Do you remember your driving lessons, your sometime-quirky instructor and stoic examiner? The disappointment of having failed and the elation of obtaining your licence (but now having to duke it out with your siblings over the use of the family car)? Check out Andrew Tan’s (also known as drewscape) comic (it’s free!), Moving Forward, about driving lessons, growing up and, well, moving forward. To find out more about the comic and what went into it, check out our interview with Andrew below!
Stephanie Pee (SP): Hi Andrew! Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Andrew Tan (AT): I’m a freelance illustrator. I illustrate for advertising agencies as well as magazines. On the side, I love creating my own comics as well as hunting for new art tools to draw with.
SP: What was the inspiration behind the comic? Where else do you get your inspiration from?
AT: When I was deciding on a story to write, I tried to recall all the interesting experiences I’d gone through. There was army life, my dating experiences, the time I pulled my wisdom teeth out, life at workplace, etc. All of these contain little stories I’d enjoy sharing and swopping with friends whenever the topic came up. Eventually, I chose to tell my driving experience because it contained some rather interesting characters and it was also a turning point in my life. Plus, driving lessons are something that most Singaporeans can relate with. My other source of inspiration come from reading manga, European comics, and some American indie comics.
AT: First I decide on the story I want to tell. Then I try to sit down for long stretches and write/draw the comic very loosely on rough A4 paper. I use a pencil at this stage. I try to write/draw exactly how I would tell the story verbally and casually. After I’m done with all that, I look through the whole story again and see if there are parts I can tighten and rearrange so I can make the story simpler and stronger. The simpler the story, the stronger it will be. Because I use a pencil, erasing and adjusting is relatively easy. This takes the longest time though because I have to make sure the story is strong. If the story isn’t strong, the comic will be bad no matter how well I draw it. When all that is settled, I neaten all my pencil drawings. Then I use a light box, and I trace the pencil lines using a pen (in this case, it was a hero pen with a curved nib) on fresh sheets of paper. I scan all these new sheets into computer, tidy up any stray lines or dirt marks, and colour the entire comic using photoshop. Then, I type in all the text using a handwriting font I created myself. Lastly, I check the comic over and over again for any small errors. I also make any text edits at this stage. Then it’s done! Whew!
SP: Whew indeed! So, what did driving lessons teach you (besides how to drive)?
AT: It taught me perseverance and not to give up hope too soon.
I think so. I think most Singaporeans would know what it’s like to chat with an “uncle” driving instructor while taking lessons, or feel horribly nervous before a driving test or know how it feels after failing a driving exam. Though, perhaps only a few will relate to having failed four times before passing.
SP: What do you hope readers will gain from reading the story?
AT: I hope that it sparks memories about their own driving lesson experiences and they can share them too. I also hope that it might encourage those who are still failing their driving exams after repeated attempts to keep at it!
AT: We can learn how others handle similar problems. We can also appreciate and enjoy how others who are not like us live their lives. We can also appreciate the modern day conveniences more or perhaps inspire us to bring back what we might have lost.
Andrew’s new graphic novel, Monsters, Miracles and Mayonnaise (published by Epigram Books), will be launched on 17 November, 2012 at Crossroads, Kinokuniya Main Store (@ Takashimaya) from 4 to 5 pm. For more on the event, see here. Monsters, Miracles & Mayonnaise is a collection of short comic stories where tales of unexpected encounters with strange beings from another world sit alongside amusing anecdotes based on bewildering real-life encounters and childhood memories. Do go down if you can to check out Andrew’s new book and to say hello! To see more of Andrew’s work, you can visit his website here.
Was learning to drive a milestone in your life? Did you identify with Andrew’s story? Why not share your experiences with us and join in the conversation here. You can also check us out on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
Singapore Memory Project