Singaporean graphic novelist Sonny Liew tops nominations for Eisner comic awards

Graphic novelist Sonny Liew's The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye has been nominated for six awards at this year's Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.
Graphic novelist Sonny Liew's The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye has been nominated for six awards at this year's Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.PHOTO: ST FILE

Singaporean graphic novelist Sonny Liew has topped the nominations for this year's Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards with six nominations.

The prestigious Eisner awards, the nominations of which were announced on Tuesday (May 2) by Comic-Con International, are considered the Academy Awards of the comics world.

Liew's graphic novel The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is nominated in the categories of Best Graphic Album-New, Best US Edition of International Material-Asia, Best Writer/Artist, Best Colouring, Best Lettering, and Best Publication Design.

Liew, 42, says: "It's a little giddying of course, though I'm caught between steeling myself for disappointment and just enjoying the moment, and seesawing in between those feelings every other minute."

He has been nominated in the past for works like Liquid City, but this is the first time he has led the charge on the Eisner nominations.

 

"Manga from Japan is probably what most readers in the US think about when they think of Asian comics, so hopefully this will shine some light on the sheer diversity of comics from the region," he adds.

He comes in ahead of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' Saga with four nominations and Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' Kill Or Be Killed.

The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, which was published in Singapore in 2015 by Epigram Books and in the United States last year by Pantheon, is a satirical retelling of Singapore's journey to nationhood through the eyes of a fictional Singaporean artist.

Written and drawn by Liew, a Malaysia-born Singapore citizen, it became the subject of controversy after The Straits Times broke the news in 2015 that the National Arts Council had withdrawn an $8,000 publishing grant awarded to the novel.

The book includes satires and caricatures of Singapore's founding Prime Minister, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, as well as his political rival, Mr Lim Chin Siong.

It has since gone on to be the first local graphic novel to win the Singapore Literature Prize and also climbed to the top of bestsellers lists for Amazon and The New York Times last year.

Named after the pioneering artist and writer Will Eisner, the annual awards are voted for online by professionals in the comic book industry and results will be announced on July 21 at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

This year's nominees include more than 120 titles from some 50 publishers and by creators from all over the world.