When we decided to move to Malaysia, 3 years ago, I made a list of things I would like to achieve. Among them was to meet LAT – Mohammad Nor Khalid or Datuk Mohd Nor Khalid- , the famous Malaysian cartoonist.

On the morning of  July 9 2009, I met LAT in his house in Ipoh.LaT hello

I was supposed to interview him to write an article for Greenselipar. I had three days to prepare my questions. I found it very difficult to find clever and pertinent questions. I had known LAT for almost 17 years through his art, it was like meeting an old friend. I didn’t know what to ask. I am not a journalist, nor a cartoon critic, so there were no point in pretending to be either one. I just wanted to meet him to see if he was anything like his cartoons.

I worked hard to find clever questions about his art, and how he sees tourism in Malaysia. I was so very excited and not stressed enough. The result :  my interview was a disaster! I was so captivated that I forgot my note-book in my car, forgot to record our conversation and ruined the only two pictures I was able to take. But I spent 2 delightful hours in LAT’s company, drinking his words like nectar, brain unplugged.  From the first second I saw him, my impression of knowing him for a long time stayed intact : I was meeting an old friend. As LAT said, his books are about friendship and LAT’s friendship often starts with comics and music sharing.I was lucky enough that he liked the comic books I offered to him – ‘Là où vont nos pères’ (‘The arrival’), Tan Shaun, Dargaud Ed.- 

I hope this day will be only a beginning and that we would be able to communicate further, meet again, in Malaysia or in France where LAT goes once a year and built a friendship. I hope so.

LAT : our official guide to Malaysia

I first encountered LAT’s cartoons in 1991, when I visited Malaysia for the first time. Straight away, I liked his sharp ‘look’ on the Malaysian people. I then bought my second LAT comic book in France, ‘Kampung Boy’, translated in French and published by Tête de Rock Underground Editor.

When we arrived in Malaysia in September 2006, we started collecting all the LAT comic books we could find. LAT’s cartoons, became our “official guide to Malaysian culture and customs”. Everyone in my family enjoys reading LAT’s cartoons and appreciates his true and accurate eye on Malaysian society. When we travel in Malaysia we often notice “it’s like in LAT’s books!”. When we discover a new cartoon we appreciate the way LAT draws it, as it is exactly what we observe or experience in Malaysia. LAT is our “virtual” private guide: his cartoons helped us better understand and appreciate Malaysian culture and society. LAT’s books are the best means to understand the last 30 years of modern Malaysia. Malaysian society has certainly changed, but so many aspects of the everyday life have stayed the same : KL traffic jams, flash floods, mega sales festivals, Hari Raya huge migration (families going back to their hometown), deserted KL during Chinese New Year, illegal logging, perception of foreign tourists, etc..

LAT’s photographic eye

LAT is very famous in Malaysia. His work has been published in two retrospectives – ‘LAT — The Early Series’ ( NSTP Resource Center publisher) being the latest one. ‘Kampung Boy’ is popular worldwide with the animation series which won the Best Animation Award in Annecy Animation Festival (France) in 1999; the Malaysian post office published a collection of ‘Kampung boy’ stamps. LAT’s cartoons have been exhibited in Malaysian National and Art Museums.

Meeting Lat 2
Lat has coped well with fame. He has stayed  humble and simple and lives a normal life in Ipoh. I am amazed by such humility and kindness. We chat about his cartoons,about his childhood and the games he used to play with friends. He told me about the cartoons he is working on . We chat about a selection of cartoons I brought with me, mostly about tourism and the environment.  I was surprised by his memory: when he sees a cartoon he knows exactly when and where he drew it. We talked about some of his experiences and it seems he keeps in mind a lot of details about the background, the décor, the scenes (even the names of the streets, things I would never remember): enough to draw a very old scene from memory. We talked about his success abroad, and other cartoonists he appreciates.
meeting LAT

Because I am not a journalist, and because I forgot my note-book in my car, I won’t write much about these points. I need to organize another meeting with LAT and next time be sure to be all prepared!

Written by Catherine Bossis , 12 July 2009
Permission granted to reproduce for personal use only.
Commercial use is prohibited.

The pictures were taken by David Foon who share with me this memorable moment.

Good links to know more about LAT :http://www.etawau.com/HTML/AirAsia/Lat.htm