Kampung Boy, by Lat, is a favorite of millions of readers in Southeast Asia. And as the old saying goes, how can millions of Southeast Asians (or Elvis fans) be wrong? Kampung Boy tells the story of Mat, a Muslim boy growing up in a kampung (or village) in the heart of the tin mining district in the Kinta Valley in Perak.Our story is set in the 1950s and that is an interesting choice since the narrative almost reminded me of a certain television show from the 1950s. Well, actually it was the 1960s and the show was the Andy Griffith Show. Not that a cast of similar characters appear, but that the stories have a certain timeless, small town (or kampung) feel to them.
The press for this title compares it favorably to Charles Schultz and I would have to agree in that the artist uses a simplistic, economic style that reminds one of Schultz. Mat is a boy, not unlike Opie Taylor, who is full of mischief and is always getting into one situation or another.
He also tells of the traditions of his village and although some of them are much different to ours in the States, they do have a universal feeling to them. Some of the Muslim traditions of the village are very different, including a circumcision ceremony and Mat having to attend Muslim school.
However, in many ways certain things are different but in many ways things are the same. The stories are quite amusing and the artwork is grand to look at. The story is left open ended and one senses that more volumes are forthcoming and are eagerly awaiting by at least this reviewer.