Singapore – Copies of Sonny Liew’s graphic novel The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye have been flying off the shelves ever since his hat-trick win at the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards last Friday.
The Eisners are the comic industry’s equivalent of the Oscars. Liew, 42, is the first Singaporean to win the award.
Mr Kenny Chan, the Singapore store manager of Kinokuniya says that sales of the graphic novel have “gone up considerably” since the awards. To date, the bookstore has sold more than 5,000 copies and Mr Chan expects sales to remain strong.
“Now that it has won three recognisable international, mainstream awards, I think more people will sit up and recognise that The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is really a remarkable literary work worthy of their attention,” he says.
At Popular Bookstores, sales of the book have increased by three times since the win, while MPH Bookstores has placed new orders for it as nearly all of its stock has been wiped out; it has sold close to 700 copies to date.
“It was selling very well after its launch but interest dwindled after a while, until this week, when we saw many new customers come in to enquire about it,” says Mr Matthias Low, merchandising manager at MPH Bookstores.
The book was first published in 2015 by Singapore publisher Epigram Books. Overseas, it is published by American imprint Pantheon.
Next month, Liew will also be part of a theatre piece titled Becoming Graphic, commissioned by the Singapore International Festival of Arts (Sifa).
Even before his win, two extra shows had been added due to “overwhelming demand”, says Sifa. The new shows are on Aug 19, 3pm and Aug 20, 8pm, but the Aug 19 show is already sold out. The original four shows running from Aug 17 to 20 are also sold out.
A graphic novel created for the stage, Becoming Graphic explores issues such as ageing and mortality using the superhero genre.
As part of the 90-minute show, Liew will create live illustrations which will be filmed and projected onstage. The work is a collaboration between Liew and theatremaker Edith Podesta.
Sifa director Ong Keng Sen said in a statement: “It is heart-warming to see such positive responses to Becoming Graphic, which explores the issues of greying societies. This serves as testament to not only the growing appreciation of adventurous arts here in Singapore, but also a shared desire to stay connected to issues, to believe, and to engage.”