During the interview, Chun Man’s Matthew Fong said that even though there’s been a big push to promote cultural and creative industries in Macao in recent years, it still isn’t taken seriously by the public. “It’s like a vicious cycle now. It’s not hard to find a job with a high salary in Macao. Cultural and creative jobs don’t pay as well as most jobs on the market, so no young people are willing to enter the industry or study related subjects. That makes Macao people less competitive with people in neighbouring places,” he said. He compares cultural and creative industries in Macao to disabled athletes—no matter how hard they try, they can’t be healthy athletes.
But is this accurate? Even though the future for animation and comics is uncertain, there are still many people willing to enter the industry. One example is local comic artist Ki Leong, who is behind the comic C-La in Macau and said he wants to work in the industry full time.
C-La in Macau is an adorable depiction of a Macao housewife and average family life in Macao. Its satire is loved by readers in Macao. Creator Leong is a fourth-year graphic design student at the Macao Polytechnic Institute. “A lot of people think C-La in Macau’s creator is a housewife, but sorry, it’s not,” he said.
At first, Leong opened a personal page on Facebook solely for fun, hoping to use it as a platform to share his work with others, never thinking he would make a name for himself in the comic world.
The page now has over 3,000 fans in almost two years. Leong recently turned C-La in Macau into short animations, and has won the Jury’s Commendation Award (Animation) at the Macao International Film and Video Festival in 2015. He thinks that comics alone are hard to get people’s attention, and animation is more attractive, so using both platforms for C-La in Macau is effective in attracting more readers.
However, Leong also said that the future is murky for comics in Macao because the reader base is still small and the industry has no scale. But he insists he will work full time as a comic artist after graduating. “I just want to concentrate on C-La in Macau right now and prepare to be a comic artist full time. I’ll tell myself that I can’t turn back and hope to make the best out of what I can. On the other hand, because the market is so small now, I can enjoy the first-mover advantage if I’m successful and open up the comic market. There could be hope then,” he said.
But even if C-La in Macau has brought fame to Leong, it hasn’t brought in much in the way of actual financial gain. He has won awards and cash prizes, but that hasn’t helped to develop his career in a practical way, for example giving him the chance to publish his comics. Even so, Leong said he’s willing to be a pioneer in the industry. “Macao doesn’t have a representative comic work, so I hope people can get to know about local comics through me and C-La in Macau,” he says. “As long as we raise people’s awareness of local comics then we can start developing related items such as toys and other trinkets and open up more commercial opportunities for comic artists.”