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Comic Book Review: The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye

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By Emil Favila, Reporter

Part comic, part fictional biography, The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye tells the story of Singapore’s most underrated comic book artist.  Though the story is fiction, writer/artist Sonny Liew wanted a character that would chronicle the struggle of being a comic book artist in 1950’s Singapore.  Liew is such a great story teller that you would almost believe that Charlie Chan Hock Chye was a real comic book artist!  Sonny Liew tells both Singapore’s history and comic book history from the 50’s  to now.

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Charlie Chan Hock Chye explains the struggles of an artist in Singapore during the 1950’s time period.  He meets his long time friend and collaborator Bertrand in the street one day. Bertrand believes in his work and thinks they will go far.  Bertrand and Charlie would make many comic books together.  Money, family, and the pressure of a  stable life would eventually drift these two best friends apart.  I believe most people can relate to the hardships of creative marriage that Charlie and Bertrand had endured.  No two people can always be on the same page.  There will always be difference of opinion which can lead to great creative output.

Sonny Liew truly understands comic book history.  You can see nods to old comic books in Asia, indie titles, and mainstream Marvel.  Liew pays tribute to, Osamu Tezuka, Maus, and Jack Kirby.  You can tell this book is a labor of love for Liew.  It’s apparent that a lot of research had gone into making Charlie Chan especially when it came to imitating art styles from the 50’s to now.  Liew does a wonderful job imitating other artists from different genres of comics.  You would almost believe these famous artists contributed to the book.

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The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is like peeling an onion.  From the cover it seems like a very simple story of an artist trying to make it.  Charlie Chan is much deeper than that.  Charlie Chan is the story of every struggling artist looking for someone to give them a chance at comic book stardom!  Before reading this book.  I had no idea that comic books were important to the people of Singapore.  Though not a huge market it’s clear that comics had their place.  I had no clue who Johnny Lau and his creation Mr. Kiasu was before picking up Charlie Chan.  Liew is able to educate the mainstream comic book fans on stories from the east!

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If you are interested in comic book history or just a fan of great stories, The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew is a must buy!  You will have a better appreciation for  the love and labor that goes into comics books.  Liew is a master story teller and keeps the audience quite captivated.  I know for sure when time allows I will reread this story again!  Be sure to pick up your copy of The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye in the best sellers section of Amazon today!

Rating: ★★★★★

ComicsOnline gives The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye 5 of 5 panel hops!

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About Emil Favila

Emil Favila is a multi-instrumentalist/songwriter for Arlington, VA based group Atoms Apart. He is also a massive comic book enthusiast.

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