Google has released yet another doodle for its Malaysian home page, this time honouring the late cartoonist and animator Kamarudin Ismail, better known in the local community as Kamn Ismail. The date of the Google Doodle coincides with his 67th birthday, honouring his legacy in the Malaysian animation scene, especially through his use of computer technology and digital applications during the 90s.
Born in Pengkalan Balak, Masjid Tanah, Melaka in 1956, the animation pioneer received his early education at the Methodist Boys School Sentul where he developed his love of drawing. In 1975, the UK-based MacLean and Company hired him to join the Art Direction Department for the production of the movie Paper Tiger which was partially filmed in Malaysia and this was where he gained filmmaking knowledge.
From 1991 to 1997, Kamn was roped in by Kharisma Pictures to work on Usop Sontorian which was based on characters created by another legendary Malaysian cartoonist, Ibrahim “Ujang” Anon. It was essentially the first-ever Malaysian-made animation series and it took Kamn together with his 94-strong team almost three years to produce a total of 49 episodes for the show that became a huge hit on RTM.
The cartoonist then joined UAS Animation Studios in 1997 as a director, leading to the creation of his magnum opus, Keluang Man. The series was the first local animation that combined 2D animation with 3D background and became an instant hit that year.
With the help of two other pioneering animators Hassan Abd Muthalib and Hisham Harun Hashim, Kamm co-founded the Animation Society of Malaysia (Animas) in 2001 to create public awareness of the local animation industry. Hassan was known by many through his work on the classic Filem Negara Malaysia’s Hikayat Sang Kancil animated shorts while he and Hisham were also involved in Malaysia’s first animated feature film, Silat Legenda.
In the same year, Kamn also established his own company called Quest Animations, producing shows such as Che Nat, Kumang, Toman 1, Kumang Lagenda Sarawak, Lagenda Kinabalu, Pusaka, Pejuang, Duwi, and Kiddo Science World. He then decided to retire in 2016 with the award-winning Mat Kilau being his last project although he continued to nurture the next generation of Malaysian creative talents by being a lecturer at the Faculty of Creative Writing in the National Academy of Arts, Culture, and Heritage (ASWARA) until his passing in 2019.
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