Monday, May 31, 2010

Eber vs Cheeseman

The Free Press, 3 Feb 1947.

John Eber of the Malayan Democratic Union and Council of Joint Action gave a speech in KL on 26 Jan 1947. The Council of Joint Action called for a boycott of the Cheeseman Consultative Committee on the constitutional proposals for the setting up of the Federation of Malaya. The Cheeseman Consultative Committee was set up by Sir Edward Gent.

The Straits Times opposed the call for the boycott, but reprinted Eber's speech in its 30 Jan 1947 edition.

During this time, Cheeseman and his committee visited the various territories in Malaya to get views on the constitutional proposals. They visited Penang on 11 and 12 Feb.

Cheeseman was Director of Education of Malaya.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

1947: "Year of Strikes"

The Free Press, 29 Jan 1947, Wed.

The Municipal strike of 1947 which left Singapore in a stink. Rayman is the the President of the Municipal Commissioners. The Malayan Democratic Union tried to mediate.
The Straits Times, 17 Feb 1947.
The Straits Times, 8 July 1947.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


19 Jan 1947, Sunday.

A cute one.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Back Pay

The Free Press, 18 Jan 1947, Sat.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Female Teachers

16 Jan 1947.

Another one about teaching. Believe it or not, to retain female teachers (the bulk of the teaching force then), they were 'advise' not to get married. The fear was that once they settled down, they will have children and resign from teaching.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New Education Plan

31 Dec 1946.

That's it. 28 cartoons in all for the year 1946, his most prolific year.

Tomorrow we start 1947.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bad Signal

I love the rantings of Warren Ellis. Got the 2 earlier volumes of From The Desk Of and just discovered Bad Signal I and II at Prologue. So I came to this late but Ellis' insights about comics and culture still pack a punch. He talks about the writing of Global Frequency #1 and I bought that way back in 2002 and that's how long ago these emails were. Yes, these are a collection of emails that Ellis sent to his mailing groups. Good archival writings about the state of the affairs in 2001 and 2002 such as the near bankruptcy of Top Shelf and how fans and the alternative comics industry rally around them.

Ellis' view of how writing should be:

"But that's what's needed. People who scream and dance and have weird obsessions and who kiss people at night and pass out during the day and can write about that and make you feel it and want it."

That's good pop writing.

Now got to track down Come In Alone (2002) and Do Anything (2010).

Put out to sea

30 Dec 1946.

The Brooke Family, the White Rajas of Sarawak.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Car Woes!

26 Dec 1946.

Some things don't change.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

SHB Docker

The harbour strike still going on as of Christmas Eve of 1946. Not quite sure where Kwan stood on this. Most of his other cartoons were critical of the British, but the satirical elements at work here are targeted at the strikers - drunken and foolish, and detrimental to the economic recovery of Singapore after the war? See this other cartoon.

24 Dec 1946

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Invincible Gene Colan

Finally got my copy of this Marvel book. Not so much a collection of Gene's stories (THAT is something Marvel needs to rectify immediately) but a series of loving tributes and generous samples of artwork and covers.

Gene Colan's art can be considered as old school but you can feel the sense of movement in his fluid lines, especially those early issues of Daredevil, which set the gold standard for all to come, including Frank Miller. I remember reading those early DD stories in black and white in the early 80s UK reprints, which actually enhanced one's appreciation of Gene's use of light and shadows.

He was supposed to turn up for the 2008 San Diego Comicon, which I attended. But he missed it because of health issues. I got a signed print of this instead.

Black Market Again

The Free Press, 21 Dec 1946.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Things To Come

The Free Press, 14 Dec 1946
The Free Press, 16 Dec 1946

More Nelson-Jones and income tax.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Goh Keng Swee

A cartoon from The Straits Times, 4 June 1960 to remember Dr Goh by. He passed away last Friday.

Services Club

The Free Press, 12 Dec 1946.

