Wed, Jan 04, 2017 - Page 1 News List

‘Old Master Q’ cartoonist Alfonso Wong dies aged 93

LONG LEGACYWong’s comic — popular for more than five decades — drew on his experiences as a student in China where he learned skating and hunting

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

A man looks at a new plaque outside the Taipei office of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association yesterday after its title was changed from the Interchange Association, Japan on Sunday.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

Alfonso Wong (王家禧), known for his Chinese-language comic books Old Master Q (老夫子), died in California on Sunday of multiple organ failure. He was 93.

OMQ ZMedia Ltd (老夫子哈媒體) founder Wong Chak (王澤), who is Wong’s son, announced his death in the US.

Alfonso Wong used the pen name Wong Chak to publish the Old Master Q comic books.

“My life was like a comic book, so I tried to let Old Master Q, which is me, do funny things to entertain readers,” Alfonso Wong said.

Wong Chak, a retired architecture professor from Shih Chien University, continued his father’s comic book legacy by taking over his creative work in 1995.

He said that his father was a artist who was filled with vitality and imagination.

“The Old Master Q that he created is an illustration of everyday life and a wild imagination,” Wong Chak said in a statement published by OMQ ZMedia.

To distinguish between Wong and his son, readers often addressed Alfonso Wong as “Wong Chak Senior” or “Wong Chak the cartoonist.” Wong Chak was often called “Wong Chak Junior” or “Wong Chak the architect.”

Born in Tianjin, China, in 1925, Alfonso Wong relocated to Hong Kong in 1956. Prior to publishing Old Master Q, he used different pen names in newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong while working as an illustrator for a church publication.

OMQ ZMedia said the Old Master Q comic book series was loved by readers of different generations because each character is distinctive.

“Alfonso Wong drew inspiration from his years as a student studying Western art at Fu Jen Catholic University when it was still in Beijing. He was interested in swimming, diving, figure skating and hunting. Because of this he was able to portray these characteristics in his characters when they were playing sports or fishing or sculpting,” the company said.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, Alfonso Wong’s comics took a critical, yet humorous view on the changes facing Hong Kong, including the transfer of sovereignty to China in 1997.

The company said that Alfonso Wong was ambidextrous because of his training as a drummer. When he moved to California, he developed an interest in fishing and pottery, the company said.

Despite the popularity of Old Master Q spanning five decades, critics in China have accused Alfonso Wong of plagiarizing the work of Chinese comic book artist Peng Ti (朋弟), who they said first created characters like Old Master Q and Big Sweet Potato (大番薯) in his comic books.

According to Chinese critics, Ti’s comic books were popular between 1937 and 1943.

He published his first comic titled Old White Potato in 1938.

However, the artist was forced to abandon drawing in the 1950s after being labeled a right-winger by the Chinese Communist Party.

Critics say that Alfonso Wong must have read Ti’s comic books and claimed the characters as his own.

While Alfonso Wong was extremely popular, critics said that Ti was poor and sick until he died alone.

OMQ ZMedia have denied all allegations questioning the originality of Alfonso Wong’s work.

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