Malaysians say jokingly that if you want to know the truth about the country don't read the newspapers; read LAT. For those who have not been initiated, LAT is not an acronym but the name of Malaysia's most famous cartoonist, Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid.
I searched my little library at home and found Lat's collection of cartoons. They included, Kampung Boy, Lat's Lot and Town Boy. It's not the whole collection but it is in the last book that I found what I wanted. Lat's love for 60s music shows in his depiction of the rock and roll hey-day after he left his kampung life and went to Ipoh town.
The cartoons above enact his meeting with a Chinese boy called Frankie who told Lat, "I like pop music also. Do you want to exchange records with me? I have ALL the records! You just say it - I GOT IT! What record you want? Elvis... Cliff Richard... I got all! Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Paul Anka, Pat Boone, Neil Sedaka, the Patters, Connie Francis, Bobby Vee. You have heard a new group called the Beatles? (from: Town Boy - Sixth reprint 1992)"
When Lat told Frankie he had no records for exchange, Frankie took Lat to his home. They went into a 60s kopi tiam (coffee shop) called Kedai Kopi Ah Hong. But as we are taken illustratively beyond the won-ton mee stall and the kopi drinkers, through dark, winding staircases and long wooden corridors, the reader finally finds himself in a large family room where his friend shows Lat his father's collection of a treasured radiogram with the latest 60s vinyl records of Bill Haley, Ricky Nelson and other pop hits (images 1 and 2). To Lat it was the thrill of a lifetime as the final double-page image 3 shows them screaming and yelling to the roof tops to the surprise of Frankie's grandmother and sister.
Have you read Lat's cartoons. You're missing plenty if you haven't.
Quotation and Images from: Town Boy By Mohd. Nor Khalid, Berita Publishing Sdn. Bhd. A Member of The New Straits Times Group, 22, Jalan Liku, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Sixth reprint 1992. Printed by Percetakan Cergas Sdn. Bhd. 58100 Kuala Lumpur.
Original article/images: Andy Lim Collection.