Kaew, Thai artist behind Just Toon It, combines comics and football to address social issues and discuss the news

Kaew, Thai artist behind Just Toon It, combines comics and football to address social issues and discuss the news

In 2013, a graphic designer quit his job to become a comic artist. Five years on, his first-ever 3D art exhibition is being held in Hong Kong

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Suebsakul Sukaram (Kaew) quit his job in 2013 to work on his comics.
Photo: Alejo Rodriguez Lo/SCMP

Not many people can claim they have their dream job, but Suebsakul Sukaram is one of the lucky few. The Thai football comic artist, who is better known as Kaew, has combined
his love of football and of art into popular online comics. He set up Facebook page Just Toon It seven years ago, and he now has more than 374,000 followers who like, share, and comment on his work.

Kaew’s work is so popular and well-loved, 11 football players from different teams have been transformed into a set of 3D installations at Tseung Kwan O’s Metro City Plaza Central – just in time for this year’s Fifa World Cup football tournament.

Young Post caught up with the artist earlier this month while he was in town for his first-ever exhibition, to find out where he gets his inspiration from, what he considers his best work, and what motivates him to continue drawing.

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Kaew told us that one of his biggest challenges is producing a lot of art during the football off-season, because “there are no stories to tell”.

Because of that, the Arsenal fan said he constantly keeps up to date with current social issues, as well as trending hot topics. This awareness is reflected in Kaew’s comics, which will refer to films, other comics, and major world events.

Kaew’s artwork is very popular – his Facebook page has more than 374,000 followers.
Photo: Just Toon It

One of his most popular pieces, for example, combines football with concepts from the manga Naruto. The piece, which Kaew said has reached more than a million people, features football players such as Brazil’s Neymar wearing ninja bandanas like the ones worn by the Akatsuki clan in the Japanese series, with their former football club logos scratched out. This is because the players in the comic have, in real life, left their old clubs for the French club Paris Saint-Germain, a move seen as a betrayal by many football fans.

“I like adding humour and optimism to social issues, so that they aren’t just another piece of news,” Kaew said. He added that he hopes, through his art, to help lessen the rivalry between club fans.

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The former graphic designer said he began uploading graphics related to celebrities, games, and social phenomena onto Facebook about seven years ago. One year later, Kaew started uploading his own football comics, which proved fairly successful, so he quit his job in 2013 to focus full-time on his web page.

“I never thought my comics would receive such a positive response,” he said. “I only showed them to my friends at first. They shared my work with their friends … and everyone kept encouraging me to draw and sketch more football players.”

His focus on the game has clearly paid off, with his very first exhibition being held in Hong Kong. It was also Kaew’s first visit to Asia’s World City – he said he loved dim sum and roast duck.

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The artist, who said he was a Marvel, DC, and Dragon Ball fan, said he was excited but nervous about his exhibition, and that he was looking forward to taking back some comic action figures from Mong Kok back to Thailand.

Kaew said he gains satisfaction from being able to “spread happiness to people all over the world, from all walks of life”.

He added he was thankful for all the support he has received for his 3D exhibits, which will be on display in Tseung Kwan O until July 15, adding “it’s hard to put my happiness into words”.

Edited by Ginny Wong

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
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