April 3, 2012
While last weekend, the news was mostly on either RAGE or AFKL (or if you are a hipster, Nottingham’s Bunkasai), I was invited to another event, a Draw Night / TDC Tweetup organised by Malaysia Games and Comic Convention (MGCCon). I nearly didn’t go. The fact that I had spent a boring 2 hours at AFKL earlier in the day and then drove to Melaka for RAGE and stuck in a massive jam due to three accidents meant that I was really tired. But somehow I felt that I just needed to go, especially since the MGCCon PR team was very friendly and I don’t feel like turning them down. And I am quite curious about the event as well thus I thought it was a good time to ask directly about some stuffs that I wanted to know of the convention
The draw up was held at a shop called earth638 in Kelana Mall. For people that know me well they would know that if there is something I hate in Malaysia it’s the LDP. But what do? Have to go through there. With some help from the GPS and Google Maps, I finally arrived at the place, which turns out to be this comic shop which specialises in western comics. Sorry, no pics of it’s exterior. I was too tired that I forgot to take pictures of it.
There I met with Angelia Ong (left in that Sherlock(?) type cap), boss of Banshee Creative and also a part of the MGCCON team and also handles some of the PR stuffs, which means that whenever I tweet or email to MGCCON, it’s highly likely that I was talking to her. There she answered my questions about the event (which I think I have forgotten much of it, damn I should have written them down) and also introduced me to her husband, Sheldon who does artworks in western comics. While I am not a fan of western comics (I am a manga fan through and through), I do like artwork in general and after much “persuading” by her I got one of her husband’s work (which means I will be eating maggi for the rest of the month orz).
She also showed me the “Malaysian Artist” wall (which again, I forgot to take pic of) that featured the artwork of local artist, some published independently, but all are given the same treatment as any western comic title. It was then that she introduced me to some local comic artist that was doing some comic drawings (hence, the Draw Night). I feel quite awkward at first before one of them (I forgot his name) offered me a “peace offering” (air laici kotak) and asked me to sit down. Before long we were joking and talking about their experience in doing comics
I also got to know Remy “Eisu” Mokhtar, a veteran artist who had worked with Gempak before. He and his friends has released doujins yearly at Comic Fiesta and we talked about how their experience selling their artwork at CF and how they experience first had the growth of that event. During that time Remy also touched about the Malaysian comic market, as in the normal, consumer and not the niche doujin ones. And it was not surprising. To be marketable in Malaysia the only thing a comic artist should publish is either a love story containing good artwork or something that involves Mat Rempit. Storyline is optional. And that is true. See how many love novels or Mat Rempit dramus that are being fed to us and you can guess it’s the same with the comic market as well. While locals can accept foreigners drawing superhero or non sequitur comics, they will ignore you if you are a local and try those kind of stuffs. Remy told me how he debuted in Gempak with a horror story and was largely forgotten but when he published a love story a few weeks after, everyone was talking about it.
That takes me back to years ago when I read the local comic Ujang and one of the comic I liked was Mat Despatch. I mean it contains that very same formula that Remy talked about. It has love story and also it involves rempit. No wonder it was one of the more famous story in Ujang. And yet I do yearn the time when Malaysian artist was not tied to this genre, the time where Ujang can be known just because of his part autobiography comic, or how Rejabhad was known for his good story telling skills. Sadly that time has long gone and we are now in danger of associating Malaysian Comic to being generic lovey dovey mat rempit gansta wannabe story.
It was a tiring night but I kinda enjoyed the experience. It was kinda different from the ones that I usually have when hanging out with my more “weebo” friends and somehow along the line, I got to learn some new stuffs about the local comic industry. Thank god I accepted that invitation to attend this event. Hope that can meet them again during MGCCON or CF
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