No one can be more inspiring than one’s best buddies, web cartoonist Ernest Ng tells Rozana Sani
AT one point in your life, you would probably have a group of close friends who seem like family. You’re so comfortable with each other that you spend hours together confiding in each other, knowing they will be there for you in times of need.
Video editor and comic blogger Ernest Ng, 26, counts himself lucky to have such buddies. Ng and his pals from childhood grew up together. They still spend time together.
Ng immortalises these moments in his webcomic series Bro, Don’t Like That La, Bro (www.dontlikethatbro.blogspot.com).
“I was born and raised in Malacca, the second of three children to a doctor and a nurse. We were expected to pursue professional careers from young but I felt it wasn’t for me. I was always more on the creative side — I grew up on Doraemon, Scoobydoo and magazines like Gempaq and Ujang. I was always doodling and drawing cartoons in exercise books. I always had something up my sleeves and I liked to make people laugh. I guess this knack for drawing and a sense of humour developed further when I became friends with the bros,” says the friendly chap with a chuckle.
Ng met his bros — Jamus the Chef, Daryl the Comedian,Shamus the Party-Time, and Jon the Muscle — at a youth camp on a weekend when in school.
They clicked well together and, to their delight, lived near each other. That was the beginning of many hangout sessions. After leaving school, all five furthered their education in Kuala Lumpur and became housemates.
BIRTH OF WEB-COMIC SERIES
The idea of posting the blog comic series based on the gang came about in 2010.
“It all began with a challenge by one of the guys. A girl who belonged to a group like ours, did a drawing and my friends said that I could do better. At that point, I hadn’t been drawing since I left school. Anyway, I created a picture of the five of us. I was so embarassed by this childish picture that I decided to colour it,” says Ng.
The result was pleasing to his eyes and he decided to make a comic series based on this drawing and post it on a blog. He says the series can be considered a comic biography of him and his friends, with 95 per cent a portrayal of their real lives.
He believes the subject of his comic resonates with many who also live the “brother” culture.
“Firstly, not many people post cartoons on their blogs — not in this country anyway. I thought I’d have a better chance of increasing traffic for my blog.
“As to the title — well, one of us always checks with his girlfriend before we meet. We would tease him about it. He would respond “Bro, don’t like that la, bro” and that became our catchphrase!”
The format of Ng’s entries is short, direct and focused on six framed comic strips. He creates his artwork using Adobe Illustrator CS2 software on his six-year-old Acer notebook which he has owned since university. He does his sketches first and then scans them and adds colours.
“The challenge is to cram a story into six frames. I try hard to make it as funny as possible. Drawing is easier than writing as it allows me to be more expressive,” he says.
Although at the initial stage it was more experimental and for fun, the response from family, friends and readers was so good that Ng decided to put in more effort.
“I have single-handedly exposed (almost) all my buddies’ secrets and embarrassing stories to the Internet populace without any repercussions so far!”
Ng updates his blog every Monday, Thursday and Saturday although he tries to draw as much as possible in his free time.
“I usually draw about two weeks’ worth of content in advance so I have time for social activities,” he says, adding that he usually draws into the wee hours of the morning.
His blog has received 438,778 visits at Press time. He also has a Facebook page for the webcomic.
Last year, Ng was named Nuffnang’s Featured Blogger for November and he was Blogger Of The Year at the recent Digi Wwwow Awards. His name has been listed as a speaker in Nuffnang Malaysia’s First Ever Blogopolis, which will be held on Saturday, together with industry experts and a bevy of local and regional top bloggers who will share their experiences and blogging tips.
“It has been such an honour. My webcomic series has opened a lot of doors for me. I get people requesting artworks and designs from me.”
His works are featured in @Kampus, a free magazine for local university students.
He also has an ongoing project in collaboration with Jian Goh, Pouleen Low, Dan Khoo and Tan Wai Kit.
“We came up with a desk calendar showcasing our works which reflect local culture and humour. The response was very good for the 2012 edition and we intend to continue.”
Many fans have been asking for the animated version of Bro, Don’t Like That La, Bro. Ng puts on a secretive smile when asked about it.
“It’s in the works and hopefully will debut within the year.” And apparently there are other things in the pipeline too, which Ng can’t reveal just yet.
Will there be other comic titles? There are plans, Ng says, but the focus now is on the Bros.
“It’s a rare thing, this friendship. Keep your bros close and savour the moment. Life doesn’t have to be too serious,” he says with a twinkle in his eyes.