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The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, the award-winning graphic novel by Singaporean cartoonist Sonny Liew, is being made into an animated series.
108 Media, a Singapore-based film production and distribution company, told The Straits Times that it was adapting the Eisner-winning comic book into a series spanning six half-hour episodes.
The project is still at the scriptwriting stage, and is being adapted by Jow Zhi Wei, Jerrold Chong, Shelby Goh and Roshan Singh.
Liew made waves at the international Eisner Awards in 2017 for the Charlie Chan comic, which won the prizes for Best Writer/Artist, Best US Edition of International Material - Asia, and Best Publication Design. The Eisners are equivalent to the Oscars for the comics industry.
Charlie Chan made headlines in 2015 after the Singapore government withdrew S$8,000 in arts funding for its publication the day before its launch, citing “sensitive content”. An official from the National Arts Council said that the book “potentially undermines the authority of legitimacy of the Government and its public institutions”.
The book went on to become a best seller, selling out several times.
The graphic novel presents an imagined alternative history of Singapore told by a fictional cartoonist. Through satire, it portrayed Singapore’s founding leader, Lee Kuan Yew – a well-respected but controversial figure – as a draconian ruler who does not tolerate criticism.
Liew has said that he merely wanted to present a more complex Singaporean history than that of official government narratives, but that apparently ruffled the feathers of the establishment.
108 Media also said that it was developing TV series for two other projects based on works by local authors: Neil Humphrey’s crime thriller, Marina Bay Sins (2015), and Gopal Baratham’s mystery novel Moonrise, Sunset (1996).
All three projects will be produced and shot in Singapore, and targeted for international release by 2022.