Being part of Perak Festival of Ideas 2017, the September edition of Sharpened Word welcomed three guest panelists, Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid, Hassan Muthalib and Azmi Hussin. It was held on Saturday, September 9 at the Old Andersonians’ Club.
For the very first time, the event was graced by Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir. In order to raise funds for this monthly event, Sharpened Word held its first auction of a caricature drawn by Azmi. It depicted the three speakers, along with their signatures. The starting price was RM150. The drawing was sold to Zambry who bid RM1000.
Once the excitement was over, Sharpened Word’s second anniversary was celebrated with a cake-cutting ceremony before the panel discussion.
Cartoonist Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid, better known as Lat, is loved by all Malaysians. He has produced over 20 volumes of cartoons. His first work was published when he was 12.
“My fondest memories were those from my primary school in Pasir Puteh. I still remember the teachers, students and how it was like. In secondary school, I already thought of leaving and working as an illustrator,” said Lat.
When he worked in Kuala Lumpur in 1974, he would draw what people were associated with back then. At that time, it was the beginning of traffic jams and mini buses. He would look for people with little stories and turn them into his stories.
In 1955, when Hassan Muthalib was still in primary school, he would sit at the back of the class and enjoyed switching the on and off switch of a 16mm projector. It never occurred to him that one day he would be involved in producing films he had watched using the 16mm projector.
“Back in 1970s, there were only two to three animators so we didn’t have anyone to look up to as mentors. With the advancement of digital technology, animators and filmmakers are rather common these days,” Hassan remarked.
As a self-taught animator, writer and director, Hassan’s works have not been influenced by anybody. He writes a lot of satires, which many people do not understand.
Born and bred in Penang, Azmi Hussin became a full-time caricature artist out of desperation in 2013. He is a huge fan of Lat and has now produced three comic books – ‘Tanjong Life’, ‘The Little Mamak’ and ‘Lost in Bagan’.
“I used to draw for fun. I brought more comics rather than textbooks to school. I’d get punished for drawing caricatures of my teachers,” said an amused Azmi.
Azmi attended an art college to study graphic design but could not finish the course, as the fee was too prohibitive. However, with improved digital technology, Azmi said that it is easier to learn through sites like YouTube.
His first book, ‘Tanjong Life’, was published in 2015. He was delighted to have his mentor, Lat, launch his book. Azmi used to copy drawings from Lat’s ‘Kampung Boy’ before creating his own characters. He got tips from Lat on how to improve his future works.
“The places I grew up are now filled with high-rise buildings. I’d engage with the locals for stories to help me recall the past. When I get the ideas, the originality and nostalgia remain. So when people read my books, they’d smile to themselves because they have experienced it. If I draw situations in malls, the essence just isn’t there,” added Azmi.
Currently, he is working on his fourth book with caricatures to educate students and those who are interested in drawing. He wants people to know the difference between caricature and portrait.