IPOH, Dec 25: Malaysia’s beloved Royal Artist, Datuk Lat, was the proud recipient of the Cai Zhizhong Comic Prize at the 3rd Cai Zhizhong Comic Prize award ceremony held in Guangzhou, China, last Friday.
The 72-year-old Lat, whose real name is Mohd Nor Khalid, said he was proud to be recognised by the awards committee which comprised several renowned artists from numerous branches of art in China.
“I was proud to represent our country. And also the ties between China and Malaysia are currently strong, mostly in the business sector,” he said.
Lat said his comic books and cartoons have had a wide audience overseas, including China, since the 1970s.
He also confirmed that he was the sole foreign participant at the award ceremony this time and was also invited to be on the next selection committee, but turned it down because he was taking it slow due to his age.
Lat said he was thrilled to speak to China’s internationally renowned cartoonist Cai Zhizhong, best known for his graphical works on Chinese philosophy and history.
He said, Cai, who personally presented the award, was a fan of his from the 70s itself.
“I sat next to Cai throughout the award ceremony and he told me, “You are my hero”. If I am not mistaken he started reading my comics in the 70s and 80s.
“He said he liked my work because I drew about life in a multi-racial society. That is the difference between me and others. I made Kampung Boy about a Malay person but when I created Town Boy it included all the other races,” he said.
Lat said he also exchanged his collection of Kampung Boy, Town Boy, and other cartoons with Cai’s works.
Lat said Cai’s comic books are based on ancient tales, folklore, and legendary stories turned into the form of Chinese philosophical messages.
“His books are simple but they convey messages. Cai is famous for that,” he said.
Lat also shared the invitation letter from the Cai Zhizhong Comic Prize Organising Committee, which stated that they are well-versed in his unique artistic style that has attracted millions of readers globally, including China.
“We are happy to announce that the committee decided to present the Award of Cai Zhizhong Prize to you, after full assessment and evaluation by the Experts Committee.
“We sincerely hope this prize would be an expression of our highest appreciation for your great achievements and devotion to the comic industry,” according to the letter.