The Level recently sat down with local comic artist Ernest Ng, author of Bro Don’t Like That La Bro, at his office to talk about life and his latest book, Bro Don’t Like That La Bro #2: My Bad Bromance.
Bro Don’t Like That La Bro started off as a webcomic detailing the shenanigans of Ernest and his four bros, Jamus, Daryl, Shamus, and Jon, as they stumble through life in their young adulthood.
Hi Ernest. First off, congratulations on the third book!
Hey, thank you! It’s been a long time coming. It was actually supposed to come out last year.
Yeah, we read about that when you announced the book on your website. You said there were some major delays that weren’t your fault.
Because…I will never admit to it being my fault. Haha! But it’s memang not my fault la. Actually, the book was already done and everything was already completed in July 2015, but there were some delays that held it up. Thankfully, it’s out now.
So, how do you feel now that it’s finally out?
I actually feel very relieved. I was very worried that it would never come out.
How was it like, dealing with the fact that it was delayed, especially because it’s completely not your fault? We’re sure that people were hounding you constantly.
Yeah! I got harassed, like, almost everyday from really young fans, – really young readers, – and you can’t just blow them off, because they are your readers.
So I just had to be really patient, because sometimes you get questions every day, and people are just like, “Where’s the book? Where’s the book?”, and no matter how many times I tell them that I will announce it when it’s out, it somehow doesn’t get to them.
I had people messaging me and emailing me every day. I had to deal with that. Because I’m…I reply to people most of the time? And especially in regards to my book, if they have any questions, I will always, always reply.
The part that was quite stressful for me was that I had no idea when it was coming out. So I always had to say, “It’s coming out soon”, and I couldn’t give anyone an exact date. So on my part, it made me look like I don’t know what’s going on, and it doesn’t look very nice. So, that part was kinda stressful – handling those questions on a daily basis.
Thanks for sharing. Now, you first built your name in the local entertainment industry with your comic series, but now you’ve also been in a lot of youtube vides, and you’ve also started actively vlogging for the past 7 months.
Do you have any personal favourites of the videos you’ve been in?
Personal favourites, huh…
Like, which one is the favorite one for you to watch?
Right, uhm. The funny thing is I never watch my own videos. Its like…if I had a friend who was a singer, and if I go into his car and he starts playing his songs on the radio, – his own songs, – I think I would be more like, “You listen to your own music…?”, you know? That kinda thing. So I don’t really watch my own videos, because…it feels odd for me.
But if you say the most fun one to act in? I would say it’s those that I get to play, like, various weird characters that are clearly not me – I’m just playing someone else. Like , the , or like a police officer. So yeah, I like playing those kinds of characters.
So you like playing the ones that are not really you?
Well, that’s funnily enough in stark contrast to your character in your comic series.
In your comic series, – as the purple shirted Ernest, – you are…how do we say this. You are the “voice of reason” compared to the other 4 bros. Why the contrast?
Well, I always think of myself as a funny guy, but when I’m with my 4 bros, I have always felt that they are funnier than me, – so it gets a little overwhelming. So I tend to hold back, and I feel that even when I make jokes, I will not go to their extent. I realized that if there was no one there to be the voice of reason, I would have to be the voice of reason.
But then when I’m acting, it’s just acting. It lets me be someone else, because in real life, I think that I’m…well I’m playful, yes, but at times I can get quite serious as well.
Who’s the favourite person you’ve worked with in a video that is not a part of the team here? *points around the room at the rest of the MacamYes Studios team*
Oh. Favourite person? I would have to say it’s the Team at JinnyboyTV. It’s because that whenever I do shoots with them, it always feels like there was a monumental effort has been put into what they’re doing.
For example, the one I did with them, , they actually did the setup to make every room look like a gamer’s room. They bought lights, – coloured lights and all that fluorescent stuff, – and they actually bought gaming chairs. They actually purchased all these things out of their own pockets just to make that scene happen. So I guess the amount of dedication that Jinnyboy puts into his videos is actually quite amazing. It always makes me feel like I’m in a high budget, professional setting.
But of course, with this team, it’s always the best, because I feel we’re actually really having a lot of fun when we do shoots.
*points to the rest of the MacamYes Studios Team*
Yeah, we can see it in the vlogs! You guys are constantly messing around.
Haha yes, yes! Maybe that’s why we don’t get stuff done most of the time.
I mean, we do get stuff done, but we always make sure we do have a fair share of work and play at all times.
Speaking of your vlogs and getting stuff done, have you figured out how much that costs? *points to the mini-golf putting green in Ernest’s office*
No, *laughs* I still have not. But people still send me links about the price, and it fluctuates. I don’t think I’ll ever find out the exact retail price Dan paid for this mini-golf course.
How much has it affected productivity?
Well as you can see there, there’s a chart there where we actually a compete with each other and see who has the highest percentage of…hole-in-ones, I guess?
*points to the window*
So…yeah. It affected us in the first week, like, severely. But now everyone’s starting to slow down and it’s starting to get too easy for us, so we get back to our serious stuff.
So does that mean you’re going to buy another one soon?
Dan plans to have 18 holes. He’s going to build a golf course in the office.
How on earth are you going to fit all 18 holes in here?
Well, we never though we could fit one hole. So…I think Dan will figure it out.
Alright, now back to the book. What can we expect to see from the bros?
