|Example of art style|
The early influences on his art style were from the West. Like most of the Malaysian children in the 1950s, Lat watched Hanna-Barbera cartoons (The Flintstones and The Jetsons) on television and read imported British comics, such as The Dandy and The Beano. He studied them and used their styles and themes in his early doodles. After the foreign influences in his works were noticed by a family friend, Lat was advised by his father to observe and draw upon ideas from their surroundings instead. Heeding the advice, the young cartoonist intimated himself with local happenings. Tiga Sekawan was conceived as a humorous crime-fighting story of a local flavour. Keluarga Si Mamat and its protagonist were named after his youngest brother Mamat, its stories based on Lat's observations of his fellow villagers and schoolmates. The inspiration for his cartoons about Bersunat came about when he was on assignment at a hospital. As he was taking breaks from investigating the dead victims of crime brought to the morgue, Lat chanced upon the circumcisions performed by the hospital on ethnic Malay boys. He found their experiences clinical, devoid of the elaborate and personal ceremonies that celebrated his own rite to manhood in the village. Lat felt compelled to illustrate the differences between life in his kampung and the city.
|Example of Early Style|
After his study trip to London in 1975, Lat's works exhibited the influences of editorial cartoonists such as Frank Dickens, Ralph Steadman, and Gerald Scarfe. In 1997, Ron Provencher, a professor emeritus at Northern Illinois University, reported that Lat's style reminded his informants on the Malaysian cartooning scene of The Beano. Muliyadi elaborated that The Beano and The Dandy's "theme of a child's world" is evident in Lat's Keluarga Si Mamat. Others commented that Lat's art stood out on its own. Singaporean cartoonist Morgan Chua believed that Lat "managed to create an impressively local style while remaining original", and although comics historian Isao Shimizu found Lat's lines "somewhat crude", he noted that the cartoonist's work was "highly original" and "full of life". Redza's judgement was that The Beano and The Dandy were "early formative [influences]" on Lat before he came into his own style.
|Example of Later Style|
At the time that Lat started drawing for the New Straits Times, local political cartoonists were gentle in their treatment of Malaysian politicians; the politicians' features were recreated faithfully and criticisms were voiced in the form of subtle poems. Lat, however, pushed the boundaries; although he portrayed the politicians with dignity, he exaggerated notable features of their appearances and traits. Lat recalled that in 1974, he was told to change one of his works, which portrayed Malaysian Prime Minister Abdul Razak from the back.Lee refused to print the work unchanged, and pointedly asked the cartoonist "You want to go to jail?!" In 1975, however, Lat's next attempt at a political cartoon won Lee's approval. The satire featured a caricature of Razak's successor Hussein Onn on the back of a camel, travelling back to Kuala Lumpur from Saudi Arabia; its punchline was Hussein's hailing of his mount to slow down after reading news that a pay raise for the civil service would be enacted on his return.
Malaysia's political class grew comfortable with Lat's caricatures, and like the rest of the country, found them entertaining. Muliyadi described Lat's style as "subtle, indirect, and symbolic", following traditional forms of Malaysian humour in terms of ethics and aesthetics. The cartoonist's compliance with tradition in his art earned him the country's respect.When Lat was critical of politicians, he portrayed them in situations "unusual, abnormal or unexpected" to their status or personalities, using the contrast to make the piece humorous. Mahathir bin Mohamad, Malaysia's fourth Prime Minister, was Lat's frequent target for much of his political career, providing more than 20 years worth of material to the cartoonist enough for a 146-page compilation Dr Who?! (2004). Lat's political wit targeted not only local politicians, but also Israeli actions in the Middle East and foreign figures such as prominent Singaporean politician Lee Kwan Yew.Despite his many works of political nature, Lat does not consider himself a political cartoonist and openly admits that there are others better than he is in this field.
|Example of Sensitive Topics|