Burmese Cartoons Celebrate Centenary in Rangoon

By Tin Htet Paing 31 December 2015

RANGOON — An event to mark 100 years of Burmese cartoons kicked off in Rangoon on Wednesday, with a free exhibition at the Myanmar Convention Centre featuring cartoon books, souvenir stalls and demonstrations by prominent local practitioners of the art form.

Chairman of the organizing committee for the two-day event, cartoonist Maung Maung Aung, said the occasion was a rare moment that put local cartoons in the spotlight.

“Cartoons will survive as long as there are people in this world, because cartoons reflect people’s desires and needs,” Maung Maung Aung told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

Despite his optimistic outlook, he acknowledged that cartoon books were at risk of being sidelined in an increasingly digitized culture.

The centenary is marked this year as, in 1915, Shwe Ta Lay (U Bagalay) first published a cartoon for the Rangoon College magazine.

“We hope this event will gather Burmese cartoonists together and create conversations about founding an Association of Burmese Cartoonists,” Maung Maung Aung said.

Cartoonist Poe Zar, the creator of the famous fictional twin sisters Lay Mon and Htwe Mon, said youth today have so many interests that reading cartoons is often not high on the agenda.

“Cartoonists also need to know what kind of medium they should select to attract young readers. For example, online could be a very good medium,” he said.

“But the nature of cartoonists is they prefer sketching on paper rather than drawing for the digitalized medium.”

Young illustrator Edo Vader told The Irrawaddy that the event was an ideal opportunity for the country’s cartoonists to discuss how to take the medium forward.

“The event can raise public interest in these kinds of cartoons which need to be restored, as this is also part of literature,” he said.