Living with housemates can be very challenging. After all, when you put a bunch of different people under one roof, each with his own personality and quirks, all sorts of things can happen – and if you’re particularly unlucky, everyone rubs each other the wrong way and life becomes hell.
If you’re lucky, on the other hand, crazy housemates can lead to comedy gold. Just ask comics blogger Ernest Ng, whose adventures with his housemates (or bros, as he calls them) are the subject of his webcomic Bro, Don’t Like That La, Bro.
Ng’s webcomic is one of the most shared webcomics in Malaysia, with over 30,000 likes on its Facebook page so far. It has been turned into a bestselling book (Here Comes The Bros, 2014) and has launched a prequel spinoff, Bro Don’t Like That La Bro, Origins: Back To School (2014). And now, Ng has come up with the second book in his series: My Bad Bromance.
“It’s a continuation of the main story from Here Comes The Bros, although it still has a lot of random jokes here and there. We also explore my relationship with this one girl that was introduced in the last book,” says Ng, 30, at a recent interview in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
“It also kind of explains my relationships with my bros, hence my bad ‘bromance’. Sometimes the relationship with my bros can be a little strained, but always in a very comedic way!”
My Bad Bromance (Keropok Comics) combines previously-drawn content from his online comics (dontlikethatbro.blogspot.my) along with all new material. It continues the adventures of Ernest (yes, the author is a character in his comic) and four “bros” he once lived with in Subang Jaya, Selangor: overly laid-back Shamus and his culinary-loving brother Jamus, absent-minded but musclebound Jon, and the unpredictable, perverted Daryl.
“Daryl is the most popular one. He’s the cheekiest, and most unpredictable, and to put it in a crass way, he’s the biggest pervert among the five of us! People like that character a lot, how he tries his luck with girls. It’s not like people want to be like him, but they are impressed by his courage and how he’s so open about things,” the author says with a smile.
In Ng’s book, the Bros take part in everyday activities, like playing Monopoly, tossing yee sang at Chinese New Year, and eating healthily, and somehow manage to turn them into epic misadventures. There’s never a dull moment: costumed mascots get beaten up, Daryl gets naked at unexpected times, and restaurants are fouled by gas attacks.
According to Ng, the hardest part of the book to draw was a story where some of the bros went bowling.
“I’d never drawn a bowling alley before! So trying to replicate it in a cartoon was a challenge, I had to go on Google Image search and find references,” Ng says. “When I draw something, I have to make it look as real as possible so people know what it is. You don’t want to draw a bowling alley and have people think it’s a snooker centre right?”
Asked if he ever worries about running out of ideas for his comics, Ng says he usually has the opposite problem.
“I have an idea bank, where I write down my ideas. So I’m not struggling to find them, but I do struggle to keep up with my ideas!” Ng says.
When he’s not drawing crazy shenanigans in his comics, Ng can often be found performing crazy shenanigans in front of the camera. That’s right, this comics author lives a double life as a prominent YouTuber, who’s appeared in many popular videos from DanKhoo Productions and JinnyboyTV, among others.
“Sometimes when people first find out, it blows their mind. They always thought this comic guy and this YouTube guy were two different persons. They then sometimes send me e-mails, like ‘oh my God I had no idea!’, and it always makes my day,” Ng says.
“I enjoy doing YouTube videos. It gives me a break, takes me away from just drawing so I have more avenues to express my creativity. I think if I was always drawing, I would drive myself nuts.”
Ng says he’d love to play an action hero one day. Maybe in something like a Jackie Chan film, which combines stunts with comedy. For now, however, he is still getting used to being recognised as the Overly Hardworking Security Guard, a role from one of his most well-known videos.
“When I go out, people I don’t know come up to me and ask, hey, you’re that security guard guy, right? Or they say lines from the video. It’s funny in the beginning, but it can be awkward. Someone comes up without any proper introduction, just going ‘No, no, no, no, no’!” Ng says, referring to a signature line from the videos.
Asked about the future, Ng says he will definitely be making more videos; he and some friends have just founded MacamYes Studios, a video production company based in Kelana Jaya, Selangor. And more tales about his bros are still on the table.
“If I have enough demand, I’d love to do another book. The first one was about shenanigans, and the second is focused more on relationships, so maybe the third will be more about career and working life,” he says.
What Ng would REALLY love to see, however, is for his bros to come to life in an animated series somehow.
So why not combine both his talents and create a video series based on his comics?
“I would love the bros to play themselves, but I don’t know if they would be keen. Maybe we could get YouTubers to play them! The Ming brothers could be the Jamus and Shamus brothers.
“And maybe … Dan Khoo could play Daryl? And maybe Jinnyboy can play Jon, I don’t know. And I would play myself, definitely!” Ng says with a laugh.