When blogger Goh Kheng Swee opted to use drawings instead of text and pictures to tell a story he encountered while taking the public transport, he never expected to receive so much positive feedback from readers.
But since he did, Kheng Swee decided that drawing was a good way to express his thoughts and opinions, and decided to continue doing so on his blog.
Today, Miao & WafuPafu Comic Blog (www.akiraceo.com) has close to 1,000 unique visitors per day and almost 1,400 Likes on its Facebook fan page.
“When I first started blogging in 2007, I used text and pictures to tell my story, just like many bloggers out there. However, I realised I could tell the same story and make it even more interesting and funnier through my drawings and that was when I decided to make the switch,” said Kheng Swee, who is popularly known as Jian Goh or Miao.
Jian blogs about interesting things he sees or incidents he experiences, in a comical way. He draws himself as a cat and appearing alongside him are his two hamsters – Wafu and Pafu.
“I love cats and also happen to be the only cat lover among my friends. At the same time, I am from Kuching, Sarawak, or Cat City.
“Wafu and Pafu were given to me by a friend. Sadly, they died two years ago and I now have to draw halos on top of their heads in my drawings,” said the 26-year-old engineer.
For Jian, drawing is very different from writing a blog post. It is not practical to draw every single detail or an entire story from start to end. He also needs to ensure that the message he wants to convey is clear, using the right amount of frames which ranges from three to 10 per blog posts.
“I always give my story a twist or a punch line at the end to make the post interesting or funny and usually, this would be the most difficult part,” he shared.
Jian uses Adobe Fireworks and Adobe Illustrator to sketch his drawings, which some initially thought was almost impossible, or at the very least, an insane thing to do.
“When I first started, I only used the basic shape and line tools to draw my characters. It was hideous but I found it acceptable back then.
“It was tough drawing with a mouse, but practice makes perfect. As I got more familiar with the software, my characters were ‘upgraded’ and given a facelift. It’s what I like to call, version 3.0,” he said.
While Jian has his two hamsters to accompany him on his blogging journey, Ernest Ng has his four “brothers” to count on to keep his blog, Bro, Don’t Like That La, Bro (dontlikethatbro.blogspot.com) going.
In his comics, Ernest focuses on his experiences with four close friends – Jamus, Daryl, Shamus and Jon – whom he refers to as his “bros”.
“Jon once pooped in his pants when he tried to fart and I told myself that I needed to let the world know about his misfortune.
“That incident inspired my comics from the very beginning. The story eventually spanned into nine separate blog posts,” said the 25-year-old video editor and part-time freelance emcee.
Unlike Kheng Swee, Ernest sticks to a six-frame template for each post, which forces him to compact his ideas.
“Sometimes, little details of the story get omitted from the final strip but I will try to avoid that if I could. If the nature of the story does not permit it to be summarised (in such a way), I will just stretch out the story into a few blog posts or draw a few more frames and call it a special edition,” he said.
Ernest updates his blog every Monday and Thursday, although he tries to draw as much as possible during his free time.
“I usually draw about two weeks’ worth of content in advance so I can take my time to draw for the subsequent weeks. That way I still have time for social activities while drawing newer strips at a steady pace,” he explained.
It is fairly easy to notice the differences between one artwork and another, as each artist has his or her own unique styles.
“Different styles of drawings will draw different types of readers to your blogs. I do not think there is one style that fits everyone’s taste,” said Ernest.
Unlike Jian and Ernest who draw their comics straight on the computer, Pauline Low Pou Leen and Tan Wai Kit both use the old school method of drawing with a pen, and on paper. They then get their drawings scanned, and digitally coloured. Such method can take up to two to six hours to complete.
“I may draw the comic but it is my co-author Dan Khoo who colours them as I am not good with the software,” said Wai Kit who runs Bolehland (www.bolehland.net) together with Dan.
Bolehland revolves around Dan and Wai Kit’s lives, and is drawn in a four-frame comic.
Sometimes, fans and readers of Bolehland will come up to them and praise their work. “We are always happy when our work is recognised. Sometimes, I even use my friends’ stories as story ideas.
“So far, no one is offended yet,” said Wai Kit, 24.
He added that readers tend to perceive him as the really shy and quiet one while Dan is the more outgoing guy.
Although their works do manage to gain some popularity in the blogosphere, one of the disadvantages of being a comic blogger is that they miss out on the opportunities and perks (like monetary gains) other bloggers seem to be getting.
“Dan and I decided not to do gadget or food reviews or accept advertisements to maintain the blog’s direction. Because of that, we are probably missing out on some really good opportunities,” said Wai Kit.
For Pauline, who runs I Know You Don’t Give a Damn about My Life (iknowyoudontgiveadamnaboutmylife.blogspot.com), her blog is a private sanctuary for her.
“I disclose very personal information on my blog, things that I will not normally share in real life, not even with my family or friends. But, at the same time, it is through my blog that they get to see a different side of me.
“I feel more comfortable revealing my inner feelings through my comics while injecting some humour into it,” said Pauline, 20, who is studying Law at Universiti Malaya.
Pauline even blogs about her love life, which seems to be a recurring topic on her blog.
“I am not afraid to let others know about my personal stuff online, but when people come up and ask me about the things I posted, it gets a little awkward,” she said.
Even though her friends and family members know the existence of her blog, none of them have asked to be featured. However, they are quite amused that she uses them as characters in her comic strip.
All four comic bloggers, despite the differences in drawing style and genre, seemed to agree on one thing and have the same dream – to compile their comic strips and get them published into a book.
Being a comic blogger is not easy as there are times when people would criticise their work for various reasons. Still, perserverence is the key to success.
“We had a tough time at first what with people criticising our work but in the end, what is important is that we have fun,” said Wai Kit.
Ernest encourages upcoming bloggers to pick up a pencil and paper and start drawing.
“It does not mean anything if one has lots of ideas yet do not take the first step to translate them into drawings,” he noted.