Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Remembering the Creator of Old Master Q

Joseph Wong's felt-tip drawing of Old Master Q
I woke up to the news this morning that the creator of Old Master Q, Alfonso Wong, had died in California at the age of 93 of organ failure on January 1.

A giant poster in the courtyard of Comix Home Base
It was very sad news, as I heard he was not in good health for a long time.

For many Old Master Q was the comic strip they read as children, they really liked him, along with characters Big Potato, Mr Chin, Mr Chiu and Miss Chan.

The last three characters contrasted with Old Master Q and Big Potato, who were from a bygone era and helped provide social commentary in a humorous way about how society was changing from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Wong used his son Joseph's Chinese name as a pen name, Wong Chak, and he followed his father in not only learning how to draw Old Master Q and his companions, but also continuing the comic strip a bit longer and later set up a company to retain the copyright of the characters.

Joseph drawing Old Master Q
Last month I was very fortunate to speak to Joseph, 68, and ask him about his father. His memories of him when he was a child was watching Alfonso drawing all the time, and he assumed that all fathers did this.

One time in school the teacher asked each student in the class what their father did, and that's when Joseph realized his father was the only one who drew for a living.

And because his father used Joseph's Chinese name as a pen name, whenever the phone rang for Wong Chak, they had to ask which one.

Joseph explains that Old Master Q is actually his father, that he drew himself into the comics, and the way he acted and interacted with people was very similar to the cartoon character.

It's amazingly coincidental that there is an exhibition of Old Master Q at Comix Home Base, featuring not only archival cartoons, but also local artists reinterpreting the comic strip.

An artist's interpretation of the famous comic book character
The show was supposed to end today, but will be extended until January 5. Hopefully it will be further extended to give people more time to visit and appreciate Alfonso Wong's contribution to Hong Kong culture.

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