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The pig that dares to dream

By Liu Wei  (China Daily)

09:59, July 13, 2012

The best-loved pig in Hong Kong is called McDull. His mom makes a wish that he will look like Chow Yun-fat or Tony Leung, two movie heartthrobs, but he is distinguished only by a birthmark around his right eye.

The cartoon piglet is not smart, either. Everything he tries, he fails. He wants to be an Olympic champion of qingbaoshan, but the sport of grabbing the most steamed buns from a pile doesn't really exist, of course. He dreams of going to the Maldives, but ends up on a one-day tour of a Hong Kong landmark instead.

However, the slow, dumb pig has won over Hong Kong people, often stereotyped as eager to quick success. Since he first appeared in a magazine in 1988, McDull has been honored with a bronze statue and wax figure. On July 10, the fourth McDull movie will premiere in both the mainland and Hong Kong.

The popularity of McDull occasionally confounds his creator Alice Mak, a slim illustrator with a tender voice, few words, and frequent smile.

"Maybe people see themselves and their friends in McDull," she says.

Mak had never seen a real pig before she drew McDull. She was born and spent most of her life in Tai Kok Tsui, an ordinary Hong Kong community where she can still buy cheap food. It is also where McDull grows up.

Like McDull, Mak moves and speaks slowly. She describes herself as a simple person, who does not try to draw too much meaning from the McDull stories. As a Christian, she has some simple beliefs, such as God creates humans because he loves them and wants them to be happy.

In the late 1980s Mak worked at a press company as a summer intern. The company boss, Brian Tse, later became her husband and scriptwriter of all McDull movies and books.

McDull was at first a supporting character in a story about his cousin McMug, a smart piglet and "what parents expect of their children". But it turned out that the woodenheaded McDull was more appealing.

When McMug promises his classmates that if he becomes the class president he will treat everyone with strawberry cakes, McDull struggles to utter one sentence in his speech: "If you choose me, you will be ... painful."

He gives up his favorite chicken thigh to his mom and practices sports he dislikes to make her happy. He has many dreams, most of which end up in disappointment. He is still happy, however. When he gets an "H", he thinks it looks "only a bit different" from an "A". According to his headmaster, he isn't that stupid, he is just too kind.

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