All it takes is an eye for it: everyday life offers plenty of material that can, with a little effort, produce comic results. For example, a high school dean might criticize a student’s crazy haircut. But what if that hair style is due to his bizarrely shaped head? This is Dick Ng‘s creative philosophy: to draw comics from life, but to make them more outlandish, more absurd. “I usually incorporate aspects of everyday life into my comics, and add in some dry, offbeat humor,” he says.
只要你善于发现，平凡的生活中总有很多有趣的点，这些点稍被加工就会达到意想不到的效果。就比如高中的时候，教导主任总和我们的发型过意不去，但想象一下，如果一位学生夸张的发型和他的头型有直接联系，效果一定让人咋舌，带来猝不及防的幽默感。这就是漫画家吴子元（Dick Ng）的创作哲学 —— 源于生活，但比生活更荒诞、更离奇。“我习惯将日常生活的元素融入到漫画中，并以古怪脱力冷笑话形式表现出来。”
Ng, who hails from Shenzhen, prefers to use his Cantonese last name. (The Mandarin pronunciation would be “Wu.”) He’s loved fantasy comics since he was a kid, and up through college he continued exploring them. “One of my classmates recommended the Japanese manga Fushigiryū, a four-frame comic by the artist Fushigi Sanjuro. Most of it was absurdist humor based on everyday life, and it had a big influence on me.”
Ng keeps an eye out for inspiration at work and during his commute. One of his earlier series of comics offered a humorous yet motivational take on office relationships. “My creative motivation is casual and spur-of-the-moment. Whenever I notice something funny in my life, or in conversations with others, I jot it down right away, and once I have time, I turn it into a drawing.” At first, because of his work schedule, Ng could only draw at night, but after he’d amassed a body of work, he gradually started to get noticed by renowned Chinese comic artists like Tango. That pushed him to quit his job and devoted himself to drawing comics full-time.
吴子元来自广东深圳。英文名字里的 “Ng” 是广东话 “吴” 姓的发音拼写，念 “En”，因为经常有人念错，所以他特别强调这一点。Dick Ng 从小酷爱宫格漫画，大学时期他一直坚持对漫画的研习。“当时同学向我推荐了《千奇百怪》四宫格漫画，这是不思议三十郎的作品。里面大部分无厘头搞笑的内容都来自生活，对我有很大的影响。”
吴子元经常在上班路上与办公室寻找乐趣。在此前他发布过的一系列漫画中，就将办公室严肃的雇佣关系描述得活脱且滑稽。“我的创作动机挺随性和即兴的，生活上或者聊天中的一些让我在意的有趣点子，我就会当下记下来，一旦有空闲时间，我就会画出来。” 而最初因为工作的原因，吴子元只能晚上作画，而随着作品的积累，他逐渐受到来自 Tango 等国内漫画家的赏识，随后便辞去了工作，全身心投入漫画事业。
Sequential graphic art like comics is limited to two-dimensions, but within those constraints anything is possible. And while the frames seem inflexible, they create a space where Ng can find his own path. Readers shouldn’t take his work too seriously, enjoying instead the clever reversals and absurd contrasts. “Usually I dig deeper and deeper in odd observation, adding surprise after surprise. The process is constantly challenging and enlarging my mind.”
You might think Ng would be an oddball in real life, but this isn’t the case. “He’s disappointingly normal,” says one friend. Ng laughs and agrees. “In general I’m an extremely ordinary person—not crazy like my comics.”
尽管你会觉得他是个脑回路奇特的男子，但日常中的吴子元并不是一个无厘头的人，曾经有人说他是一个 “正常到令人失望” 的人，“我平时就是一个非常正常的人，不像漫画里那么疯癫，” 吴子元笑着说道。
So far Ng has published two books: Baoluo Wanxiang (“All-Inclusive”) and Qiquji 1 (“Collection of Oddities 1”). Outside of black-and-white comics, he’s tried his hand at illustration, blending lines and colors to create leisurely real-life scenes. “Illustration is another medium for expression. In addition to colors, illustration lets me add some other interesting details.”
Recently Ng was invited to attend the International Erlangen Comic Salon, and he took his experiences of Western cultural differences and published them in comic form. “A Day in the Life of Ah Ren is about how people in China work overtime and rarely leave the office before their boss, whereas in Germany most working people leave work on time. All You Can Eat is about how Chinese people show their hospitality by ordering a lot of dishes, whereas German people would probably order only as much as you want to eat.” People in each country see their own customs as entirely normal, but taken out of context, they can look ridiculous. This kind of thinking is very common in Ng’s work.
Ng’s comics don’t set out to express any clear-cut concepts, though they do pick up on aspects of life that you might not otherwise give much thought. They’re funny because they’re surprising, and surprisingly familiar. And that’s what makes them timeless: a little absurd humor always lightens up the daily routine.
其实 Dick Ng 的作品并没有明确想要表达的概念，不过它们能帮你拾起生活中不经意的片段，在惊喜与意外之后，留下会心地一笑。同时，他的作品属于任何时代都能看得懂的漫画，因为平凡中的乐趣是生活永不改变的真理。
Contributor: Pete Zhang
English Translation: Allen Young