Monday, May 05, 2008

Kampung Boy by Lat

This semi-autobiographical comic shows the main character, Mat, from the time he was born until he left to go to boarding school. Lat shows what it was like to grow up in a tin-mining kampung in Malaysia, from learning Islam from the local Muslim school to his first days in secular school, where he excelled at drawing, but was lousy in Math.

It shows his friendships with the local fisher boys, and his relationships with his mother, father, and siblings. Basically, a boy's account of his own life, giving us a glimpse of a very different life and culture.

The drawing style of Kampung Boy seems a little crude at first, and takes a bit of getting used to, but the artwork is full of expression and insight into the people around the main character, and the character himself.

The story ends on a sad note, with Mat passing the exam to attend boarding school, and realizing, as if for the first time, how much he will miss the village and everyone around him.

I enjoyed this book, which is the work of an artist from Southeast Asia who is already quite famous there. The story is deceptively simple and draws you in, so that you find yourself identifying with the main character. I certainly hope that there will be more of this series published, as I look forward to reading more, and seeing what happens next.

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