Contemporary Art Issues: Malay's Identity in Lat's Cartoon

Topics: Comic strip, Malaysia, Cartoon Pages: 6 (1986 words) Published: January 10, 2011

Definition of cartoon by David Low is: “A cartoon is a drawing, representational/symbolic, that makes a satirical, witty or humorous point,” (Muliyadi: 2008).

Lat has been known for his contribution to Malaysia's art scene and social impact through his cartoons, autobiography comics like The Kampung Boy which are sold all over the world. In this forum, we will see the importance of Lat character and the Malay culture which he bring along in his cartoons. Presented by Dr. Muliyadi Mahamood, Lat’s Malay identity have been reveal and presented as one of the study which is important for Malaysia socio-culture and identity.

Lat born in 5th March 1951 in Kota Bharu, Perak and started contribute in Majallah Filem, April 1964 of his first comic Tiga Sekawan and it being publish until 1966. A huge fan of Raja Hamzah, he started to built an identification of character with Malay identity despite of so many local cartoons are very westernize style which is not suitable with Malaysia's identity.

After so many years, he still uplifts the idea of Malaysia culture and we always looking at Lat as our icon who always bring the Malaysian identity in his cartoons.

Issue Discussed

In this forum we discuss about the identity and cartoons; the definition and how this effect in our culture and sociology does. With Lat's cartoons, he adapt the Malaysian identity in his drawings through the characters relationship, how is their life, activities, games and also including current issues of that time such as socio-culture and political event on that era which can be seen in Keluarga Si Mamat.

Dr. Muliyadi also suggests the early Malay cartoons like Dol Keropok dan Wak Tempeh and Keluarga Mat Jambul by Raja Hamzah which is Lat's favorite cartoonist. The scene of these comic strips is more about Malay culture in modernization era example Keluarga Mat Jambul is about young-new-wed-couple which live in urban city and women being a queen control whereas Mat Jambul would only nod to his wife. This show that socio-economics and culture has occur major transition, and Raja Hamzah capture the problem and translate it into cartoons strip. But the characters still very westernize and this situation gives Lat an idea to create an identity that suitable for Malaysian cartoons characters.

We will also discussing issues on multi-racial, ethnic and socio-culture that Lat put into his every day life comic strip which is very entertaining yet not racist. This is a major success of Lat by using his own interpretation of Malaysian life in his comics and cartoons makes him as a very well known and lovable comic artist in Malaysia.

Focus of Discussion

The focus is more towards Lat’s work which is The Kampung Boy, Keluarga Si Mamat and his Malaysian Scene which is produced in New Straits Time. Lat show the relationship of four characters in Keluarga Si Mamat which is including their life, activities play together. In The Kampung Boy, it's about Lat's childhood life in kampung/village and more towards of Malay culture. Example, superstitious, berkhatan, khatam Quran, weddings, learn to take wudhu' and listen to old folks and respect their words. These are some of the Malay elements that shown clearly in his autobiography as a kampung boy.

The Malaysian Scene is more towards current issues, sometime political and most of it is daily routines which transfer to be a hilarious jokes. Lat never failed to make us laugh. Some of the issues that he brings up are about lack of service in some of government offices, corruption, and Mat Rempit. All of these serious issues become a joke from Lat’s view, his way of express his feeling towards this issue is unique and definitely reflects his idea of humor around everyday life.

Malaysian identity in Lat's cartoon is about multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi- cultural, customs, tradition and harmony. Lat always put kampung visual and style,...

References: 1. Retrieved March 31, 2008 from
2. GregMcElhatton. (30th August 2006). Kampung Boy By Lat. Retrieved March 20, 2008 from
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