By Shazwan Zulkiffli
Ernest Ng has come into his own of late as a YouTube star, especially with his Nepalese security guard character as part of DanKhoo’s latest video that has spawned a spin-off skit on Ernest’s own growing channel.
Aside from filming vlogs and hilarious videos, Ernest Ng is also a comic artist famous for his Bro, Don’t Like That La Bro webcomic series. The series is one of the most widely shared Malaysian webcomics out there, with 31,054 likes on its official Facebook page and thousands of comments peppering every comic strip Ernest posts.
Recently Ernest announced in a video on his Facebook page that the first Bro Don’t Like That La Bro collection, ‘Here Comes The Bros’, has been discontinued. However, Ernest and the good guys at Keropok Comics came out with an expanded edition of the same book alongside Bro Don’t Like That La Bro #2: Bad Bromance, the much anticipated sequel to the first installation of the bros and their shenanigans.
2 weeks ago, Matt sat down with Ernest to talk about his books, career, and life as a comic book artist. Ernest was kind enough to pass us a couple of signed books, so we decided, why not review the adventures of the Bros?
The plot is easy to follow and relatable, but the way Ernest shapes the storyline through many, many bro-ventures is just so good. I love how Ernest takes his time in assembling his short comics and slowly forming a solid plot, capped off by a frustrating cliffhanger that makes you want to buy the second book as soon as possible (thankfully, it’s out now). My reaction to the ending was a simple “And then what?!”, and thats when I knew that I needed to read the second book, pronto!
When Ernest chose “brotherhood” as the theme, well, that’s not exactly groundbreaking stuff. But when he put these bros in the 2000s-2010s era of semi-digital Malaysia, then it became something really fun- and dare we say it- and shareable. I dare say that Ernest’s interpretation of the glory days where Blackberry was king, Facebook was still in its infancy, and the iPhone was still a pipe dream in Malaysia, is the most accurate depiction on the net or on the shelves – and you can’t find anything as cheeky and as honest as Bro Don’t Like That La Bro.
Bro Don’t Like That La Bro’s humour took me by surprise. The biggest reason why it’s hilarious is that most of these events actually happened in the real life adventures of Ernest and his friends, and as a result the scenarios are familiar enough that you will recognize your friends’ characteristics in the Bros. If you have a group of bros you see every day, you can simply relate with the hijinks and camaraderie that follow modern day brotherhood among young Malaysians.
Bro-jokes aside, Ernest is smart to put true Malaysian pop culture in his strips. The amount of thought and love put into these Malaysian culture-infused strips give you a sense of familiarity, and makes you feel happy that it is celebrated in Ernest’s way. These two are my personal favorites:
The characters in the comic book make the perfect wolf pack, whether it be a night out at Changkat or playing DotA 2. Ernest made use of everyone’s individual differences and collective similarities to bring non-stop gut-hurting jokes from start to end. The character development is superb, especially Ernest’s character where he grows from being a terrible flirter, to actually getting **SPOILER ALERT** a real girl’s mobile number.
The book is priced at an incredibly affordable RM29.90, exclusively at Popular Bookstores. Singaporeans can find the book at Borders in Singapore.
Overall, the series gets a solid 7.6/10 from me. Ernest’s Bro Don’t Like That La Bro isn’t just a local comic franchise; the series is actually inspiring many young comic artistes to sharpen up their pencils to have belief that they, too, can draw for a living just like Ernest Ng. The series sets the bar high – a standard that hopefully, budding artistes can reach. After the fall of Ujang and GILA GILA, there wasn’t much hope for the local comic industry until local indie artists like Ernest and Bro Don’t Like That La Bro rose to prominence. The series has one special thing that most local comics don’t: being simple, true, and dedicated to just having fun. As a reader, that’s enough to entertain and impress me in the most essential of ways. This modest interpretation of brotherhood and all things Malaysian is what we need in the market, – and we need more it from Ernest Ng and other artistes in the scene.