Of interest to those looking at education history in Singapore.

All You Need Is Love

American superhero comics have been criticized for catering to male adolescent fantasies. But there are female writers for comics, aren’t there? Jodi Picoult and Gail Simone have written for Wonder Woman. Surely the must bring to the comics a feminine touch.

I just read Janes In Love, of the ill-fated Minx imprint of DC comics; and now I know what are female adolescent fantasies in comics. In Janes, the lead characters are plagued mainly with social and psychological problems. No problems are solved with fists. The comic emphasizes the importance of passion and friendship, as well as how “with a little help from my friends”, difficulties can be overcome. Even so, the story maintains western individualism, which is something I believe local comics tend to be short of when imitating American comics. After all, we are a collective society.

So there you have it; female adolescent fantasies in American comics. And I feel that the industry needs more of this, sides Shoujo and Bishoujo manga.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


The 1942 classic on okto now. The first time I watch this was when I attended Robert McKee's Story Seminar held at NUS in Jan 2003. It was a stirring analysis of the film that closed the seminar, of how form and content ties everything together, of the elements that make a great story.

2003 - that's a lifetime ago.

All this and Heaven too?

The Free Press, 10 Dec 1946.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pyke Allowance

The Free Press, 9 Dec 1946.

'Sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander.'

Mr. C. J. Pyke is the Economic Adviser to the Malayan Union and Singapore Governments.

Friday, May 14, 2010

To Peace

The Free Press, 7 Dec 1946.

Reminds me of this David Low (1891 - 1963) cartoon about the League of Nations. From The Star, 16 Dec 1920.

The Chauffeur said, "None of these hill-climbing stunt for us! We take the good old road we know."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Iron Man

Iron Man 2 is doing well at the box office. The best Iron Man comics to read are those from the Ultimate line. Here're 2 recommendations:

Ultimate Iron Man Vol 1 by Orson Scott Card
Ultimate Human by Warren Ellis

Ellis is really the ideas man in mainstream comics now. His frequent appearance in DC or Marvel Comics add vitality to their line. Whether it is his revamp of Marvel's New Universe or Thunderbolts, Ellis never fails to deliver. (his earlier take on Iron Man, 2005's Extremis is good too)

For fans of Queen and Country, Ultimate Human has an entire tribute issue to that.


Maybe it's because I've been teaching about the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 that got me thinking about the comics that reference the 'illegal' war. Way before The Hurt Locker and The Green Zone, comics have come out strongly against the invasion - see The Ultimates 2 (Mark Millar) and Secret War (Brian Michael Bendis), both of which were released in 2004.

As a result of the Ultimates' intrusion in the Middle East, public opinion turned against them. And in Secret War, Nick Fury assembled a covert team of Marvel heroes to devastate a country whose terrorist activities threatened America. One year later, the actions of their 'secret war' returned to haunt them. The war came home. (of course, the politics in such mainstream comics is hazy at best. One is not quite sure where Bendis actually stand with regards to the Iraq invasion. Nick Fury is still the 'hero' at the end of the story and his actions were deemed justified, although he had to go underground to escape.)

One more reference and an obvious one - Naoki Urasawa's Pluto, a reworking of the classic Astro Boy story, 'The Greatest Robot on Earth'. The series started in 2003 but by 2004, we had the appearance of a disposed 'dictator' who looked just like Saddam Hussein. Needless to say, the protagonists were punished for invading this country.

Urasawa also did the excellent 20th Century Boys.

Victoria Theatre

The Free press, 5 Dec 1946.

Timely as it was reported yesterday that Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall will come under the management of the Esplanade after its renovation.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


3 Dec 1946.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


The Free Press, 30 Nov 1946.

Shifting focus from rice to rubber.

Monday, May 10, 2010

'For better or for worse'

26 Nov 1946.

2nd appearance of Nelson-Jones and income tax. 1st one here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

John L Lewis and the United Mine Workers' Strike of 1946

25 Nov 1946.

Kwan was updated on American politics. Wonder why he was so concerned about the UMW strikes unless he saw a parallel between what's happening there and in Singapore.

