Group of artists in S'pore responsible for Highnunchicken comics on Facebook & Instagram

Channelling the New Yorker vibe.

Andrew Wong | December 17, 2018, 08:48 AM

Populating the feed of many self-respecting Singaporeans these days is the one-panel greyscale Highnunchicken comic.

Depicting punny scenarios that Singaporeans can relate to, Highnunchicken is like The New Yorker cartoons given a Singaporean spin.

Just started out

Out of nowhere, Highnunchicken started posting in May 2018.

Its brand of tongue-in-cheek depictions of Singaporean idiosyncrasies and non sequiturs have been steadily growing in popularity ever since.

The most viral Highnunchicken comic has been shared more than 4,000 times on Facebook.

If Highnunchicken looks similar to SemiSerious, another one-panel comic thingy that started earlier in August 2016, it is most likely because one-panel cartoons in this style is both a challenge to create and have come to be regarded as the epitome of making funny respectably.

While Highnunchicken looks similar to New Yorker cartoons in terms of style, its humour caters more to a millennial audience, as evidenced by the play on catchphrases, such as, "Go outside settle", and highlighting the slang and frivolity of "hypebeast", for example.

People behind it

With not much digging, we managed to identify the people behind Highnunchicken through their Instagram accounts.

The four individuals are: @thisisjz, @jollymcwank, @mossewu and @puntat_thoughts.

In response to Mothership queries, the artists actually replied us.

Here is the Q&A.

What are your backgrounds?

So, to give a little bit of context, Highnunchicken is run by a group.

We work in the creative industry, which is great because it provides us with a constant source of pain -- supposedly great for art.

What inspired you to start drawing the comics?

It stems from us being huge fans of New Yorker cartoons, y'know, the pinnacle of gag cartoons.

We've been drawing our own cartoons individually (we still do) and one day we thought that it'll be fun to try coming up with local cartoons.

We're not really trying to achieve anything here, we're just having fun.

And I think we'd all agree that Singaporeans can afford to have a little more fun.

Laugh at ourselves, laugh at each other, but maybe don't laugh at the government.

How hard/ easy is it to draw one comic?

Execution-wise it's actually pretty straightforward.

The hard part is the idea because they can't be churned out on command (@clients, please read).

We'd meet up every now and then to hang out over teh and try to bang out some ideas.

We have good days where the ideas just flow and bad days when we just can't come up with anything solid.

But that uncertainty, not knowing what we'll come out with, is what makes it so fun. And to answer your question... it's alright I guess.

What do you think about Singaporean’s sense of humour?

Truth be told, we didn't think that people would enjoy our cartoons when we first started, especially the darker ones.

So, it's pretty heartening to see that Singaporeans do have a sense of humor about things.

Perhaps one day, broadcast TV can be watchable again. Until that day comes, we'll just keep drawing.

What are some things about Singapore/ Singaporeans you find funny?

Truth be told, we can't really list this out because we've never actually thought of it that way.

Meaning, we don't go about listing things we find funny about Singapore/ Singaporeans and try to work our way to a cartoon from there.

Instead of "funny", we look for uniquely Singaporean habits or mannerisms that we may not be fully aware of.

For example: before getting off a train or a bus, we tend to take one step forward as a sort of signal to the people around us that we're getting off.

Or how we tend to feel a little slighted when property agents ignore you outside MRT stations because you obviously don't look like you can afford an apartment. Y'know, quaint little things like that.

Ultimately, we're just trying to make each other laugh, there's no set way to do anything and we try not to get bogged down by too much details.

Out of that list, was there anything that you found difficult to draw?

In reference to our previous reply, nothing is actually hard to draw when it comes to the technical side of it (we have three proper illustrators on the team).

The difficult part really is getting the idea for a cartoon out in the first place.

But that's also really fun, so we're not complaining here.

Have you guys received any backlash from making fun of insurance agents/ cancer patients for example?

Not as much we thought there would be.

Also, it's pretty mild as far as backlashes go, they're simply comments or DMs from people saying that they find something inappropriate.

So, in all honesty, we actually haven't had any backlash at all.

Most Singaporeans can all appreciate a little dark humour to help us cope with the shit that life puts us through.

Have you been approached by companies to produce work for them?

Sure, we've recently created an installation piece for Kult as part of their booth in Culture Cartel.

We're open to working on more installation pieces so feel free to slide into our DMs if anyone is reading this.

What are your future plans for Highnunchicken?

None really, we're horrible at planning. We're just gonna keep going till it stops being fun.


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