Life is shitty.
At least that’s what Kien seems to be convinced of. Working full-time as an advertising creative in Shanghai, the Malaysia-born artist has developed a rather cynical worldview in recent years. But it’s a cynicism that he wields to imaginative means, channeling it into short comics and illustrations that highlight the humor within life’s “shittiness.” With unflinching sarcasm, snarky punchlines, and an astute eye for the quirks of life, Kien has published a kooky body of work under the Instagram handle @thegrumpyoldman_kien.
至少 Kien 是这么想的。近年来，Kien 对世界越来越怀疑和失望，他把这种态度诉诸于自己的创意表达中，通过简短的漫画和插图，讲述糟糕的生活中那些令人啼笑皆非的事情。Kien 把这些风格怪奇的作品发布在自己的 Instagram 帐号 @thegrumpyoldman_kien 上，在作品中展现出赤裸裸的讽刺、尖锐的笑点以及他对生活的敏锐观察。
Kien’s love of comics began with Western comic classics The Far Side and Calvin & Hobbes. Their clever storytelling stuck with him well into adulthood, ingraining in his psyche the belief that a strong narrative should come above all else. As a result, his comics favor a pared-down art style that solely features simple linework done in black and white. “It’s the most natural and transparent way to see life,” he explains. “Without paying too much attention to how to make it beautiful, the focus is placed on the stories and meanings. Though, there’s also a sense of beauty in simplicity. Simplicity is real and raw. In fact, I believe life should be simple.”
Kien 对漫画的热爱源于两部经典西方漫画作品《The Far Side》和《卡尔文与跳跳虎》（Calvin & Hobbes）。这两部漫画作品的巧妙叙事令他记忆犹深，也让他相信，强有力的叙事应该高于一切，因而他的漫画总是倾向于极简的艺术风格，以简洁的黑白线条描绘。他解释说：“这是表达生活最自然、最透明的方式。无需过份在意呈现美丽的画面，而是将重点放在叙事和故事的意义上。但简洁本身其实也不失为一种美感，更真实和原始。事实上，我认为生活就应该简简单单。 ”
Similar to Gary Larson or Bill Watterson, Kien isn’t shy in poking fun at a broad range of topics, though there are specific subject matters that seem nearer to his heart. Love, work, and the vapidity of modern life are perhaps some of the most frequent themes tackled in his comics. “I didn’t intend on working with these subjects on purpose,” he notes. “My intention was to tell stories about life, but love and work seem to be the biggest parts of life, at least for the people around me.”
和这两部经典漫画的作者 Gary Larson 和 Bill Watterson 一样，Kien 在作品中讲述着形形式式的故事，但当中最常见的几个主题分别是爱情、工作和乏味的现代生活，这应该也是他内心最关心的主题。他解释说：“我其实没有刻意创作这些主题，我只是想讲述生活里的故事，但爱情和工作似乎就是生活中最重要的部分，至少对于我身边的人而言是如此。”
In a comic titled Love, Kien’s signature character—which he’s purposefully designed to be nothing more than a spruced-up stick figure—discovers a heart-shaped hole in a white limbo. He crawls in, only to discover an identical vast nothingness awaiting on the other side. “When it comes to love, people’s expectations are too high,” Kien laughs. “All I can say is, good luck to them.”
In Overtime, a ravenous vampire awaits his next victim outside an office building. But it appears he’s miscalculated—he waits and waits, but by the time the next employee leaves, the sun has already come up, melting the creature into a puddle. The message is clear: modern work culture is perhaps the scariest monster of all.
在 Kien 的漫画《Love》中，他笔下的主角在白茫茫的空间中发现了一个心形的洞。他爬进去后，却发现另一边只是同样巨大虚无的一片白色。Kien 笑着说：“在爱情方面，人们总是会期望过高，我只能祝他们自求多福了。”
Technological codependence and our disconnection with one another is also a matter that Kien frequently prods at. “People are getting more selfish instead of being more together,” Kien says. “There’s a lot more discontent and distrust among people.”
In Miss You, a boyfriend tells his girlfriend that she’s always on his mind. While he’s mostly there in the first frame, physically speaking, his head has completely slithered out of view. His elongated neck takes over the next three frames—passing through windows and clambering up a flight of stairs—until it’s revealed where his head is really at: in the living room with his video-game console.
Despite his disillusionment with our modern lifestyles, Kien has ultimately found peace with the things that are out of his control. For all the “shittiness” that he can’t change, he’s found cracking a joke and letting people laugh at it may be the best band-aid fix “It’s an imperfect world,” he shrugs. “But if you can laugh, accept, and make fun of the imperfections, life can become that much more interesting.”
对科技的依赖以及人们彼此之间的疏离也是 Kien 经常探讨的问题。Kien 说：“人们变得越来越自私，而不是更加团结，人们之间的不满越来越多，相互的信任也越来越少。”
尽管 Kien 对现代生活感到失望，但他最终还是接受了自己无法控制的事实。对于无法改变的“糟糕之事”，也许开个玩笑，和大家一起笑笑，就是最好的安慰。 说：“这是一个不完美的世界。但是，如果你还能面露笑容接受它，对糟糕的事情一笑了之，生活也会变得更加有趣。”