The sit-down comic

08 Dec 2016 / 11:05 H.

JOURNEYING through life can be a tall order at times. None of us are taught on how to deal with it, however we can take comfort in the fact that all of us are going through it, albeit separately. It’s not surprising then that most of us relate to, and to an extent, experience the same thing.
And it is within this premise that Chen Weinye’s webcomic works. Humorous and relevant, her comic is told through a red-headed cartoon girl. The character – who is actually a fictional version of herself – and the episodic storyline resonate so well that her art has amassed over 10,000 followers on social media.
“Ever since I was a child, I have always been drawing and painting. My parents have been supportive since the beginning, so venturing into the creative field seemed natural. I love to draw and paint because it’s the only time when I’m not thinking about anything else. In fact, I’m so focused that I can sit and draw for 17 to 18 hours straight,” divulged the illustrator and multimedia designer.
An alumna of San Francisco’s Academy of Art University, Chen recently returned to Malaysia and is now working as an assistant instructor at an art workshop while freelancing on the side. The 29-year-old is also a resident comic artist for a New Yorkbased art collective magazine, The Rack NYC.
What do you want to achieve with your webcomics?
I started the webcomics back when I was in San Francisco. I was alone, bored and it became sort of like a mini journal to update my friends back home. It’s mostly for the sake of entertainment as the content is made up of funny encounters that I experienced in life.
You said that you aspire to become a children’s book illustrator. Can you tell us more about this?
I really love children’s books and I collect them. This is probably driven by my fondness for kids. I especially like to watch children interact among themselves – their innocence is very refreshing. As such, I’d like to start a children’s book movement in Malaysia where books are more relatable in terms of culture. I think it’s very important for kids to see themselves whenever they watch a movie or read a book. If books are more relatable then children might read more and would hopefully grow to love reading.
Have you started working on your own children’s book yet?
When I was in university, I had a done a few drafts – where I even had mock books and everything – but I haven’t had the time to finish a whole book since it’s time-consuming. Nevertheless, I already have a few Malaysian-based children’s stories drafted so it’s just a matter of sitting down and drawing the illustrations.
In your opinion, how is your illustration different from the others out there?
Aesthetic is dependent on personal preference, hence I’m not too worried about it as it’s only natural that some people will like it and some will not. However, I think that content is very important as it determines whether your audience can relate to your art. When people look at my work, I want them to feel something instead of just looking at a picture.
Which is more important: talent or hard work?
Hard work is definitely more important. I noticed that there are talented people who end up stagnating because they were overconfident, whereas others who had zero knowledge of art became good because they were willing to put in the effort. Talent helps, but hard work is decisive.
Bloom or foliage: Foliage.
Happy place: Lying in bed on rainy days with no worries.
Last read: In Search Of Lost Time by Marcel Proust.
Love to have: A lifetime of art supplies.
Five must-haves: Family, good friends, good food, good music and her art.

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