Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lat-titude

Q: Why is Town Boy such an enduring favourite with Malay-sians?
A: I think many people look at Town Boy as something that promotes unity, friendship and encourages people to understand others' cultures.
Cartoonist and yes, let's call him graphic novelist, Datuk Mohd Noor Khalid, alias Lat, talks in the New Straits Times today about reflecting a multi-cultural Malaysian society in his work.

Town Boy and Kampong Boy were two of the first books I was recommended to read when I first landed in Malaysia to teach back in 1984. These gentle and humourous tales were the best introduction I could have had, and were clearly created with someone with a keen eye for human foibles, as well as a love and respect for the different races.

I must confesss that in those early months here, I had many "Lat moments" when I recognised his characters in the street or in the coffee shop, or among my own teaching colleagues!

(See also this entry on Kak Teh's blog and Amir Muhammad's excellent review of Kampung Boy*.

(*Thanks Preeta for reminding me.)

10 comments:

Abdullah said...

Lat has defined Malaysia for many people.. In fact, I can't think of a Malaysia without Lat!

Anonymous said...

"Lat's the Way Aha Aha I Like It"

-PPDD

Anonymous said...

Lat is a good cartoonist, but his cartoons don't reflect everyday life in modern Malaysia so much as they reflect everyday life in Malaysia several decades ago. In his cartoons, people eat with their hands, there's no such thing as satellite TV and suits are only worn by westerners. The sophisticated, urbane Malaysian rarely figures in his work. Kam Raslan's "Dato' Hamid", although quintessentially Malaysian, will probably not find a lot of space in his work.

(Disclaimer : this is written from personal experience. I've read a few of his books, and I dont recall a cartoon in which a Malaysian wears a suit, sits at a table and uses cutlery.)

Anonymous said...

I suppose that's one of the many reasons for Lat's cartoon's popularity - the sense of nostalgia, of a simpler way of life lost...

- PPDD

Yusuf/Martin said...

's funny it was the same for me back in 1981 when I set foot in Malaysia for the first time - my then sister-in-law gave me Lat's Kampung Boy, which I still have all these years later. It was a good introduction, but dare I be controversial and say it was his best and never bettered work.

Time for another I believe - any one know his address here in Perak and I'll go ask him to produce another.

bibliobibuli said...

anon - malaysia has changed so much in such a short space of time and sadly not always for the better. one book actually took this for a theme, i think, his kids not knowing about the simple joys of his own childhood.

yusuf - "the kampung boy" is best, though i loved " the town boy" too. "mat som" is v. good too. and i loved all the cartoons ... used to look forward to the days when he appeared in the nst (fridays?) ... all the teachers in our staff room would try to grab the paper to be first to enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Lat used to do some mildly biting political cartoons for NST, but since his ship came in ("The Datuk"), that seems to have fizzled out...

- PPDD

Anonymous said...

Bib,

I think now maybe he can write (and draw) about his kids' kids (:P) not knowing the joys of life without satellite TV and Internet :)

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that must have been a coincidence, PPDD.. right? :)

Anonymous said...

I'm SURE it is, Anon at 4.11! :-))))

(I'm also waiting for the SS The Datuk-ship to pick me up) :-))))

- PPDD