Kee – the ink-credible storyteller




Slice of durian life: Kee’s comic strips tell about the stories of daily Malaysian life and current affairs. Sometimes, his comics are political even though he did not plan it that way. ‘Everyone wants to politicise almost everything,’ he said.Slice of durian life: Kee’s comic strips tell about the stories of daily Malaysian life and current affairs. Sometimes, his comics are political even though he did not plan it that way. ‘Everyone wants to politicise almost everything,’ he said.

HIS work often puts a smile on people’s face, but little is known about CW Kee.

And that’s because Kee, who is The Star’s in-house cartoonist, prefers to keep a low profile.

The man behind Kee’s World started his career as an editorial artist in 1981.

Four years later, he introduced a cartoon strip called It’s A Durian Life in Sunday Star.

He had also contributed to The Star’s metro section with a cartoon strip named Food for Thought which became Kee’s World in the national page until today.

Asked about his inspiration for It’s A Durian’s Life, Kee said that contrary to what people might think, durian is not his favourite fruit and certainly not the reason why he named his comic strip that way.

“I do not eat durian because it is expensive. I cannot afford to buy it,” he said, tongue-in-cheek.

Kee explained that he chose the king of fruit as the title of his cartoon strip simply because of the element of surprise often provided by opening a durian.

“When you open one (durian), you will never know what you will get. And that itself would be a surprise for you,” he added.

So he hoped that a reader would not be able to guess what his cartoon would offer.

In that sense, he was ahead of Tom Hank’s character Forrest Gump, known for the line “my mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get” in the 1994 movie.

Speaking of movies, Kee shared that one of the main reasons why he started drawing cartoons was he wanted to have stories with which he is in control.

“In the 80s, there were a lot of movies that I was interested in.

“So, when a movie came out which sometimes had a cliff-hanger ending, I could not wait for its sequel hence I started to draw my own stories,” he said, adding that Indiana Jones was one of his favourite films.

That had also inspired another cartoon strip that attracted quite a big audience back then, which was called the Sungai Way Cat.

These days, he is thankful to his wife for connecting him to the digital world.

“I do not have my own social media account. I want to maintain a low profile.

“So, to make sure I am updated with the latest trend online, I use my wife’s social media accounts,” he said.

But despite technological advancement even in drawings, Kee prefers doing it the manual way, using pens and colour markers.

Kee’s World revolves around the daily activities and current affairs that are relatable to Malaysians.

Since the Covid-19 contagion emerged, he had drawn over 200 comics related to the pandemic.

He could not wait to draw something post-pandemic, he said.

To keep on producing content for his daily comic strips, Kee said he is often paying attention to what is happening around him.

“I always keep my ears open, I listen a lot because people around me may have stories that will inspire me.

“I like to think of myself like a sponge that will absorb almost everything around me and think of stories later on,” said Kee, 61.

He said he never had encountered a creative block, in fact, he was always motivated to continue producing content even after 40 years doing so.

“Deadlines are my main motivation too. By hook or by crook, I need to deliver.

“There is no time to have a creative block,” he chuckled.

Despite having worked for 40 years, Kee said: “I feel like I just started working last week.”

With Star Media Group celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Kee hoped the media company would continue to be the number one news source.

Curious to see more features like this? Visit Starchive (https://50.thestar.com.my/starchive/) on our anniversary website to discover more stories through the decades.

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