Portsmouth Comic Con’s international initiative for 2022 focused on shining a light on comics and artist hailing from the land of smiles itself, Thailand – specifically Bangkok Thailand.
Our journey began with a sit down interview with comics scholar Nicolas Verstappen, who built his credentials in his home country of Belgium, where he spent many years making comics an area of study before relocating to Bangkok.He had always been interested in teaching, and since he was now on the job hunt he looked for work at local universities. Verstappen’s enormous talent and wealth of knowledge didn’t go unnoticed at Chulalongkorn University where he was offered a position in their prodigious Communication Arts faculty. Now Nicolas Verstappen is the author of “The art of Thai comics: a century of Strips and Stripes”(River Books, 2021), what could be considered the go to written authority on the 9th art in Thailand.
It was with Nicolas Verstappen’s aid that we organised Portsmouth Comic Con’s International Initiative 2022 – an art show that showcases 16 Bangkok based artists across 20 poster sights throughout the city of Portsmouth! To find out more about these artists and the state of the comic industry in Thailand please read below.
We sat down with artist and educator Nirut Chamsuwan to ask him his opinion on the state of comics industry
Ouroborus is a surreal sci-fi fantasy comic that explores the nuance in our sense of self morality and death. Through the journey to regain her life, Nisha, a dead astronaut, invites us to consider the conflict in the meaning we have for ourselves. With the help of a strange human-bird monster, she finds a way that might wake her up from an eternal slumber. However, she first needs to escape the Soul Collector and the impending death she brings.
‘The Ouroboros That Is Life’ is an artwork that represents the core of my comic, which is the struggle between the urge to be immortalized, and the cruel nature of the universe that would inevitably destroy itself. Even the brightest star would expire, what would it say about us?
The comic industry in Thailand is quite small, and I am fairly new to the scene; however I have hope in the new generation that we would be able to bring new and interesting perspective to the world.
I am Vanabud Chaiprakorb but you can call me Lychee for short. I am currently studying in the last term at Commde Chula and aspire to become an illustrator in the near future!
Once city people’s window view is filled with tall architecture and the urbanizing city, the alternative way in order to replicate the relaxation of nature is undeniably a simple poster sticking in front of our working table.
Kai Hua Ror is one of my favorite childhood comics, it inspires a lot of Thai to start drawing. I believe comics could communicate even the hardest and the most controversial topic in the simplest way and easiest to appeal to. As technologies advance forward and people say publication is dying, we are able to finally see the importance of the physical sensation the comics and prints have given us. I am currently working on my senior project about Urbanization and the execution is a graphic novel. Though still in the production process, I would love my novel to empathise with readers while being able to build up my identifiable style of illustration.
Narsid is an illustrator based in Bangkok whose work mainly talks about myth, legends, and religious iconography, utilizing them as a medium to speak about the human psyche.
Miʿrāj (المعراج) is a collage of painted images and motifs inspired by the spiritual journey of the same name by Prophet Muhammad, where he ascended into heaven and received his divine revelation from god. From a more secular perspective, one could interpret that we human beings took a similar journey every night in the form of dreams. Within this realm of slumber, theoretically, is the closest place for us mortal to grasp a glimpse of the divine.
I’m happy to say that I’ve been painting comics and covers or years. Working remotely from Thailand has its challenges versus working from home in Toronto. My experience working on “Neon Black”, and anthologies like “Elseworlds” and “Cauldron Magazine” has definitely improved my sequential work and I’m always looking for more. Currently, I have no big projects in the pipeline but my commission list keeps my paint coursing! Of course, you can see more of my work on Instagram at @paul_limgenco. Thanks for reading up on me!
“Fatal Attractions” Acrylic on Strathmore. Magneto is showing that he’s one of the strongest mutants ever by winning a fight against somebody who doesn’t usually lose, Wolverine. This painting is based on the X-Men story, Fatal Attractions. This painting was a private commission.
“Wolverine in the Outback” Acrylic on Strathmore, In the shadow of a grim, wooden X, Wolverine is about to fight for his life against the Reavers in Australia, where the last remaining X-Men have relocated. This privately commissioned painting is based on X-Men 251, “Fever Dream,” written by Chris Claremont.
Arty is an experienced artist, visual designer and illustrator with a demonstrated history of working in the illustration industry. Graduated from Communication design, Chulalongkorn University. She has a strong passion for illustration, animation and comics. After doing internships and working on illustration projects, she has built an assorted portfolio and is determined to explore more on the visual narrative field.
An experimental comic about the perspective of a gardener who has witnessed death while taking care of their flowers.
Nowadays the comic industry in Thailand is blooming into something intriguing, as there are many young artists who are not afraid to be themselves and eager to explore the visual language. If there happens to be more space for the artists to expose their work to the public aside from the digital world, the comic industry will become more flourishing than ever before.
Sasi Tanyanurak, or Tee in short. A Bangkok-based freelance artist and designer. She makes a few things like books, zines, prints, and such. She enjoys exploring varied fields of creativity. Feel free to go through all her works via her contacts given below.