As you can see from the first book, the red coloured one, it’s more or less to introduce the shenanigans of the bros, and how idiotic they can be. But it *SPOILER ALERT* ends in a cliffhanger about me meeting a girl in a bar. *SPOILER END* So the new book kind of continues that story, because people have wanted to read what happened between me and the girl, right after I got her number at the bar.
It explores more on relationships, hence the title My Bad Bromance. It talks about the relationships I have with my bros, – about how it’s sometimes good, but also sometimes how strained it can be, – as well as this relationship with this new girl that I just met.
That’s pretty deep.
Yeah, I know! I have no idea why I went in that direction. I guess it’s because I want to explore more topics, you know? I know that people enjoy the occasional toilet humour, – the crassness of my humour, – but I just wanted to explore more topics to make me more relatable and more human. That I’m not like, a full-blown comedian all the time. Sometimes you have to go deeper. We do explore a little on the feelings side, but I do maintain that usual blend of humour.
Early on in the comic, it was established that most, if not all of the bros lived in the same house. Is that true?
That was true. The 5 of us lived in the same house for quite awhile, hence there were a whole ton of embarrassing stories. I mean, you put 5 guys in one house…things tend to happen. Those stories that you read in the first book, the red one? 90% of it is true. *laughs*
Was Jasmine, the owner of Mocha the dog (recurring characters in the comic), also living in the house?
Yes she was.
How did you fit all 6 of you and the dog in the house?
Uh, it was actually kinda like, a big house. I have no idea how we fit all of us in the house, but apparently we managed to. Of course, not everyone gets a room. *laughs*
Yeah…some of us had to sleep in front of the TV. On the couch. Yeah, things like that.
But in the comic, I gave everyone rooms to make it a bit more simple, so I don’t always have to draw someone lying on the couch, at all times. *laughs*
But yeah, we did manage to fit, somehow. Of course Jasmine got her own room with the dog. And she…she tries to stay as far…she tries to spend as little time with us as possible. She doesn’t always appear all the time, but when she does, she’s sort of like a second voice of reason – but a more violent one.
Yes, we’ve noticed that tendency. How many times have you guys have traumatized her dog, according to the comics? [, , , , , ]
Uhm, I have no idea. Thankfully, the dog hasn’t introduced any sort of psychological disorders. The dog seems to be…used to it, I guess? (Editor’s note: That’s not a good thing guys!!)
We don’t physically abuse her (Mocha the dog), but I guess the bros and their shenanigans might have mentally caused her a bit of trauma.
Do all the bros still live in the same house today?
Sadly, no. We all grew up, and things are a little different now, – ever since I’ve got this career going on, and lots of things I’m handling, – so I had to move out. That could be explored in the next book in the series. We don’t live in the same house anymore, but we do still meet up from time to time. We’re bros, and we’ve known each other for the longest time.
Are your bros really as weird and eccentric as you paint them to be in your comic?
Yes. I believe so. These could be the exact representations of them. Maybe the reactions are a little exaggerated for the comic, but they are that eccentric. I guess when you’re young, have nothing better to do, and you’re in between jobs most of the time, you tend to have a lot of free time – hence all the stupid things.
We’re almost done here. Do you want to officially plug your book, and tell us where we can find it?
Yes! Please do get my books, Bro Don’t Like That La Bro. There are 2 of them right now – the first one (the red one) is called Here Come the Bros, and the second one is My Bad Bromance. You can get these books nationwide at any Popular Bookstores, because I’m exclusively distributed by Popular; but if you’re in Singapore, they’re also available in Borders.
For the Here Come the Bros, you’ll notice that it’s now an Extended Edition, sort of like an upgraded and updated version of the original print. I wanted to release more of my old comics, and I didn’t know where to put them, so we re-released the Here Come the Bros as an extended version so that there are extra comics in there. It’s a little thicker, and it also has FAQs inside as well. It’s suitable for both people who are new to the series, and longtime fans who want to collect it.
Alright, that’s great stuff. So, when is your next book signing? Because that page on your website is currently blank.
Oh yes! Currently I do not know, because usually the organizers will contact me, and that’s when I update that page. It comes and goes, and the unfortunate thing is I don’t get a full schedule of the entire year. So it’s always a month or two before the event that I have to update it, so the updates are very intermittent.
There definitely will be some signings this year though. One of the major signings I will definitely be doing this year is the Popular’s Bookfest Malaysia 2016. I will definitely be there. (Editor’s note: Popular’s Bookfest Malaysia 2016 has not yet been announced.)
How can fans keep up with you?
The can keep up with me on my Facebook page, which is . Over there, I upload most of my content – from both my YouTube channel, as well as my comics. If you want to stalk me even further, you can follow me on both and , my handle is @ErnestNgBro. I didn’t call it or make it @dontlikethatbro because it’s more of my personal stuff. So that’s me. you can see my life a little bit.
So, one final question. Bear with us here.
Oh, haha, that is so good! That is so good.
Yes, definitely can make money. I’ve gotten this question a lot, from a lot of people. It likes, when people ask me:
“So, you draw comics, but what do you really do?”
“I draw comics.”
“No, like a real job job.”
“I just told you, I draw comics!”
Definitely, in these current times, drawing comics is a viable career path, but it takes a lot of effort and hard work. One of the biggest challenges you have to face is that people think it’s not real money. So you have to make sure that you can make money, hopefully to change that mindset
Alright. Thank you so much Ernest for talking to us, and all the best with your new book!