Veteran comic artist Wong Kar-hei, better known by his pen name Wong Chak (王澤), died in the United States at the age of 93.
Old Master Q (老夫子), his chief comic character, has been a household name in Hong Kong since the 1960s.
Thanks to this highly successful cartoon character, Wong’s comic books have become the best-selling and longest-running in Hong Kong for decades.
Despite his enormous success as a comic writer in Hong Kong, Wong was plagued by allegations of plagiarism throughout his career.
For years it was rumored that his Old Master Q was actually “inspired” by the work of a little-known mainland comic writer known as Feng Di, who was believed to be Wong’s childhood friend in Tianjin in the pre-war years, and who died in poverty in 1983.
Yet though Wong was never able to fully clear himself of such allegations, one thing is for certain: since Old Master Q came to light in the ’60s in Hong Kong, Wong had infused his comic series with a unique local touch that made it a purely Hong Kong-style creation.
As a result, his work, despite the controversy over its origins, has resonated widely with local readers and has become part of the collective memory of the people of Hong Kong.
As such, Old Master Q has a lot in common with the Hong Kong-style milk tea.
Although it originated from the traditional English milk tea, it has been modified and adapted to suit local tastes through Hong Kong people’s innovative spirit and creativity.
Originally an overseas product, the Hong Kong-style milk tea, sometimes referred to locally as “pantyhose milk tea”, has become a famous and signature beverage of this city, loved not only by locals but also by tourists from around the world.
In a sense, both Old Master Q and the “pantyhose milk tea” are the embodiment of the Hong Kong people’s creativity, flexibility and talent for survival, the very qualities that define us today.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 4.
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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