This is a part from Tee’s illustrations under the concept of Halloween. The artist wanted to try looking for another perspective of Halloween aside from its stereotype. Here, in this artwork, are the witches enjoying the silence and solemnity of the night.
For Tee, her thoughts on the comics industry in her own country are quite not on the bright side. Since the political issues in Thailand are still recurring, causing the relations between the newer and older generations to be on a downside. The society is focused on the country’s war, ignoring the other problems that are out of sight, including the lack of support for young artists. In Thailand, the Arts-related occupations are already been looked down on. With creativity only, a creator can’t reach the point where they can be called successful.
For Tee, she only wishes that things will be more peaceful enough for everyone to enjoy consuming or creating arts, so as comics.
Namsai Khaobor / 1995, Thailand. Namsai studied animation filmmaking in France for two years before pursuing her career as an independent artist and illustrator. She is now making images and telling stories from Chiangmai, her hometown. Her work is inspired by mundanity of life, nature and poetry in many forms.
Excerpt from ‘Darkness and Silence but It’s Pink’, Namsai’s first self-published comic. It is an atmospheric tale of the author’s time during one strange summer in her life. It also touches on youth, homesickness and inner peace.
The comics industry in Thailand is small. Thai society hasn’t paid much attention to the medium or valued it. To me, an artist, making comics is not a career but cherished work that might not be able to pay bills. On the bright side, I now see so many young artists expressing themselves with comics alongside the more established ones that have inspired me to make art. I believe there is a lot of room to hope for the future. Room for fresh perspectives, experiments and persisting aspirations to bring Thai comics to light.
Khwan, an Illustrator, Graphic Designer, Visual storyteller, Game designer, Motion designer, currently studying in Commde, Chulalongkorn, Thailand. She does almost everything in the design field, experimenting with lots of art, at least now she knows that she also likes drawing comics.
“Drawing the Flow” – During your lifetime, to create is to find what inspired you to tell your story.
As a graphic design student and interested in the comics and visual design industry in Thailand, I see a ton of creative art and storytelling that is made by Thai people. However, not many Thai artists are being supported and recognized on a global platform. And some Thai creators fear to tell their stories due to self-censoring, cultural reasons, and other opinions on the work. I used to have the same issue until I saw that we all can write stories that express ourselves to others, that’s the way to make others understand, and comics are also a universal graphic language that connects the reader with the creator.
Nirut Chamsuwan spent his formative years in the United States before establishing Nirut Chamsuwan Studios in Thailand. Based in Bangkok, Nirut freelances as an artist specializing in illustration, graphic design and portraiture, and nurtures a love for comic books and sequential storytelling that has informed his artwork since youth. While studying architecture at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Nirut would often joke that the primary reason for following such a course was to learn how to do backgrounds for comic book panels. World-building and attention to detail have since become integral parts of his artwork. After a long break from sequential art developing curricula and media to facilitate English language instruction in Thailand, Nirut is returning to the medium he loves and is currently illustrating New Camelot, a revival of an Arthurian reimagining with writer Brian Fitzgerald.
“I wanted to present a piece that both showcased variety as well as the various processes involved in the production of comics on the visual side, from pencils to inks to color and so forth. I’d done a number of black and white comics and usually leaned on very bold blacks to balance the absence of color, and black and white line work is pretty much what I specialize in. The color elements are both digital and by hand, and I hope the piece celebrates the myriad of techniques that can be showcased in the unique medium that is comic books. “The artwork featured is mostly from Run, a series I developed as a gateway to English language reading for Thai students, and New Camelot, a new take on Arthurian legend to be released later this year.”
Hirunkorn Nikornsaen also known as Superfah Jellyfish, Fah, and Skye. An illustrator, a tattoo artist, and a graphic designer who loves Guinness and enjoys going to the sports bar. Punk and independent but also wears pink.
painted these 2 illustrations during the start of summer in Thailand. The weather is getting hot and vitamins from fresh fruits are the lifesaver. I wanted to paint an illustration that could reflect summer vibes from my experience. Bold, vibrant, and fun. It’s going to be awesome if these illustrations are exhibited near any fruit cart in Bangkok. Not only art in public but it will become live installation art that the audience can interact with. How cool is that!! The idea about ‘Blessed’ and ‘Cursed’ is so simple. I just feel like I painted one better than the other one. But I still love both of them.
I was born in 1989 and grew up with Japanese manga such as Doraemon, Chibi Maruko, And Crayon shin chan. And these manga inspired Thai people who were born in the late 80s and 90s in many ways. Such as art, fashion, vibes. But I also love reading Thai comics such as ‘Noo Hin’ from Banlue publications. It’s the story of an Isaan girl named Noo Hin. I’ve learned so many things about Isaan culture by reading this comic.
Hello my name is Boris, I named myself Sketchman Boris because I love the energy of sketchy drawings but deep inside it’s also an excuse to not spend too much time on one illustration. For me comics are a democratic medium which gives the author full creative control.
This cartoon is one of the many I post on my instagram account @comicsbyboris, usually every monday.
