We’re talking about the ‘COVID-19 saga’ by talented Malaysian cartoonist Ernest Ng, the creator of 'Bro, Don’t Like That La, Bro'.
Drawing inspiration from the country’s current battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, Ernest opened up a little about the creative process behind the successful comic series that's keeping Malaysians entertained during the MCO.
“It started out as just a parody of what was happening in Malaysia and now I’m excited to see how it ends. It’s really weird because I’m the author but even I don’t know,” said Ernest when speaking to Rojak Daily.
Ideation and planning
Ernest said that because the series is linked to current events, he usually spends a large portion of his time reading and trying to keep updated with the latest news and happenings.
“The planning part is the longest. I kind of write down the flow first and that usually takes about 5 to 6 days. Then I do the rough sketches which take about an hour."
“These are very rough sketches though which I use to position where the characters are going to be,” he said adding that the placing was also important in order to make space for action shots, effects and dialogue boxes, if any.
Once everything is locked in place, then the inking begins.
“This is the leceh portion lah. It’s where I make the lines more refined and color them. It’s the tiring gila punya part,” he said.
Just to give you a rough idea, Ernest said that a series with about 10 pages takes 12 to 14 hours to complete! Madness!
Ernest also said that he has to be quite flexible with his ideas and how they develop in the story.
A challenging feat
“Sometimes I receive news or people start sharing something. Sometimes it starts popping up on my feed or it starts trending and then I know - this could be something that I could use."
“It also depends though. I don’t jump into every single thing la. Some topics need follow ups and I know that by the time the series comes out, it may not make sense any longer so I try and avoid stuff like that,” he said.
Another challenge was connecting the dots.
"Sometimes something happens and it's not really linked to the main story. So I have to figure out how to fit it in or bring it into the narrative," he said.
Who is that?As for the characters in his series, we absolutely love guessing who they were drawn after.
“I usually get a picture of the person and try and draw their most distinctive features. For the character that looks like Donald Trump, it’s the orange skin, for our Health DG, it’s his tired eyes and for our Prime Minister, it’s the lips and moustache,” he said.
Commenting on the most challenging character to draw, Ernest said that it would have to be Senior Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali.
“Every time I draw him always tak jadi,” laughed Earnest.
Other challenging characters include Rino, the one that looked like Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun.
“It’s a bit difficult when the person wears a tudung because hair is quite an important defining feature for comic characters,” he said.
Ernest added that the most fun was when people tried to guess the characters in his series.
"It sparks a conversation in the comment section. People guess the reference and when they're right, I like the comment," he said.
And my favourite character is...On his most favourite character to draw, Ernest said that it was most definitely the COVID-19 villain.
“The first COVID-19 virus was drawn to look like a combination of two Dragonball villains.
“I just finished a shoot when I first started developing the series. I needed ideas for the villain and just went nuts with it. It ended up looking like a parady of Picollo and Frieza.
“If you look at the COVID-19 virus in the latest chapter of the series, the one with Trump, you can see that the villain has a bit more detail. I mean, I put more thought into it lah,” he said.
Thank you to everyoneSpeaking of the popularity of the series, Ernest said that he owed it to his supporters.
“I would like to thank my fans from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the United States and even the Philippines,” he said adding that he hoped the comic would give Malaysians something to laugh about during this challenging time.
Ernest said that the series was available for free for everyone to enjoy but said that if anyone wanted to support his works, they could check out some of his published books which are on Popular’s website.
Here's a few of his latest works which you should check out:
Back To School Second Class
So, if you suka, support lah. #kitajagakita