Wong draws on talents to earn a living

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 January, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 January, 2001, 12:00am

When did you have your first contact with comics?

I was seven years old when I came to Hong Kong from China. I read the comics in one of the local newspapers. You never saw those in China. I was fascinated by comics and read them almost daily. About one year later, I started reading comic books. Then I decided to draw cartoons myself.

Did you learn drawing from comic books?

I didn't try to copy the sketches that appeared in comic books. I just wanted to do my own artwork. I still remember my first cartoon - it was a boy.

When were your comics first published in a newspaper?

I think it was about two or three years after I started drawing. I mailed my sketches to local newspapers.

They were mostly based on a short, simple story. I lost count of the number of cartoons I sent to the publishers. But my perseverence paid off.

Could you tell me about the life of cartoonists in the past?

Well, it wasn't too bad.

I worked as a trainee in a comics company.

Being a trainee, you have to learn to draw cartoons as well as clean up the office. I did not get a salary but they offered me two meals and a place to live.

Then I was about 14 years old, and whenever I finished my cleaning work, I could start drawing cartoons. If my cartoons were selected for publication, I would get about 30 cents. I earned almost $10 a month, much more than the salary of an ordinary worker.

When I was still a trainee, I saw many famous cartoonists enjoying themselves at night clubs. You know, going out dancing was a kind of luxury at that time.

Did you have any discourag ing moments in your life as a cartoonist?

In 1969, when I was about 19 years old, there were riots in Hong Kong. It caused an economic depression and many comics companies were folded. At about the same time, Japanese comics began to flood the Hong Kong market and became a real threat to local publishers. Since I was only a trainee then, I could not find a company which would publish my cartoons.

How do you get inspiration to draw comic strips?

I try to improve myself by reading more books and continuing to practise. I read comics as well as a lot of fiction in order to come up with more ideas.

In recent years, I have been watching movies rather than reading books. Movies have action, and they convey the message in a much more thorough and realistic manner. This can help broaden my imagination.

Have you lacked inspiration at any time?

I seldom have this problem. Characters are based on the story.

A cartoonist has to bring in additional elements and come up with an attractive package.

How did you feel when you first saw Japanese comics?

I think I first came across Japanese comics in 1969. I found that their descriptions were more active. Reading those comics was just like seeing movies - they emphasised angles. So, I tried to acquire those skills and use them to improve myself.

Have you created any car toons based on your life story?

Yes, Wong Siu-fu, one of the main characters in Oriental Heroes, is quite similar to me. He is brave but mischievous and always battles injustice.

What is the main function of comics books?

Comics are for entertainment. Being a cartoonist, I seldom use comics to teach people or imply something significant. Of course, political cartoons reflect what's happening in the world. There is a big difference between them and my comics. We carry out different functions.

What is the criteria for draw ing good cartoons?

Talent is a very important element. Otherwise, no matter how hard you may try, you will not be able to produce a good piece of work.

Name: Wong Yuk-loong

Birthplace: China

Occupation: Cartoonist

Wong Yuk-loong seldom lacks ideas for his cartoons. He says talent is very important to become a successful cartoonist. Wong said he was fascinated by comics since arriving in Hong Kong as a seven- year-old immigrant from the mainland.

Soon afterwards, he decided to try his hand at drawing cartoons. By the time he was 14, what he earned from drawing was higher than the salary of an ordinary worker. Wong has never looked back and he is now known as the master of Hong Kong cartoons.