Larry Feign, cartoonist of the popular and award-winning comic strip The World of Lily Wong, owes a lot to a random beach-side caricaturist in Hawaii – his illustrious career, for one thing. Oh, and his wife.
As Feign explains on Skype from Hong Kong, his home and inspiration-provider since 1985: “I’d never really taken the idea [of cartooning] seriously until I moved to Hawaii, where I was going to graduate school in applied linguistics.
“I needed a room so I put a notice on the university bulletin board, where I drew a little cartoon picture of myself so it would get people's attention. I got a call from a guy saying, ‘I don’t have a room for you but I’ve got a job.’”
Although Feign initially rejected the caricaturist's offer (several times), he finally relented when “the guy wouldn’t give up on me.” He dropped out of grad school to pursue his passion, which began with drawing caricatures on the beaches of Hawaii.
As for his wife? “She was selling souvenirs just across from me.”
Since that fated choice, Feign’s cartoons have appeared in Time, Newsweek, The Economist, Fortune, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Der Spiegel, among others. His animations have also appeared on television, on Cartoon Network and Disney, and he has published 15 books.
But perhaps Feign’s greatest claim to fame is having had the “very first website ever in Hong Kong.”
“It became the second cartoon ever on the Internet. The first one was Dilbert,” he explains. “Lily Wong was the second actual daily comic strip anywhere in the world on the Internet.”
Not bad for a guy who neither planned to be a cartoonist nor to live in Hong Kong. He muses: “Sometimes I think how strange life is, that [it] led me here.” “My website became the second cartoon ever on the Internet”
Above | A selection of comics from AIEEYAAA! Learn Chinese the Hard Way.
Above | A selection of comics – including two of Feign's personal favorites – from The World of Lily Wong comic strip.
We have a pair of tickets to give away to Larry Feign's Beijing Bookworm Literary Festival event to give away. For your chance to win, simply follow us on WeChat (ID: Thats_Beijing) or scan the QR code below. We'll send out contest details in the coming days.
Sat, Mar 26, 2pm, RMB200. The Opposite House, see event listing here (workshop). See more interviews with 2016 Beijing Bookworm Literary Festival authors here.
Illustration by Iris Wang