Alice Mak: Mother of Mcdull

July 3, 2012
Editor: Zhao Liangfeng

Alice Mak created the popular McDull, a cartoon pig character, who has become a landmark in Hong Kong's animation industry. [hudong.com]

Alice Mak created the popular McDull, a cartoon pig character, who has become a landmark in Hong Kong's animation industry. [hudong.com]

Twenty four years ago, McDull, who likes eating chicken and is distinguished by a birthmark around his right eye, was born in Hong Kong.

Mcdull has a heart of gold, but he isn't very smart and ordinary in every way. Nevertheless, he has many dreams. However, every time he tries, he fails; he is disappointed, but tries again, exploring other dreams. In this way he creates his own colorful world. He lives his life simply and naturally. He is not perfect, but his attitude towards life, never giving up, makes him a popular character.

Since then, 23 comic books of McDull's stories have been published and listed among the best books for Hong Kong high school students.

In 2001, the first McDull movie, My Life as McDull, was released, documenting his life and the relationship between him and his mother. The movie took in box office earnings of more than HK$0 million (US$1.29 million) in 10 days. In subsequent years, several more movies and TV series featuring McDull were made and have been well received.

The creator of Mcdull is Alice Mak, who is usually called Ms Mak by her fans.

Mak said that, as soon as she could think, she began to express herself in drawing.

As the middle child of the three in her family, Mak has been independent since she was young. "My parents did not push me to study hard at school, so I had plenty of time to do what I preferred," said Mak. "I told my mother I wanted to study graphic design, and she agreed. I started to take that course at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University."

While studying at university, she spent most of her time on an illustrations job she found there.

Before graduation, she received a scholarship allowing her to visit illustrators in Europe. During her visit, she found that they were responsible only for drawing the illustrations while leaving their managers to deal with their clients.

Mak admired their work methods as they allowed them to focus on painting. After graduation, she took a job drawing illustrations for the book Belinda's Blanket.

After that, she tried to write comic stories based on animal images but did not succeed. When it came to choosing McDull however, Mak's said, "I just like that animal."

Mak was born in the urban area of Hong Kong and had never seen a living pig before creating Mcdull.

"I am just fond of pigs. They are mysterious for me, so I created Mcdull," she said.

Mak still likes reading fairy tales with beautiful illustrations, especially those with animal characters.

"I am curious about animals I am not familiar with, and I like gentle animals like cows and turtles," she said.

For the past 20 years, Mak has never created a bad character, or even a wolf. "It is partly because of my growth experience. In my life, I am surrounded by kind people, so I am not good at creating bad characters," she said.

As for Mcdull: "He is not a genius, lawyer or doctor. He is also not a stock broker who can make a fortune overnight. So how does he deal with society? Is he unable to get used to it? Mcdull answers those questions with his actions," Mak said.

Though Mak prefers staying at home, she always draws places she has never been to, or things she has never seen before. So for example, in the comic books, Mcdull travels to Wuhan, in central China's Hubei Province, a place where Mak has never ventured.

'Life Partner'

Mak claimed she is passive, which is the major factor in her cooperation for 20 years with her husband, Brian Tse, for 20 years on the Mcdull series. Tse's job is to write stories and the dialogue for Mak's comics.

Mak and Tse were married after the creation of Mcdull. In a sense, both Tse and Mcdull added new elements to her growth as an artist.

"For the most part of my childhood, I was idling around. Now I am 40. I am still naïve and slow in thinking. I am not good at anything except painting," said Mak. "However, Tse is smart and thoughtful. If I talk about something new, he will analyze the reasons behind it. And I am always confused like Mcdull."

Though she has no children, she has taken to Mcdull as her child. "I am just like Mcdull's mother who likes her child," she said.

(Source: cnxianzai.com/Translated and edited by womenofchina.cn)

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