Our School Days is a comic that reminisces about, well, our school days. The story takes us back to paper bullets, zero point, television shows and video games that many of us grew up with. Check out the comic here. Today we have a chat with Ho Wan, who is part of the team that produced the comic. We get the low down on what went into producing the comic and the inspiration behind it.
Stephanie Pee (SP): Hi Ho Wan! Tell us a bit about your company and what you do.
Ho Wan (HW): Orgnix Creatives is a mobile, web and graphic design agency. We started as an illustration studio and over the years, we evolved to what we are today. I hold the role of a creative director and business manager in the company.
SP: What was the inspiration behind the story, Our School Days? How much of it was based on personal experience? Are the characters based on people that you know?
HW: Our School Days was inspired from my life as a primary school student in the late eighties. I am amazed with how different school life is now, compared to our school life 25 years ago. Each generation has its own unique childhood experience and I would love to share my generation’s childhood with everyone. That’s why I came up with a light-hearted slice of life story. From the protagonist’s day in school, readers can understand how school life was like and what was popular with students during those days.
The story is entirely based on personal experience and all the characters in the story are inspired by real people I knew and met in my life. Of course, for the purposes of storytelling, certain events were dramatised.
SP: What were the processes that went into producing the comic?
HW: The first thing I did was to jot down all the significant events and things that were unique during that period. For example, the eighties was the beginning of the age of the personal computer. Not everyone had a computer. To play a computer game, a group of players would squeeze right in front of a computer screen. We don’t do that now since almost everyone has a mini-computer in the form of a smart phone right in their pocket.
With this list, I started my research. Things had gotten fuzzy after 25 years, and I wanted to make sure that the computer game, sticker album and cartoon mentioned in the story were released in 1987 and not 1988. To be frank, till now, I’m not quite sure about the MASK sticker album release date because the information I had is limited (haha).
I also looked through all my old school photos as well as my old school yearbook. I have a habit of keeping old stuff like sticker albums, adventure gamebooks, old computer game manuals etc so these things definitely helped a lot in the story writing process.
SP: What do you remember most about your school days? What do you miss most about them?
HW: My classmates, for all the fun and happy times that we shared, as well as the mischief that we created. My teachers too, for all the punishment they gave. It never fails to make me laugh when I remember how our teachers punished us when we did something wrong.
I miss the relationships that we used to share and it is unfortunate that I have lost contact with almost everyone. This explains the ending of the story. It is a reminder that friendship takes effort to nurture. If you don’t, it gets lost over time. With the popularity of social media platforms nowadays, keeping in touch with friends is easy but friendship is more than keeping in touch.
SP: Do you think it is important for the younger generation to know what the experiences of the older generation were like? Why?
HW: Yes, it is an important learning process for us as individuals and as a society. It is the passing of the baton from one generation to the next. The experience of the older generation be it good or bad, can be a good reference for the younger generation to overcome difficulties, avoid unnecessary mistakes or prevent re-inventing the wheel again. Still, everything around us is in a constant state of change and what works for the older generation might not work for the younger generation. Experience is something for us to reflect upon and not copy.
I have to add that the passing of experience has to be a two-way street. It is also important for the older generation to know the experience of the younger generation. We might have heard of someone saying that the younger generation is difficult to understand, rebellious or different from ‘our’ time. But if we look deeper, all of us have been through that young generation stage. No matter what time period we are in, the younger generation will always be difficult to understand, rebellious or different from ‘our’ time in the eyes of the older generation. The younger generation might be untested and limited in their experience, but there are always hidden gems if we take the time to understand them.
SP: Why do you think it is important to capture personal memories?
HW: We can’t deny that memories fade with the passage of time, and this is not necessarily bad or good. Haruki Murakami best put it in his book Kafka on the Shore, “memories are what warm you up from the inside. But they’re also what tear you apart.” We need to let go of unhappy memories and hold onto the ones that are precious. Wonderful memories are treasures that we hold within our heart. It reminds us to cherish everything around us because in the blink of an eye, they too become memories.
But sometimes, even memories that are precious to us can give us a sense of loneliness. This happens when people, buildings and places that exist in our memories start to fade away in the real world. But the sense of loneliness can replaced with a sense of contribution when we start passing down these captured memories on to future generation. I believe contributing gives us a strong sense of purpose and meaning in life. With this, we know that the life we live, the work we do now continue to live on with the future generation.
What do you remember about your school days? What mischief did you and your friends get up to? What horror did you unleash on your teachers — or what terror did your teachers strike in your heart? Share your memories with us here. You can also check us out on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!
Singapore Memory Project