Two beloved local artists have left us.
Popular comic artist Alfonso Wong died of organ failure in the United States on Jan. 1. He was 93. Singer Barbara Fei Ming-yi died at the Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital on Tuesday at the age of 85.
Both Tianjin-born artists played influential roles in Hong Kong’s art world, and their passing at the beginning of the new year was sad news for many locals who have come to know and appreciate their works, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Wong was the creator of the iconic Lao Fu Zi comic series, also known as Old Master Q, which looked at the humor of everyday life in Hong Kong.
His works were part of the childhood memories of many locals.
Working under the pen name Wong Chak, he created comic characters that have become part of the pop culture in Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia since1964, when his series debuted.
Wong once said that his life was very much like a comic strip, where he, not unlike Old Master Q, tried to impart a little laughter to the lives of his readers.
His pen name was taken from the name of his own son, who took over his work in 1995.
Fans differentiated the two by calling them the old or new Wong Chak.
Wong’s comic strips once faced accusations of copying or of lacking originality, but their popularity remained unshaken.
Famous animator Lo Tsz-ying praised Lao Fu Zi’s success, saying the simple storylines and artwork gave people a good laugh while chronicling the lifestyles of different decades.
During the ’90s, culture commentator Pang Chi-ming accused the Lao Fu Zi series of copying ideas from the comic strips of Tianjin artist Feng Pendi.
But today, Pang said Wong truly deserved the success of the Lao Fu Zi series, saying the artist was able to make the cartoon character come alive with a unique sense of humor.
The Hong Kong version, besides being funny, had the guts to speak out on various issues.
For example, Wong depicted hooligans in flare jeans and used them to express his displeasure for the 1967 riots.
The secret to Lao Fu Zi’s success lies in its ability to stick to trends, making it easy to be made into films, cartoons and even toys.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying expressed his condolences to Wong’s family and described Lao Fu Zi as one of Hong Kong’s legends.
In a separate statement, CY Leung also expressed his sadness at the passing of Barbara Fei.
He said Fei had long been dedicated to promoting music, culture and arts in Hong Kong, public broadcaster RTHK reports.
She contributed her expert knowledge to help the government in formulating policy on music promotion and other matters concerning arts and culture.
Born in 1931, Fei hailed from a family with deep cultural links. Her father, Fei Mu, was a top mainland film director of that era and her uncle was a director of the newspaper Ta Kung Pao.
Fei started learning piano and singing from a very young age and established herself as a soprano by the 1950s, the report said.
She was a member of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council for 20 years, and was awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star in 2012.
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