The September edition and third anniversary of Sharpened Word featured two speakers namely, Sarah Joan Mokhtar and Max Loh. The event was held at 19, Jalan Tun Sambanthan on Saturday, September 15.
Sarah has a colourful career as a cartoonist, illustrator and writer. Among the awards she won were the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) Comic (2007), first runner-up in Malaysian British Council “In Print” National Art Competition (2007), Napoleon Hill International Convention (2010) and Malaysia Contemporary Mural Painting (2010).
Max Loh is a biomedical science graduate and works as a research officer while being a freelance cartoonist. He has been creating comics independently for over a decade.
Both cartoonists are co-founders of UnNamed, an online comics collective for South East Asian creators.
The session kicked off with the speakers sharing their experience publishing their first comic books.
“During Canteen Day at school, parents came to me for pictures after reading my works. It’s a great experience,” said Sarah. Her debut comic strip, “Awek Aspuri” was featured in a popular local comic magazine, “Ujang” when she was just 14.
“I began with comics in 2002 when I was in Form 5. There was this comic fiesta, so my friends and I decided to make a comic book. We’d only two weeks to work on it. It’s a great start and inspired me to produce more comics,’ recalled Max.
Avid comic fans since they were teenagers, they shared their inspiration with the audience, made up mostly of youngsters.
“I was born in the 80s. Being an introvert, my hobbies included reading, drawing and watching Saturday morning television shows. In my teens, I used to read “Gila – Gila” magazine. My father is a collector of the “Kampung Boy” series by Datuk Lat and without realising, I was hooked. Then, I got inspired by Japanese manga with my favorite being Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama. Sailor Moon was also a huge hit then,” said Sarah.
“I was so motivated to be an animator and to develop stories in comics. I love character designs and the element of life in comics,” added Sarah. She has been selected to participate in the Atlantic Centre for the Arts in Florida by Craig Thompson, a famous American graphic novelist.
Max likes to recreate animated characters that he loves.
“I learnt to draw and paint from my mum. I was taught all about drawing tools in art class,” said Max.
A one-on-one session was held where the two guest speakers reviewed the artworks by fine art students from UiTM Seri Iskandar and Sunway College.
Youngsters, said the speakers, should not be afraid to go out and show what they are capable of. They should participate in comic fiestas to gain experience and to make friends with those who share similar interests.
Check out Sarah’s work on Instagram (@sarahjoanmokhtar) and Twitter (@sarahkartunis) as well as Max Loh’s on Twitter (@Maxsterism).