"The feeling of love for the country has been in my heart since I was a little boy and I find comfort in expressing that feeling through my comics."
These are the words of Malaysia's famous cartoonist Mohammad Nor Khalid or commonly known as Lat.
According to Lat, he began to appreciate the country's Independence when he was six after witnessing the strong spirit of the old generation in fighting for freedom.
“During the pre-Independence days, there already exists a public awakening of possible Independence in various fields, such as arts, literature, film, book publication and sports.
"The spirit of patriotism was strong back then and the feeling of love for the country developed inside me and it was then that I realised the true meaning of Independence and standing on your (own two) feet," he told Bernama.
Lat said cartoon strips could also help unite the multi-racial people in the country as the messages were conveyed in a very simple way, as his fans ranged from children to adults.
The Perak-born cartoonist said that in order to be able to produce cartoon strips that were acceptable by people from all walks of life, he had to understand the cultures and traditions of each race in the society.
"I had to learn and study the way of life, the culture and the traditions of the community I want to portray in my comics, so that I can tell it in the most simple way to understand.
"My comics revolve around the daily lives of the people and my experience of living both in a village and in a town," he said.
Lat said he began drawing cartoon strips when he was 12 and his first comic book was published by a publication company, Sinaran Bros, in Penang when he was 13.
In the 1970s, he became a newspaper reporter before switching to editorial cartoonist and his comic strips, 'Keluarga Si Mamat' became staple features in Berita Minggu.
"As a reporter, I was exposed to so many people and their antics and I translate it all into cartoons about Malaysian people," he said.
Due to his passion in cartooning, Lat then decided to focus on being a full-time cartoonist.
The characters from his comic books 'Kampung Boy' and 'Town Boy', including of course the main characters, Mat, a village boy with untidy curly hair and typically wears a checked sarong pelikat, a teacher who wears a butterfly-shaped spectacles, a money-changer in his white dhoti, were very-much well known ever since.
Despite having retired from the industry, the cartoonist admitted that he was still working part-time and in the midst of producing a new comic book, which is expected to be completed by end of this year.
"All that I do is for the country. Yes, we work to earn money to support our family, but at the same time, we also do it for national development," he said.
He also commended the participation of the young generation in the field of animation and expressed hope that their products would be able to compete in the international area, hence promoting Malaysia's arts and culture to the world.
"I'm also proud with the success of our animated TV series 'Upin dan Ipin' and 'Boboiboy'," he added.