SINGAPORE - As more graphic novels are published in Singapore this year, Oh Yong Hwee and Koh Hong Teng have become the country's first comics creators to win a prized international award from Japan.
Their 2012 comic book Ten Sticks And One Rice won a bronze this month in the 7th International Manga Award, said a press release from Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The poignant story of a satay-seller's life is loosely based on Oh's hawker father and published by Epigram Books.
The International Manga Award has been given out annually since 2007 and this year had 256 entries from 53 countries and regions. In total, 15 prizes were awarded, including one gold, three silver and 11 bronze.
Writer Oh, 41, and illustrator Koh, 45, will receive their certificate and token this Sunday from the Embassy of Japan and Japan Creative Centre at Books Kinokuniya's main store at Ngee Ann City. Gold winner Prema Jatukanyaprateep from Thailand, and the four creators from the United States, China, Belgium and Spain who took the three silver awards, received their prizes in Tokyo on Feb 14.
A spokesman for the Japanese embassy in Singapore says the award "honours the manga artists who are contributing to the development of manga culture in the world" and is a notable achievement for any artist, given the number of entries.
No Singaporean has ever won this award, which has been given out to notables such as American comics writer Joe Kelly, who wrote Batman, Superman, Spiderman and X-Men for giants DC Comics and Marvel. He won in 2012 for fantasy story I Kill Giants, illustrated by Spanish artist J.M. Ken Niimura.
The prize is a "pat on the back" for Oh, who was in the Republic of Singapore Navy for nine years and now runs Web design company Patroids Creative Works. "I'm very honoured to have it. I didn't come from a writing background and this award is something that tells me I can continue doing this."