Exclusive: Meet Malaysia’s 1st YouTuber with a million subscribers!

Comment

We’ve all heard of Upin&Ipin, Namewee and JinnyBoyTV but the first Malaysian channel to hit a million subscribers? Well, last night, our very first Malaysian channel CartoonHooligans broke the record!

 

Credit: Kamil Haziq

Credit: Kamil Haziq

Bram Lee, 28 from Sungai Petani, Kedah, is (mostly) a one-man army behind YouTube channel CartoonHooligans. His subscriber base is primarily from the US, Canada, Brazil and Mexico with only 5% from Malaysia. Having studied 3D animation at the One Academy, he started focusing on the channel full time at the beginning of this year.

Bram’s love for drawing ever since he was a child stemmed from watching TV and reading comic books, as there were very little entertainment at his home town.

“It was quite easy to get Hong Kong comics at the time as well as Japanese manga, so my elder cousins would lend me some of theirs. They were lucky in the sense that their parents gave them the freedom to buy the comics. My sister’s boyfriend used to buy some for me too,” shared Bram.

“I watched a lot of cartoons. I particularly like Batman’s creator Bruce Timm’s style. I used to watch these cartoons and draw the characters emulating his style. I was also exposed to Gempak, which was quite popular at the time,” he added.

With dreams of becoming a comic book artist and a passion for telling stories albeit not only in words, Bram won a talent search organized by Gempak for the under 18 category. He was only 15 then and the opportunity would have been to freelance for Gempak. Unfortunately, they denied him the opportunity due to his age.

However, it was not long before things started looking up again. Finding himself in the Klang Valley a year later to pursue his studies, the Gempak contest was organized again and he reiterated his intention of claiming his prize once more.

 

Credit: cartoonhooligans.tv

Credit: cartoonhooligans.tv

“At first, they were reluctant but eventually they gave in. I met the comic director and showed him my work. For 1 1/2 years, I would take the comics that I drew to their office after school and show it to them. The comic director would give me his feedback on how to improve my work to reach industry standards. That was the first time I actually received professional feedback and it really pushed me as a young artist. They published my work for the first time when I was in Form 5,” said Bram.

After completing high school, Bram won a competition organized by The One Academy and received a RM50,000 scholarship. He took the offer and earned the rest of his tuition fees by freelancing with Gempak.

Upon his graduation, he worked at a local studio, making TV commercials but after 2 1/2 years, he decided to call it quits as the workload was heavy and the creative freedom was limited.

 

Credit: cartoonhooligans.tv

Credit: cartoonhooligans.tv

“That’s when I started a company with a friend of mine and we released a mobile game for iOS and Android – Waacha. It didn’t kick off but I learnt a lot in terms of the business and the importance of the internet in promoting and monetizing a product. From there, we began making games for other local companies and I began working at The One Academy as a guest lecturer,” he said.

“I started making YouTube videos because I had an idea for an animated series but after talking to a few studio heads, I realized that I needed at least RM4 million to sustain a team to bring it to television. So I decided to put it online, as it was the fastest way to be out there. However, I was hesitant to put my original idea out there for fear of being plagiarized. So, I decided to make parodies instead to make a name for myself,” Bram continued.

Cartoon Hooligan became famous as an animated parody videos of short cartoon of different comic universes mashed up together.

 

Credit: cartoonhooligans.tv

Credit: cartoonhooligans.tv

When you were freelancing for Gempak, how long did it take you to produce 1 comic? How much did it pay?

The comics I produced were 6 to 8 pages long and it took 2 weeks to complete them. They paid me RM60 per page and that included the rights to the comics as well.

On average, how long did it take to produce a video?

Videos on my channel are mostly between 2 to 3 minutes but if I have to make 2 characters fight, it would then take me 2 months. If it were just a few gags on the video, I need 2 to 3 weeks depending on the length of the video. A shorter one would probably take me a week.

Do you voice the characters yourself?

No, I don’t because of my accent. 2 of my friends in the U.S, voice the characters for me. They can be found on YouTube as EpicVoiceGuy & FunnyGuyTimmy. They do it for free because I animate for EpicVoiceGuy for free if he needs me too but it rarely happens though. It’s trading of skills among friends.

 

Credit: cartoonhooligans.tv

Credit: cartoonhooligans.tv

Aside from the voicing, do you do everything else yourself or do you have a team?

I’ll do the animation but if I need someone to ink it for me and I find that there’s too many frames, I would hire a friend to help me out.

At what point did you get the assurance that you could focus full-time on the channel? 

As an artiste, it is challenging to be told what to do because you tend to give your heart and soul into creating the artwork and the client or art director comes around and asks you to change it. In the end, after 10 versions, they’ll go back to the first one. It happens everywhere, regardless of whether it’s a local company or an American one. With my channel, I am willing to adjust my content based on the feedback that I get but it still has to be something that I enjoy.

 

Credit: cartoonhooligans.tv

Credit: cartoonhooligans.tv

 

There have been quite a few YouTubers who have come out to say that YouTube doesn’t actually pay much even if you are getting the views and that you need to do sponsored content to survive. Being a YouTuber yourself, what do you think of this?

I did ask Google about that once and I found out that the rate at which you are paid depends on the location of your audience. So, for example, even if a YouTuber hits a million views but has an audience which is mainly from Malaysia and Singapore, they wouldn’t be getting paid that much. Getting views from Asian countries don’t pay that much as compared to getting views from Western countries and that is why American YouTubers tend to earn more.

Besides your own channel, which is your favorite channel on YouTube?

That would be Tested. I love Adam Savage!

What has being a YouTuber taught you?

Control. Even though I have creative freedom now, I still have to set limits for myself because my viewers are of various ages. I used to make dirty jokes in my videos but I tone them down nowadays.

 

Credit: cartoonhooligans.tv

Credit: cartoonhooligans.tv

Check out CartoonHooligans on Youtube.

Eusoff Andrei

Author

Eusoff Andrei

Eusoff Andrei does DJ'ing, emceeing, and acting on the side and he thinks he's pretty darn good at it too. He loves performing arts and as a social creature, he enjoys meeting new people for inspiration.

Related Posts

Discussion about this post