The country’s best-known cartoonists come together for a special edition comic magazine dedicated to His Majesty the King
While photographers, painters and poets continually create works that pay respect to His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej during this time of mourning, the cartoonists over at “Kai Hau Ror”, the weekly comic magazine, are choosing to remember their Monarch in their humorous, playful and light-hearted ways in the magazine’s first ever special edition, “Smile of the King”.
After 43 years of uninterrupted publication, the two weeks following the King’s death saw Thailand’s most popular household gag magazine stopping distribution as a mark of respect. The special edition, which boasts a sleek white cover and elegant gold print, hit the shelves last week though advance online orders have been accepted since late October.
“This is our first-ever special edition and we have dedicated the whole magazine to one person,” Pimpicha Utsahajit, executive director of Banlue Group, which owns “Kai Hua Ror”, tells XP.
“While we put everything on hold to mourn His Majesty’s passing, we also wanted to do something to honour and remember our beloved King in the way we do best, through funny cartoons. It’s only natural that we have chosen to focus on the King’s light-hearted, fun and down-to-earth side because that’s what we’re good at. So in this very special edition, readers will get to read about the King’s endeavours and projects for the people ... and the reflections and influences he made on all our lives that made us who we are today.”
Made to be enjoyed and also collected, “Smile of the King” is packed with colour and black-and-white cartoons across |132 pages, 16 more pages than the normal edition.
Unlike many other special edition books and magazines that compile photographs and paintings of HM’s in “picture book” style, “Smile of the King” is a story book, illustrated and narrated by veteran “Kai Hua Ror” in-house cartoonists as well as well-known guests, including The Nation’s political cartoonist Stephff and Briton David Lloyd from “DC Comics”. Among the veteran cartoonists is Phakdee Santaweesuk, creator of the famous mischievous character Pang Pond.
“I’ve created a cartoon for HM the King before and it was a great surprise when we were asked to do this special edition. It’s such a great idea,” says Phakdee, who has been with the magazine since 1989. “Though we had to finish our work very quickly to make it to print, the limited working time was no problem at all. The challenging part was choosing just one of the thousands of things you would like to say about His Majesty. I have always been touched by the King’s down-to-earth lifestyle and witty humour that made him very approachable and close to us.”
Pang Pond in this special edition is seen putting up small picture frames on the wall that later become the shape of Thailand, suggesting that the Monarch is the revered leader who unites the citizens.
Noo Hin, the cheeky Isaan girl with signature flared nostrils, also “stars” in a small strip called “Father”. As she walks around admiring her father’s well-maintained garden, she learns that the simple yet profound practice of sustainable living was encouraged by HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej. “I learned this from this father, our King,” Noo Hin’s father tells her.
“Sustainable, simple living is one of the King’s teachings that I have fully adopted,” says Noo Hin’s creator, Padung Kaisri, who has been with the magazine for 24 years. “I’m from Ubon Ratchathani and his teaching about agriculture is very close to my heart. Noo Hin is the best character to showcase this feeling. I’m very glad to be part of this special project and have the opportunity to personally express my admiration and loyalty to the King, and immortalise his grace with my cartoon.”
Another country boy who grew up touched by the Monarch’s kindness is illustrator and writer Anuchit Kumnoi, founder of inspirational cartoon page www.Facebook.com/KiwTum, who makes a guest appearance in the magazine. His simple yet profound reflection of HM the King is seen in his minimalist drawing of a child and his grandmother marvelling at the artificial rain commissioned by HM the King.
“I come from Sukhothai and when I was a kid I always wondered where rain came from out of the rainy season. All of a sudden during the drought there would be this rain that just appeared in time to save us. My grandma would tell me that it was “the king’s rain”, so I always thought of him as an angel that could conjure up rain,” Anuchit says.
“When I grew up, I realised that he was even more than an angel: he was everything to us. He taught us to think of the greater good and live our lives fully while trying to help others. And that really sticks in my mind. Whatever I do in life, I intend to do my best and also try to benefit the greater good.”
Illustrator Nathawee Limpanilchart, from www.Facebook.com/MaaJa, also joined the team of illustrious cartoonists with stories of Khun Thong Daeng, His Majesty’s pet dog who he adopted as a tiny puppy.
“The King is the ultimate example of simple life.” Nathawee says. “Look at Khun Thong Daeng. She’s a stray, a mongrel, and she received such love and kindness from the King. His Majesty donated money to set up a home for stray dogs in Hua Hin a few years back to address the stray dog problems and inspire people to adopt more. I’m a dog lover and I’m a big fan of Khun Thong Daeng, so it’s a great honour to tell her story in the magazine.”
Nathawee’s cute depiction of Khun Thong Daeng narrates the story since she first came into the King’s care at just five weeks old and how she grew up to become an intelligent, affectionate dog and a simple joy in the Monarch’s life.
- On Online orders close on Friday or while stocks last. “Kai Hua Ror” is also available at bookstores and |7-Eleven nationwide for Bt20.
- For more information, visit http://SmileOfTheKing.com and www.Facebook.com/KaiHuaRor.