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Bringing ideas to life

He draws comics and designs art toys, but few would know Vomit Thunder by his real name

10 Aug 2020 / 10:22 H.

THE Cat Who Vomits Thunder is a hardworking little creature who sacrifices his own well-being and dreams for the sake of art. A cat who wears a happy face, but who feels worked to the bone on the inside.

The cat is a creation of Jonathan Edwards Liew, a sort of self-portrait which he recently turned into an art toy figure. They even share the same name.

However, no one who meets Liew for the first time would ever guess that his pen name is Vomit Thunder.

“I find the cat’s behaviour is relatable and that is how I draw myself. The reason why the cat has a dead look is that it represents the struggle of staying up until midnight working on art. It also means sacrificing for our dreams,” said Liew.

Like many fellow creatives, Liew has had an interest in creating art since he was young. His first comic book was published some three years ago. He got into designing his first figures last year. The result was another comic, about The Cat Who Vomits Thunder.

“I’ve enjoyed creating since childhood. But I only officially got into the comic and character design field in 2017, when my first horror-themed comic book, Closer to Black, was published by Keropok Comics & Popular Malaysia.

“I got into making art toys in 2019. For years, I told myself that ‘one day I will make my own toy’, but I have also wondered when that day will come, so last year I decided the answer is ‘now,” said Liew.

A comic artist by trade, Liew recently released a new comic called The Epic Fail: Legends of the Monkey King. It’s a fun retelling of the classic Chinese epic Journey to The West that does not take its source material too seriously.

“I was worried when I first decided to work on this story. The characters in Journey to The West are so established, and the story has been retold so many times.

“And so it was called The Epic Fail, because my idea was to mess up the whole story and concept that everyone already knows. Turns out I had a lot of fun during the creative process because of that,” said Liew.

He added that how the comic came to be was serendipitous. The idea evolved from some work he did in the past, a compilation that won him a special mention prize and caught the eye of his publisher.

“I created a similar story for a comic competition many years ago. While I was pitching my next work to a publisher, he stumbled upon my old sketches and was interested in them. He then suggested I should work on this story, which became The Epic Fail,” said Liew.

He also wears his inspirations on his sleeve, literally. They are apparent in both his work and the merchandise that he makes, which he then layers with inspiration from lore and myths in Taoism.

“I am a big fan of vintage toys, and classic comic and animation art, such as the works of Yoshito Usui (Crayon Shin Chan), Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy), and Go Nagai (Devilman).

“It was my grandmother who inspired me and introduced me to Taoist myths and lore ever since I was young,” said Liew.

$!The Epic Fail: Legends of the Monkey King. – COURTESY OF JONATHAN EDWARDS LIEW
The Epic Fail: Legends of the Monkey King. – COURTESY OF JONATHAN EDWARDS LIEW

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