Ace in animation
> The mastermind behind takes us behind the scenes of his YouTube success
BRAM LEE grew up in a small town in Kedah where his only source of entertainment were animated series such as Batman and Justice League. These superhero cartoons, alongside comics from Hong Kong and Japan, inspired Lee to draw. He would scribble drawings on his grandmother’s mahjong papers at a quiet corner of the house.
When he was 15, Lee won a drawing competition organised by Gempak magazine, which led him to Kuala Lumpur to study and work as a freelance comic artist. He trained hard to become a professional and managed to develop his talent faster than the average teen. After graduating, Lee worked on many TV commercials. However, as with most animators, his dream stretches beyond that. He created a production bible filled with original stories, then pitched them to government bodies and investors in hopes of acquiring funding to make a feature film. Alas, things did not work out as he’d hoped. So, he turned to YouTube. In December 2013, Lee created his own channel Cartoon Hooligans, posting mostly parodies of existing comic characters, such as from DC and Marvel Universes. “A channel that makes parodies is like a channel that produces song covers. You need an existing audience before producing original content, then you will have an audience when the latter happens,” explained the 28-year-old. This year, Cartoon Hooligans became the first YouTube channel in Malaysia to hit one million subscribers. In the beginning, most of my content was not appropriate for the general audience because I was following the trend. Because of that, I received a lot of hate and people were reporting my videos. I got really frustrated so I stopped and went back to freelancing. Then I met Jin from JinnyboyTV, who was hiring people to animate for his channel. He encouraged me to continue doing YouTube since I’ve already started a channel. Nine months later, he cowrote two videos with me and then I slowly found my direction. I would think so. I was travelling at the time so I wasn’t aware of the exact moment it hit one million. I was very proud when Google presented me with the gold ‘Play’ button. I have so much more to achieve and I want to go further. Most of the time, my projects overlap in different stages. I could be working on sound editing for one video, and thinking of what to do next. If an idea pops up, I would write it down. That’s why I always carry a sketchbook around with random drawings and writings.
The writing process normally takes one or two days, and I would spend another two to three days drawing the storyboard. I would place it in the editing sequence to check the timing. Once I’m happy with it, I would send the script to the voiceover talent.
After that, I start production. I like production, but it’s the toughest stage for me because it takes a lot of time. It could take me from 5 in the morning up till 11 at night. Sometimes I think I’m crazy spending such long hours producing such short videos, but it is something that I’m passionate about. I hope to have a few more channels and produce original content because that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Put up content that you believe in and believe is good. Don’t create content just for the sake of it, or put up something just because you haven’t done it in a while. Even if it’s a filler, make sure that it’s good. Don’t do it just for the money.
is Lee’s favourite comic when he was young.