Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Comics drawn from life by the fastest pencil in town



Comics drawn from life by the fastest pencil in town

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
John Weeks enjoys capturing amusing everyday moments. Photo supplied

Comics drawn from life by the fastest pencil in town

When cartoonist John Weeks speaks, it’s almost stream of consciousness – one idea has barely tumbled out of his mouth before the next is on his lips. And he draws comics the same way.

During lunch this week at Street 240’s Artillery Cafe – where an exhibition of his QuickDraw strips will go on display on Wednesday – the American hardly touched his hummus platter as he jumped from topic to topic, with comics the common theme: from drawing tools (“I’ve got no excuse not to draw if I have a pen”) to publishing (“I love physical comics but they’re so expensive”) to motivations (“It’s venting … I just want to get stuff out there”).

Weeks began QuickDraw as a photocopied comic “zine” back in the States in 1995.

It was as an experiment in trying to get his comic ideas down as quickly as possible.

The average time he takes now is about an hour, but it only takes him 25 minutes to jot down a strip about being a “talker eater” during lunch. 

In 2011, he committed to drawing a comic every day but has eased off the pace a bit since and now does a few a week, which are added to his QuickDraw online comic website.

“I time my strips so that I can create them as fast as humanly possible – because the next idea is around the corner,” said Weeks, who is one of the founders of Our Books, a local NGO that focuses on the development of comic art in Cambodia.

The strips have featured in international shows, and in exhibitions at the Chaktomuk Theatre and Java Cafe.

In 2010, Weeks published a selection in a physical compilation to celebrate his first decade in Cambodia.

The QuickDraw exhibition opening this week will feature about 15 of the strips – most having already featured on the website – drawn since 2011.

They’re generally musings on everyday existence, and not necessarily gag-based, touching on anything from tuk-tuk politics, to relationships, to the downfalls of being a freelance worker.

“[I’m] aiming to share ‘quotidian Cambodia’ moments that both ‘barangs’ and Cambodians can recognise,” he said.

Weeks enjoys pushing the boundaries of comic art: for example photographing a cardboard cutout character named Weeksita (little Weeks in Spanish) in real-life settings and turning the images into strips with speech bubbles.

In a similar way, he said the exhibition was about introducing comics to people in a different setting.

“This exhibition will be more loose and fun than normal­­ - playing with the definition of what’s gallery worthy.”

The Kingdom of ‘I Wonder’ is opening 6pm on Wednesday at Artillery Cafe, Street 240 ½.

MOST VIEWED

  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • SOPs steer ‘new normal’ tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism has introduced a set of minimum standard operating procedures (SOP) for four major classes of tourism businesses, which is geared towards the “new normal” of the industry. These SOPs are tailored to support businesses in their daily activities and enable them

  • Sleepless in sin city – Will half-sized, outlawed online gambling sector persist below the surface in Cambodia?

    Chinese authorities are coming down hard on online gambling. Similar events are starting to happen in Cambodia, raising questions as to how all of this will end It is 1:30pm, Sotheary (not her real name) is sitting on the wooden floor of her house, facing

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • International air visitor arrivals dip 93%

    The number of foreign tourists entering Cambodia through the Kingdom’s three international airports witnessed a sharp 92.5 per cent year-on-year decline in the first seven months of this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism. The airports handled 51,729 international tourists in the January-July period versus

  • School reopening ‘offers model for other sectors’

    World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said school reopening process should be used as a role model for reopening other sectors currently mothballed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Li strongly supports the government’s decision to reopen schools, saying it is a decision