Penang artist tells saga of multicultural Malaysia in bid for third Malaysia Book of Records entry

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Penang cartoonist Mohd Azmi Mohd Hussin puts the finishing touches to his 150-metre comic strip for an upcoming exhibition at the Me Sketch Studio in Air Itam November 8, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang cartoonist Mohd Azmi Mohd Hussin puts the finishing touches to his 150-metre comic strip for an upcoming exhibition at the Me Sketch Studio in Air Itam November 8, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Nov 27 — Penang cartoonist Mohd Azmi Mohd Hussin, known for his record-breaking art works, is back to attempt for his third Malaysia Book of Records listing, this time for the longest comic strip in the country.

The 37-year-old has already planned out a long comic strip that will tell the stories of three different Malaysian families as seen from the perspective of a car.

“I chose our national car, the Proton Saga, which is a Malaysian symbol and how it changes hands from a Malay family to an ethnic Indian family and to an ethnic Chinese family,” he said in an interview with Malay Mail.

He said the story will portray the different cultures, customs and practices of each family that revolve around the car, and which will showcase the uniqueness of Malaysia’s multicultural society.

Mohd Azmi at work on his 150-metre comic strip. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Mohd Azmi at work on his 150-metre comic strip. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

The comic strip, which will stretch 150 metres long, is titled Saga Kami. It will be written in Malay and Mohd Azmi started drawing the continuous strip in early November.

“I plan to draw about 10 metres of (the) comic strip each day and I hope to be able to complete the full comic strip of 150 metres by the end of the month,” he said.

The artist has been planning the project for a few years, which was put on hold for the last two due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now that most economic sectors have reopened and he can go back to his studio in Air Itam to restart his art work again, he decided to immediately get this project completed.

Mohd Azmi obtained a RM10,000 grant from Yayayan Hasanah for the project, enabling him to purchase the materials needed, especially the paper that he had to buy in bulk and connect on his own into a 150-metre-long piece of canvas for his comic strip.

Mohd Azmi's comic strip is a story that revolves around three families and a Proton Saga. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Mohd Azmi's comic strip is a story that revolves around three families and a Proton Saga. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Saga Kami will start out with the tale of a young Malay youth who inherits the car from his father and the changes he makes to it before he finally sells it off to upgrade to a new car.

The car then goes to an ethnic Indian family where the driver is a taxi driver and it tells of the rituals he conducts when he first gets the car.

The taxi driver soon sells off the car and it goes to an ethnic Chinese family.

With the car as the narrator of the story, it tells of its experiences under the hands of these different families and the interactions between the people that have sat in it throughout the years.

“I chose to use our Proton Saga as the one common element to tell the stories of our different cultures because back in the 1980s, it was our very first national car and many families of all ethnicities had at one point in their lives owned a Proton Saga,” he said.

He said the Proton Saga is as much a Malaysian personality as the people who have driven and sat in it since it was introduced in the 1980s.

Once Mohd Azmi completes the comic strip, which is a black and white comic of ink on paper, he will submit it to be listed under the Malaysia Book of Records for the longest comic strip in the country.

Mohd Azmi seen in his studio in Air Itam November 8, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Mohd Azmi seen in his studio in Air Itam November 8, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

He had initially planned a 400 metre comic strip for submission to the Guinness Book of Records but scrapped this plan after the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

“Since this is a Malaysian saga, I think it is more fitting for it to be listed in our Malaysia Book of Records,” he said.

Mohd Azmi first made it into the Malaysia Book of Records for the most caricatures drawn in 24 hours back in 2017 when he drew 320 caricatures in 24 hours.

He made it into the Malaysia Book of Records again in 2019 when he painted the longest coffee painting that stretched 101 metres long.

The coffee painting was created using 100 per cent Arabica whole beans from Starbucks and depicted a panoramic view of the Penang skyline with a glimpse of Pitt Street and even Seberang Jaya.

Mohd Azmi also has four comic books under his belt, Tanjong Life, The Little Mamak, The Little Mamak: Lost in Bagan and the latest, Tanjong Life: The New Norm.

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