|Old Master Q and his sidekick Big Potato on the bus|
Old Master Q (老夫子) is a Hong Kong icon. The cartoon character was created by Alfonso Wong and Old Master Q first started appearing in newspapers in 1962. He has a sidekick, Big Potato along with other characters, Mr Chin, Mr Chiu and Miss Chan.
Mostly it's about Old Master Q and Big Potato who observe the social and political changes happening around them and usually have a comic twist to them. Wong says Old Master Q is like Lu Xun's Ah Q today.
The two of them wear clothing from the Ming Dynasty that Wong says gentlemen used to wear. And as they wear traditional clothing not only do they stand out but it helps create hilarious situations for them to be in especially in modern times.
Wong is still around, though his son Wong Chak runs the business creating products around the cartoon characters in Taiwan. You can read some of the old comics here.
And so it's nice to see the Hong Kong connection is still strong with Old Master Q and Big Potato featured in a series of public health announcements on the bus.
Here's one about coughing, and there are others about talking too loudly on the bus or giving up seats for the elderly, disabled or pregnant.
While it's strange that Hong Kong turns to cute cartoon characters to convey serious social messages, the ones with Old Master Q and Big Potato seem very appropriate since they are supposed to represent the average Hong Konger.
Hope Old Master Q will be around for a while -- we need him more than ever to reflect on who we are and where Hong Kong is going.