Welcome to the DIASPORA Virtual gallery section, an archive of works from the comics strip section curated by Lim Cheng Tju.
Participating artists:
Loo Fang Kai
FsC (Foo Swee Chin)
Sam Lay

What happens when sequential art is adapted to a new medium? Curator Lim Cheng Tju explores how comics are changed in the digital domain and how older methods of creating comics have to adapt in an era of portable devices becoming the dominant platform for media consumption. A commentary on relevance and the struggle of traditional artist platforms and technology.
Comix-Man (漫画侠) was a monthly one-pager that ran in Lianhe Zaobao from 3 November 2019 to 7 November 2021. The pitch was: Superhero/wuxia story where the characters and interactions are inspired by art and comics. 
The initial plan was to pencil and ink traditionally, and use the computer only for colouring and lettering. However, I was dissatisfied with the results, and decided to redo everything digitally. I like to tell myself that if I hadn't been so quick to give up on traditional, if I had refined my pencils, approached the inks more deliberately, planned the values more carefully, I should have been able to produce an acceptable page. But maybe this is arrogance. The truth is probably that I am just overly dependent on digital tools. I often find myself mentally trying to press a non-existent Undo key when I draw traditionally. The ease of adjusting things on software has both devalued and degraded my ability to place a line on paper accurately. Of course, digital tools are fast, forgiving, can mimic all kinds of traditional mediums, and have opened up myriad possibilities such as animation and interactivity. As always, pros and cons...

Quiz time! Are the coloured streaks fired by the antagonist made of 1) Light, or 2) Paint? The streaks combine to form white, so the answer has to be 1) Light. This is called additive colour mixing, and it is how TVs and screens work. When all the wavelengths of light are mixed together, we get white light, like in Newton's prism experiment. The opposite is subtractive colour mixing, which applies to paints and inks and other pigments. The more colours of paint we mix together, the darker and blacker we go. What really blew my mind when I was learning this stuff is that in the world of light, yellow is not a primary colour! We get yellow light by mixing red and green light. The primaries of red, blue, and yellow that we learn about in art class apply only to pigments. When it comes to light, the primaries are red, blue, and green. Why, then, you might ask, does the antagonist's attack contain yellow? Was the artist 1) Trying to comment on the dissociation felt by artists trying to navigate between digital and traditional realms, or did he 2) Only realise this issue when writing this paragraph? Jokes aside, it is indeed a challenge to straddle digital and traditional. In the case of this comic, I would say that the greatest difficulty was with adapting the layout for online viewing. Even if I had stuck strictly to the grid and ensured every single panel was the same size, therefore avoiding size issues when rearranging vertically, there would still have been loss of flow.

For this issue, one of my objectives was to mock the perception that some people have of digital work being somehow inferior to traditional work. Upon reflection, however, I came to realise that I was also guilty of such thinking. While I believed that all methods were aesthetically equal, deep down a part of me did consider skill at traditional tools and techniques to be of a higher "level". Perhaps one day when deadlines and practical concerns are no longer a factor, I'll step out of my comfort zone and see if I can prove myself wrong. Until then, any method that gets the job done is a good method...
Artist: Sam Lay
Diaspora takes place in Basheer, located in the iconic Bras Basah Complex affectionately known as 书城. It is next to the National Library and so it is at the heart of books and reading in Singapore. This selection of cartoons by Sam Lay is a humorous peak at how our relationship with reading and books have changed. But hopefully the joy of reading, browsing and buying books will continue. 

Artist: FsC (Foo swee Chin)
Foo Swee Chin is one of the most sensitive comic artists in Singapore and it reflects in her works. COVID times have necessitated greater usage and dependence on technology. But Swee Chin's comics remind us of the importance of being grounded to love, nature and everyday living. 

Back to Top