Today, Google Doodle celebrates the late Kamn Ismail (also known as Kamarudin bin Ismail), a pioneering and award-winning Malaysian animator and famed cartoonist.
Best known for Malaysia’s first-ever action superhero, Keluang Man, Kamn Ismail’s work is often recognised as the predecessor of many other great Malaysian animation shows such as Ejen Ali, BoBoiBoy, and Upin dan Ipin. Based on DC Comic’s Batman, Keluang Man won the hearts of many back in 1998 from its first appearance on RTM1. His legacy lives on today, as a live-action film based on this vigilante is underway.
However, his trailblazing path was not one without challenges. Despite successfully collaborating with the international film company, MacLean & Company, for the film Paper Tiger, Kamn Ismail went on to take a job at Malaysia’s rail operator, KTMB, upon his father’s advice. For the following 17 years, he remained at the company while secretly learning computer animation techniques in hopes of pursuing the career of his dreams.
His hard work soon proved to be fruitful, as he got the attention of Kharisma Pictures, where he was tasked with training their animators and even directed Malaysia’s first animated television series, Usop Sontorian, in 1996. To this day, the titular character has remained a cultural landmark for many Malaysians.
It was only after his stint at Kharisma Pictures that he went on to become a director at UAS Animation Studios, where he developed his hit, Keluang Man. Here is where he did some of this most innovative work, where he blended 2D and 3D animation to bring the characters to life. At the time, the technique was considered to be cutting-edge.
All this comes to a zenith when this legendary animator took home several prestigious prizes, such as the Best Animation at the 16th Malaysian Film Festival for Kumang. At the First International Festival of Television Productions of Islamic Countries in Tehran, he won third place for Che Nat.
Before announcing his retirement from the industry, Kamn Ismail had one last hurrah, and it was Mat Kilau the animated series. This went on to win several awards and was translated into other media such as comics, a digital game, and augmented reality.
All images: Google
This story first appeared on Prestige Online Malaysia