Uncle Wat gone but ‘Baby’ remains Immortal
There are always books parents want their kids to read and others they prefer the little ones to keep away from but “Nhoo-Jah” and “Baby” were always welcome in the house.
Many parents wanted their kids to read “Nhoo-Jah” and “Baby” because they believed the comics were not only harmless but would shape their children’s souls in a beautiful way. And it was here that the late cartoonist Uncle Wat played a big part in helping form a good society via his cartoons for more than 5 decades.
Uncle Wat, who passed away on Tuesday, January 11, at the age of 90, was also known under his artist’s name “Ta-toh”. He was in charge of content in “Baby” since it was first released in 1961. Any Thai aged over 40 will have grown up reading his cartoons, if not buying the comic books themselves. So it comes as no surprise that the news of his death saddened his millions of fans and brought back fond memories of his drawing.
Born Wattana Phetsuwan, the cartoonist loved drawing from a young age and constantly practiced his art. While he was working as a cartoonist for Cartoon Hansa, Banluesan publishing editor Banlue Utsahajit approached him about a job and he stayed with the Banluesan group from then on.
With “Baby”, it was his intention to make it as kid-friendly as possible. As the name suggests, it was suitable for the littlest family members thanks to its harmless content.
“I created cartoon characters as young kids because I wanted little readers to think of them as their friends,” he once said. Uncle Wat wanted his cartoons to be in households and schools so designed the content of “Baby” to entertain all youngsters without any hints of profanity, dirty jokes, nudity or sex.
At first, he proposed many names to Banlue, the owner of the publishing house, but he liked none of them. So he thought about English names and “Baby” popped up. He proposed it and got immediate approval from the owner.
He did well in keeping the lines clear and fans knew well that they could find more adventurous and grown-up content from him in Banluesan’s flagship comic “Kai-hau-ror”, which translates as “selling laughter”. Apart from editing and drawing cartoons for “Baby”, Uncle Wat was responsible for the cover of the group’s best–selling “Kai-hau-ror”.
“Many people asked us about the font of our logo (Kai-hau-ror) but in fact there was no such thing as a Kai-hau-ror font as the logo was created by Uncle Wat, who was our publishing house’s pioneer cartoonist. He made that exclusively for Kai-hau-ror and we’ve used it until today,” read a tweet on @kaihuaror, the official Twitter account of Banluesan publishing.
The Twitter accounts of the Banluesan group, as well as official fan pages of Uncle Wat, were flooded with condolences from his young-at-heart fans who feel nothing other than gratitude for being entertained through the characters in “Baby”. “I remember going to the newsstand to check whether Baby had come out yet,” said a 50-something fan on Facebook.
“I am saddened to hear the news. Baby was my most loved cartoon and I waited for it to hit the newsstand. I wrote letters to Uncle Wat too and I got one published with his reply in the comic book, which made me feel very impressed. RIP Uncle Wat and thanks for entertaining kids and making us happy for a long time,” said Ponsagorn Suntornchanarung on Uncle Wat’s Facebook page.
Although he has gone, his art is immortal. Fans still see the Kai-hau-ror logo and his works have become Crypto Art collected by many as assets via Kaihuaror NFT.
Uncle Wat just drew something to make readers happy. He did not invent a spacecraft or try to solve the mystery of the universe. But his creations have a long-lasting effect and in the best way possible.
By Veena Thoopkrajae
Photo courtesy of Kaihuaror Twitter and Uncle Wat fanpage onFacebook