My goal is to become an independent cartoonist and comic artist as in I want to be able to make a living by telling my own stories and also drawing for other amazing writers. I am working on a lot of projects please check out my website: www.sketchmanboris.com
I love Bangkok, it’s definitely a very good city for artists because it’s cheap. At first I was surprised that there weren’t more artists here.Then, I came to understand that most Artists are solitary creatures and need to be summoned, which is what I am trying to do with my meetups, and our art magazine BKK UNZINE. When it comes to the comic book market, here people are mostly into Manga imported from Japan as they grew up with Anime shows in the mainstream media.
As in many countries comics are wrongly categorized as “katun” a word Thai people’ve used for cartoons therefore thought of as being only for children. But there is an opportunity in my opinion to change that and establish comics as just another storytelling medium, not better or worse than the others, just one with its own strengths that need to be explored and shared with the audience.
I do see people reading WEBTOON webcomics on the skytrain during their commute, so there’s that…
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious” – Albert Einstein
The illustration was inspired by childhood’s hobby which is practicing magic tricks. Since I was a kid, I neither talk much nor enjoy playing sports like others. A simple card vanish trick that I learned from the internet was a communicating key that connects me with others. As I grew up, performing a simple trick and bringing joy and laughter into people around me has been my greatest purpose. I have seen how positively they impact the people I perform for.
“The Stage is Yours” was created to share my magical journey and bring moments of astonishment to the audience.
Comics have always been a crucial part of my life since I was young. The comic section in the bookstore was always my favorite place to visit. I remember growing up reading comics in the newspaper, as well as those $0.15 comic books that were sold in the convenience store. At the time, there were not many choices, varieties, and well-known comic writers or opportunities for people who wanted to create comics. We looked down on those comic writers with the perception that it was a poor-paying job in turn for a lot of sweat and tears.
However, in our time the comic scene has gotten to a much better place. There are many new publishers dedicated to comics and social media is one of the best places for new generation artists to showcase their works. There are more art styles, genres, storytelling techniques, artists and audiences compared to 10 years ago. I believe that Thailand’s comic industry has the potential to rise to the global scale.
Midnight Sun is an artwork made on the phenomenon of Midnight Sun itself. This unusual phenomenon opposes the common sense that the sun is a representation of daytime. Being an embodiment of contradiction, the figure of the character mutates to reveal various textures.
The comic industry in Thailand is evolving from the use of traditional books migrating toward the use of digital material and social media platforms. Still, the mainstream media is still rather unsupported for local creators compared to other media such as video production. But this does not mean that the future of the comic industry in Thailand is dim, as people are starting to engage and support the comic industry more now than ever.
Ployjaploen Paopanlerd (Bamie)
I graduated from the international Program in Communication Design, Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University. I currently work as a freelance illustrator
‘Ignorance’ is inspired by the three wise monkeys which represent the phrase “turning the blind eye”. The way that these girls are helping one another cover their eyes, ear, and mouth shows how people in society often agree to avoid the unpleasant truth.
Recently, my comic “10 things I hate about Maohai” is published by Salmon books, this comic is based on the true story of my evil Basenji dog named Maohai who can cause all kinds of disasters that other ordinary dogs are not capable of.
a freelancer artist and motion graphic editor, who which the peace to the world, therefore no one have to go through trauma anymore.
On the left: It doesn’t have to end this way. On the right: part of my final project, expressing trauma and suffering of school bullying’s victim.
There are a lot of thai artist I know that are talented and should be recognized. Unfortunately most of them are barely gain enough to live if they keep follow they dream. If only people with power in Thailand provide support and encourage art and listen to the citizens…
Supasin Kreecharoen is a multidisciplinary designer based in Bangkok, Thailand. His work is mostly influenced by Thai politics. Supasin is currently working as a graphic designer in Pheu Thai political party.
This artwork is a part of the comic name “Sovereign School”. A fictional webcomic that inspired from the history of Siam in the 1930s. It aims to reflect a lesson from history during the transition period from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. By using a school as a metaphor for a state, in which social class metaphor into a different classroom/program.
In my opinion, the number of comic artists is gaining since the coming of the webcomic and other online platforms where an artist can produce their work to the public with much less cost and production time. The size of the market and platform that is gaining up also affected the variety of comic genres. Some of the genre which was in a niche market like boy’s love or girl’s love become more visible to the mass audience and gained more social acceptance.
I am Jeen ,a graphic design student who is currently studying in the last term at Commde, Chulalongkorn. I mostly express my works through the black and white illustrations.
‘After sleeping’ is the condition of the narcoleptic people after they have stepped into the sleep state. It expresses the visual of the feeling, which most patients face every time they lie down in their bed. This illustration gets inspired from the personal narcoleptic patients’ interview, ‘Sinking into the water’, which is the visual they gave.
I have grown up with the comic since it has been famous in the form of publication. In my opinion, the comic industry is a part of Thai people. We have grown up with them and they have influenced Thai children’s perspective. Nowadays there are more spaces to express their works, so it builds up many new artists. However it still gets less value from the perspective that comics are for children, people still consume with the mass styles in the society. I wish most people would give the acceptance for more diversity in the future.