Straits Times artist draws support for the less fortunate

Mr Mat Tocang gives Miel and Lee Chee Chew each a caricature of themselves at the meet-and-greet at Times Waterway. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
Mr Mat Tocang gives Miel and Lee Chee Chew each a caricature of themselves at the meet-and-greet at Times Waterway. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
Meow and I'd Say notebooks by Straits Times artists Miel and Lee Chee Chew respectively. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - A notebook featuring comic characters he created has tickled many readers and has been selling like hotcakes but Straits Times artist Lee Chee Chew will not be laughing all the way to the bank with the royalties for I'd Say.

Instead, he will donate them to help a Vietnamese boy, Phung Thien Nhan, 12, who was abandoned at birth and left to die. While alone, the boy was mauled by a dog, which bit off his right leg and genitals.

The 51-year-old veteran artist said: "Since 2013, my readers and I have raised about $150,000 to help pay for Thien Nhan's life-long medical care, rehabilitation and education. His adoptive mother also uses part of the fund to help other disabled kids in Vietnam who are in need of surgery."

Miel, another veteran ST artist, has also produced a notebook, titled Meow.

The 53-year-old said he was inspired by his two cats and the art is all new: "They were done from scratch, like a cat would." About 1,000 copies of each notebook have been published.

Sixty copies of each were on sale at a special meet-and-greet session on Saturday (Jan 27) at Times bookstore at Waterway Point shopping centre in Punggol Central.

Times' senior merchandising manager Stephen Fung told ST his company always tries to support local talents.

He said: "The two notebooks are now within the top 20 titles in terms of sales."

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Miel has illustrated numerous books and government publications. He also wrote Singatoons in 2003 and SceneGapore in 2012.

He said: "A fourth after Meow will be SceneGapore 2. I hope to get it out by next year."

Mr Lee has three other books to his name. They are compilations of his popular 'Chew on it!' comic strips.

He said: "Unlike my comic books, this notebook allows readers to pen their punchlines in empty speech bubbles to create their own cartoons. I'd like to call this the 'old-school interactive book'."

Many fans queued up to meet the artists for their autographs.

One of them, relief teacher Chong Yuen Foong, said she is a huge fan of Mr Lee's work: "As a Singaporean, I can relate to them. His comics are the only ones that can make me laugh all the time."

Ms Marion Ng, who is in her 60s and semi-retired, likes Miel's notebook as it features drawings of cats. She said: "I love animals and I support animal welfare."

Meow and I'd Say cost $13.91 each. They are available at all leading bookstores.

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