How I make time-sensitive Hong Kongers that reflect local news



I take anonymous questions about work, art, and chronic illness via NGL and answer one a week in a blog post. This week's question isn’t so much focused on advice but more on insights into how I create topical and time-sensitive Hong Kongers. It asked:


I've notice u r doing a lot of news related Hongkonger like the queen and the new hotel quarantine rule. How do you plan or follow the news to make them? thanks!

This month, I've been having fun creating Hong Kongers that comment on current events, which is why you've seen new ones about Queen Elizabeth II, the Peak Tram, and the lifting of compulsory hotel quarantine for incoming travellers. It's a fun challenge to make something funny and attractive within a short period of time.


I don't have a clairvoyance or secret cameras set up around SCMP's news desks. There really is no planning or scheduling involved in making these. The Hong Konger as a hobby I make a conscious effort to protect from feeling like a job. But, now that I've been asked this question, I've realised that I do do five things to create time-sensitive Hong Kongers that reflect local news.


1. Follow the news

Obviously, to make Hong Kongers about the news, I need to read the news. By nature of following HK-related news and by being in Hong Kong-focused social groups on Facebook, I end up staying updated on what's going on without much proactive effort.


90% of the time, I'll make a Hong Konger upon hearing a story. 10% of the time, I'm scouring news outlets for stories because I'm in the mood to make a Hong Konger.


Below, I'll show you five news-related Hong Kongers I made in the past 30 days and contextualise the stories behind them.


2. Find the gag

Some of my Hong Kongers are just landscapes or depictions of Hong Kong life that don't satirise or joke around. I'm talking about Hong Kongers like Portals, Peak Trail, and Sea Soar. However, for news-related Hong Kongers, I like to get satirical or make a joke out of the story.


At university, I was in an improv comedy group. That meant we put on shows that we made up on the spot based on suggestions from the audience. There were hits and misses on how funny I was, but four years of that has helped me feel more able to devise gags before news stories go stale.


Below, I'll go into how I came up with gags for five recent news-related Hong Kongers.


3. Cultivate and draw on an idea bank

Walking around, I'm always taking photos of buidlings, cars, animals, people, interactions, storefronts, anything really that looks visually compelling. They all go up to my Google Photos, and when it comes time to make a Hong Konger, I root through the pics to get inspiration.


Simultaneously, I take notes on my phone of ideas, gags, jokes, and concepts that I feel are strong but can't quite slot into an existing Hong Konger or idea