The TKG Comic Circle was founded from the energies resonating from the comic book success of Chub Tan’s TKG Millennium series of comic books, CAKE, COOKIE and CANDY since 1999. It was formally inaugurated in 2005 and offered quality comic programmes to groom comic talents and interests in Singapore. The circle was often invited to conduct talks, workshops and courses for schools and universities ranging from the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Management University (SMU) and SIM University (Uni-SIM) as well as government related bodies spanning the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), National Library Board (NLB) and Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA).
Featured in the national newspapers in 2007 on the front page, it rose to prominence after a slew of its students swept winner titles across national comic art competitions. Known as the comic cradle, a number of its first generation associates finds themselves gainfully employed as art and creative directors in leading concept art and animation companies like Imaginary Friends Studios and Peach Blossom Media based in Singapore. Others took part in global publishing projects like the Winged Tiger with Phil Yeh, the Godfather of the America Graphic Novel.
The second generation involved themselves in a number of projects focused in technologies related to comic and anime content. This ranged from augmented realities and hologram applications in the TKG ARENA project (centering around the original card game by Chub Tan)with IDM@NTU (from 2005 to present), enabling characters to pop out from their 2D world virtually to the CALYPSO AGENCY project, a short anime film with director Jose Andreas Valesco in 2010, which is partially produced by an animation software CACANI developed by the NTU GameLabs. The software is able to generate some of the in-between frames for the traditional anime work flow, touted to cut down on manpower needs significantly. Others taking on the more conventional path won publishing grants from one of MDA’s first writer and illustrator initiatives IGNITE, with the comic story BONNIE published in the twin anthologies of ARENA in 2010.
The third generation took up a more diverse breath of opportunities by furthering their education from prestigious universities known for their strengths in game, art and animation like DigiPen Institute of Technology and University of the Arts. A selected number of “protégés” to the charter of the circle, Chub Tan, who dabbles in comic art with a fine art disposition, found themselves in School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Goldsmiths College, Central Saint Martins (CSM) and most recently Slade School of Fine Art under the umbrella of the University of London (UOL).
Since 2011, the TKG Comic Circle has been strengthening its networks by touching base with comic giants like Marvel and DC in US as well as leading global manga publishers such as Kadokawa and Kondansha from Japan. With this, the circle hopes to attract local and regional talent to tap on these bridges comprehensively on a collaborative basis and to be able to contribute towards Singapore becoming an alternative hub for comic and manga creatives.