KRC writer Tan Xiang Yeow goes Upfront! with Sinann, an independent comic artist with a witty humour.
In his Billy & Saltie series, Sinann comments on psychological, social and environmental issues. The encounters of Billy, an Aboriginal boy, and Saltie, a gigantic saltwater crocodile, reflects Sinann’s thoughtful humour.
Here are two gems by Sinann:
Hi, Sinann, thanks for agreeing to the interview. So when did you first start to draw comics?
I started drawing comics when I was about 7 and dabbled with it till I was 15. Didn’t get back to it till I used my drawings to find work as an artist in my mid 20s. There were no personal incidents that prompted me to be a comic artist. I felt rather confident I could be one even though it was going against the grain then. In those days, there was no specific course for something in my field of work. Today, you can even obtain a degree in sequential art, which is, in essence, comic book drawing.
Now, where do you draw inspiration for your comics?
Anything and nothing can be my inspiration – it could be the presence of something that I’ve seen or heard before or the absence of it. I like to put the ideas that come out of these processes together, like jigsaw pieces, and see how they fit together at the end of the day.
What are the differences between a SPH comic artist and an independent comic artist?
Having been an SPH artist, I suppose it was more stable to be employed by an organisation. However, after my layoff, I found more time to pursue my other creations which were on the backburner for a while.
I understand, from a previous KRC article, that SPH didn’t even respond to your suggestion for a review of your book in 2011. This was despite you having been their employee for 17 continuous years before. How did you feel about it then?
Puzzled, I guess, since I don’t think that I’ve burned any bridges when I left.
Anyway, I have to move on or no work will be done. There’re no hard feelings. After all, that’s where I cut my teeth. I simply hope that there isn’t any misunderstanding in any quarters in any way.
As an independent comic artist in Singapore, what are some challenges you have faced?
If you mean ‘competition’, I usually welcome it. I like to ask an organisation, “is that the best you’ve got?” and show them what I can come up with.
But, if you refer to the deliberate attempts to ignore my work just to make yours look good, that’s another sort of challenge which I or any person will find unfair. Singapore has to show the best that she has got, if she has it. This is not the time for private agendas and face-saving measures.
Do you mind sharing what you’re working on now?
Billy & Saltie’s keeping me pretty busy and I also have a weekly editorial called Event Horizon. This cartoon series makes fun of the latest happenings in science and discovery (and, to a lesser extent, politics). Do check it out!
The pressure’s there – the daily deadlines – but I enjoy this challenge.
Do you have any advice for aspiring comic artists?
Advice. Hmm, I wish there were a formula for humour but there isn’t – it’s not an exact science and is as unpredictable as the weather. I don’t really have the time to teach but I don’t mind showing any cartoonist who has potential the basics in terms of punch lines and delivery.
And yes, please don’t be afraid to think out of the box. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about – as a cartoonist, I deal with boxes all the time! This job may have its rewards but it isn’t easy. Stay focused, be consistent and don’t be afraid to fail!
Thanks, Sinann, for agreeing to this interview.
For now, let’s take a look at more Billy & Saltie comics!
Did you enjoy these gems of comics? Why not buy Sinann’s books now and indulge in more moments of thoughtful humour?
To purchase a copy of Billy & Saltie, please contact Sinann directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.