The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye to be animated series; Neil Humphreys, Gopal Baratham score adaptations too

All three projects will be produced and shot in Singapore, and targeted for international release earliest next year.
All three projects will be produced and shot in Singapore, and targeted for international release earliest next year.PHOTOS: EPIGRAM BOOKS, ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singaporean graphic novel The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye (2015) will make its leap to the screen as an animated series.

International producer and distributor 108 Media will be adapting the Eisner Award-winning book by Singaporean cartoonist Sonny Liew.

108 Media, which is headquartered in Singapore, also picked up the rights for Marina Bay Sins (2015), a crime thriller by Singapore-based British humorist Neil Humphreys, and Moonrise, Sunset, a 1996 mystery novel by local literary pioneer Gopal Baratham.

All three projects are at the scriptwriting stage. They will be produced and shot in Singapore and targeted for international release next year or in 2022.

108 Media president Justin Deimen, 35, who is co-producing the three adaptations, said: "As a born and bred Singaporean who has devoured all manner of local fare since young, I'm bursting with pride to be able to adapt the work of some of our country's absolute best writers - and these books in particular - into different spaces and places around the world."

The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, a landmark work in local comics that depicts Singapore's political history through the eyes of a fictional cartoonist, is being adapted by young Singaporean writers Jow Zhi Wei, Jerrold Chong, Shelby Goh and Roshan Singh as a series of six half-hour episodes.

Liew, 46, said many individuals and companies had approached him about adapting his highly complex graphic novel, but none of them could actually work out how.

"The difference with 108 Media was that they put together a team of writers to figure out how to break down the book and make the adaptation work. I think that showed a level of commitment the others didn't quite have."

He said the thought of a screen adaptation was "exciting and a little bit scary".

"As a comic artist, you have a lot of control over the product, whereas once you let it go into the world and other people get involved, it will change. It's going to be interesting to see how the other people involved see this in a new medium."

Marina Bay Sins, the first book in Humphreys' gritty crime series about police inspector Stanley Low, will be adapted into Low, a television series of eight hour-long episodes set in Singapore and London, with Britain-based director Paris Zarcilla as show-runner.

Its sequel novels, Rich Kill Poor Kill (2016) and the upcoming Bloody Foreigners, will be adapted as subsequent seasons.

Humphreys, 45, said: "I can't tell you how excited I am that inspector Low is going to be unleashed upon the world. Having lived with him inside my head for five years, I think it's only fair that everyone else gets to see this uncensored, unstoppable, misanthropic detective on screen."

Moonrise, Sunset, in which a young Chinese-Indian man wakes up next to his murdered fiancee and has to prove his innocence, is being adapted as a four-episode limited series, directed by Singapore's K. Rajagopal and Malaysia's Shanjhey Perumal.

The cast includes local theatre veterans Neo Swee Lin and Lim Kay Siu, as well as Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai, who will play Vanitha Sundram, the murdered woman.

Baratham's son Sayana Baratham, 57, called the adaptation a "wonderful way" to rejuvenate the work of his late father, a neurosurgeon and award-winning author who died in 2002.

"It will be fascinating to see his characters and vision of Singapore brought to life on screen," he says.