Quite a bit of info on John L Lewis on the net:

Videos too:

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Republican victory

The Free Press, 23 Nov 1946.

Context for this cartoon.,_1946

This and the next one dealt with the US strikes of 1946 and its fallout.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Black Market

The Free Press, 20 Nov 1946, Wednesday.

There is an earlier entry discussing the black market situation in 1946. Even back in 1945, it was bad.

The Malayan Tribune, 16 Nov 1945. By the famed MT cartoonist, Yan Kee Leong. (thanks to Loh Kah Seng for the cartoon)

The Malayan Tribune, being an anti-colonial paper, had the best cartoons in town - biting, satirical and drawing blood with each stroke of the pen. Here are the cartoons commissioned by The Malaya Tribune for the first anniversary of the arrival of the British after the Japanese surrender, 5 September 1946. All compare 1946 to the Japanese Occupation. There is a touch of irony calling them ‘Liberation Day Cartoons’. They deal with the black market situation as well.

The first one appeared on the front page.

These cartoons appeared in the 5 Sept 1946 edition of The Malayan Tribune. Kwan did not draw any cartoons about Liberation Day during that first week of Sept 1946, boycotting the fact altogether. Instead he focused on the rice shortage issue and targeted Killearn.

All these explain why the British colonial administration complained about the small turn out to mark the first anniversary of the end of the Japanese Occupation. The rice shortage situation was very serious. No one was in the mood to celebrate anything. In fact, things seem to be worse than under the Japanese!

Thanks to Kevin Blackburn for the info and cartoons.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

People's Restaurant

18 Nov 1946.

Compare this with Choo Keng Kwang's woodcut of the same name.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dock Strike

13 Nov 1946, Wednesday.

Reported in The Straits Times, 11 Nov 1946, "Little hope of end of strike today." Front page news.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Income Tax

The Straits Times, 12 Nov 1946, Tuesday.

Reported in The Straits Times just the day before, 'How Taxes Have Been Raises in Singapore.' In the same 11 Nov 1946 edition, it was suggested in the article, 'Rubber Export and Income Tax' that the reduction in the Malayan rubber export tax would mean the collection of income tax.

This has never been popular in Singapore history. Lim Boon Keng had tried to get the British government to ban opium smoking before WWI. To make up for the loss of revenue from opium taxes, a law on taxing income was proposed. However, many members of the Legislative Council opposed it as it would affect their income.

It is interesting that this cartoon has representatives of the Chinese and Malay communitites to express their views about income tax.

Kino Bestsellers April 2010











Monday, May 3, 2010

More Rice Issues

The Free Press, 9 Nov 1946.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The civil service

The Straits Times, 6 Nov 1946, Wednesday.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Wallace, Truman and Stalin

23 Sept 1946, Monday.

Kwan was concerned about international politics too. The Potsdam Conference of 1945 had divided Europe into two spheres of influence under the Allied forces and the Soviets. But the honeymoon was soon over, although former US Vice-President and then Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace had made a speech on 12 Sept 1946 about how the US should be friendlier to Stalin. He was forced to resign as Secretary of Commerce on 20 Sept, by the time this cartoon appeared.

More details here.

Having survived WWII and the Japanese Occupation, it must be scary for Kwan to see the world plunging into a new Cold War. Especially when you are 26, married and wondering what the hell is going on with the world.

For those of us who study postwar Singapore history, certain years are significant - 1959, 1961, 1963, 1965 and so on. But imposing that on world history, while we are concerned about the Merger Referendum of 1962, let's not forget that the Cuban Missile Crisis happened that year as well. How did people in Singapore feel about that, the world on the verge of WWIII?

Jack Kirby Lives On..

Black Widow

Definitely inspired by George Perez's styling of the widow.