Singaporean graphic artist Sonny Liew has become the first Singaporean to win the international comic industry’s prestigious Eisner Award at this year’s edition of Comic-Con in the United States.
According to news reports, he has won the Best Writer/Artist, Best US Edition of International Material and Best Publication Design. He was also nominated for 6 awards in total, making his book, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, the first Singaporean to clinch the most number of Eisner nominations.
The annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards are deemed the “Oscars” of the comic industry, where the best comics and artists go to feature their work.
The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is a fictional story set in Singapore’s early modern history, telling the experiences of a fictional comic book artist Charlie Chan interspersed with the stories of late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and opposition politician Lim Chin Siong and other historical events.
Since its launch, the book has also won other prestigious awards such as the Book of the Year for Singapore Book Awards 2016 and the Singapore Literature Prize 2016 (English Fiction). It was also one of the first Singaporean books to appear on international bestseller lists by both Amazon and The New York Times.
These accolades come despite an implicit ban by the National Arts Council on the book, who withdrew funding for the publication of the book one day before its 30 May launch.
While notables in the Singapore literature, publishing and comic industry have been quick to praise Sonny Liew, the government and its arts bodies have been completely silent about Singapore’s most famed comic artist.