Local artist Dr Malai Yunus Malai Yusof hopes his latest comic book Apa Ada Noh? will not only entertain but stir thought into Bruneian tradition and themes of family, materialism and lifelong learning.
Currently a lecturer at Universiti Teknologi Brunei’s Centre for Communication, Teaching and Learning, Dr Malai has published six comic books since 1990, which have sold more than 10,000 copies altogether.
His latest book, launched earlier today at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Gadong, chronicles his early childhood in Kg Ayer as well as his transition from a banker to a mature university student alongside other short stories on Bruneian identity, including materialism and the savings culture within the Sultanate.
“I’ve been using cartoons for almost 30 years now as a way to communicate to the widest audience possible,” said Dr Malai, who has previously drawn for local newspapers. “Cartoons can be powerful in delivering a message and getting us to think about issues. With this latest book, the tone is still humorous but I still wanted to commentate on traditions and offer insight into social behaviors within Brunei.
“There are only a handful of cartoonists in Brunei right now producing stories – but there’s still a demand; so it’s important for us to keep active.”
Like his other books, Apa Ada Noh? is written primarily in the Bruneian-Malay dialect and strives to authentically replicate every day, interpersonal scenarios that would be relatable to Bruneians, with the longer narratives usually ending with a moral message.
Dr Malai, whose academic research has focused on business culture in Brunei, said he is looking into producing English content as well in the future to capture a regional audience. His release last year Ok Tu Noh! received an encouraging response, entering Best Eastern’s best-selling section for several weeks.