinary access to the past.”  
    — Helmi Yusof, The Business Times

    “[H]ighlights lesser known facts about our history and, along with it, new ways to think about our past. A brilliant book.”
    — Bertha Henson, The Middle Ground

    Liew's magnum opus... will surely rank among the finest examples of local literature.
    — TimeOut Singapore

    “Charlie Chan will not die; he is born within the pages of the book and is immortalised in it forever. [A] riot of styles, ranging form manga to ink doodles to oil paintings... Each page of the graphic novel (also: a scrapbook, an archive) is to be savoured.”
    — Alfian Sa'at, author of Malay Sketches

    “A wonderfully immersive visual experience with an eye for detail that will blow you away... A masterpiece.”
    — Kevin Matthews, Power of Pop

    “We are 50 years young, and this is our story.”
    — Howard Lee, The Online Citizen

    “A revelation not just in the art of visual storytelling, but in the art of telling Singapore's story... The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is a rare experience to see ourselves in a beautiful piece of work.”
    — Kirsten Han,

    “A 320-page tome that is three years in the making, and breathtaking in its ambition and scope. Ostensibly the biography of a Singapore comic artist who came of age in the country's formative years, it turns into a meditation on Singapore's history, socio-political issues, comic art history, censorship and more.”
    — Nicholas Yong, Yahoo! Singapore 

    The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is an amazingly crafted book... Essential reading not just for Sonny Liew fans, but also for fans of comic book history, and those interested in Singapore’s past.” 
    — Alvin Chong,

    “Part graphic novel, part art book, part narrative essay, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Malaysian-born, Eisner Award nominated comic artist and illustrator Sonny Liew is a look at Singapore unlike any other before. By reflecting on the life and work of a comic creator whose career spanned half a century, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye comments wryly on Singapore’s past and present while honouring comics as a storytelling medium.”
    — Kenny Mah, The Malay Mail

    “Challenges us to understand comics in a whole new way...its unique approach to graphic biography showcases the very impact of sequential narrative and the ways that visuals construct our sense of history.”
    — Comics Alternative

    This is one of, if not the best comic books in the past five years. We’re not just talking regionally, but maybe across the globe.
    — Amir Hafizi, The Malaysian Reserve

    Step aside, Avengers, Batman and Astro Boy. It’s time Singaporeans get to know the likes of Force 136, Roachman and Ah Huat’s Giant Robot—not to mention the artist behind these retro comic-book characters...artist-illustrator Sonny Liew has upped the ante with his most ambitious work to date
    — Mayo Martin, TODAY

    “Like many of the greatest stories ever told, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye…gives its reader more than enough material to resonate with, to incite feelings that the titular hero may not only have existed, but may have been them, in another life."
    — Peter Lin,

    “Liew provides sharp commentary throughout, illustrating interviews as well as accompanying strips that decode Chan’s layers of allegory…A fascinating look at a clever, uncompromising artist married to the times in which he lived.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    “If only all historical works were this creative, original, and fun to read.”

    “[Liew] explores the myths and realities of postwar Singapore, casting a critical eye on policies that place adherence to the established order above personal expression. The combination of a powerful message, artistic virtuosity, and a fascinating framing device make for an un-put-downable read.”
    Library Journal Reviews

    "Riotously funny, heartbreakingly beautiful, fizzing with provocative ideas, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye breathes life and intimacy into the multi-layered history of Malaysia and Singapore. Sonny Liew has produced a true masterpiece. "
    —Tash Aw, critically acclaimed author of We, The Survivors

  • Sonny Liew is a comics artist, painter and illustrator whose work includes the New York Times bestseller The Shadow Hero with Gene Luen Yang (First Second Books), My Faith in Frankie with Mike Carey (DC Vertigo), the Jane Austen adaptation Sense & Sensibility (Marvel Comics), and a Doctor Fate series with Paul Levitz (DC Comics).

    He has received Eisner nominations for his art on Wonderland (Disney Press) and The Shadow Hero, as well as for spearheading Liquid City (Image Comics), a multi-volume comics anthology featuring creators from Southeast Asia. His Malinky Robot series is a 2004 Xeric grant recipient and winner of the Best Science Fiction Comic Album Award at the 2009 Utopiales SF Festival. Born in Malaysia, he lives in Singapore, where he sleeps with the fishes.

ISBN: 9789810731069
Cover Type: Paperback
Page Count: 324
Year Published: 2015
Size: 255mm x 170mm