Stepping into Popular Bookstore at IOI Mall wasn’t exactly a step into the serene MPH Bangsar Village or Kinokuniya at KLCC. Chinese pop song glared at maximum capacity of the amplifier hurting my hearing sense as the singer reached for the highest notes in the melody. Awang Goneng was true to his form when he said Malaysia is a nation of mega-blasters. I found it disconcerting that the store manager thought that loud music is a source of attraction. I am digressing, please forgive me.
Last Saturday, yours truly was in a desperate need to read something lighthearted after spending the whole weekend drowning my soul in rereading Hugo’s Les Miserable. Gosh, what a sad read that book is. Amidst the sound of screaming children and Chinese pop song dominating the ambiance of the bookstore, my eyes caught sight of Aku Budak Minang – a compilation of local comic series – by Ujang. Ujang, I believe (since I am in no mood to google his artistic background), is Malaysia’s contemporary cartoonist. I remember reading his Aku Budak Minang’s series in Gila-Gila when I was still in primary school. Reading materials were indeed, at that point of time, a rare commodity. If you are born in the mid-seventies like me, you probably have read this gem of a local comic. The series began its debut through a local comic magazine: Gila-Gila. Even though writers are advised to avoid cliche like a plague, I am going to use one to end this paragraph – the rest is history.
Ujang was born in a family stiffed in their beliefs of the famous adat perpateh. He retold the journey of his childhood with amazing dialogues and comical pictures drawn by him. His writing touched my heart when I was a kid. 20 years thereafter, I discover that Ujang still has that magical touch many cartoonists long to have. Ujang undoubtedly wrote his masterpiece – Aku Budak Minang – from the heart.
Amidst his penchant to humor every single unpleasant chapters in his life, he asserts values and traditions like no other cartoonist. I am a fan of Asterix, but Asterix makes me laugh. On the other hand, Ujang makes me laugh and cry at the same time – that is a difficult combination to be found in a comic book. Ujang has it all in this collection – brotherhood, emotion, laughter – of Aku Budak Minang.
If you are sick of your usual read and able to relate to this comic just like me, go ahead and buy one. The comic is retailed at RM35.90. Have a good laugh.
Image stolen from the Jonjenin Site without his permission – of course.