December 22, 2006

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Malaysians in the Comics/Manga Scene


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In terms of successes in the comics/manga scene, we still need to catch up with the Malaysians. Tan Eng Huat, our northern cousin, has already found his break over in USA with DC Comics too. He found success illustrating a re-launched Doom Patrol, and moved on to do the A-list characters such as Batman (BATMAN: JOURNEY INTO KNIGHT). You can argue that it might not be the best Batman mini-series, but nevertheless, it’s still Batman. And imitation is the best flattery, other artists are following Eng Huat’s manga-like style. Neil Googe’s artwork on Wildstorm’s ‘Welcome to Tranquility’ (written by Gail Simone, who did the Singapore arc in ‘Birds of Prey’) appears to be influenced by Eng Huat’s line work.

It appears that in the comics/manga scene, the Malaysians are a bound ahead of the Singaporeans. In the 90s, some artists from Malaysia has already broken into the Hong Kong comics scene. Wee Tian Beng was a promising manga artist who made his debut during that decade, but his work didn’t manage to make much impact where it matters. Then again, ‘Celestial Zone’ managed to survive commercially for more than a decade. And pictures from the recently concluded Comics Fiesta also suggest that the Malaysians are a nose ahead of us in the standard of cosplay.

It appears that the local doujin circles would rather participate in Malaysia’s comics convention than to feel under-appreciated at home. Apparently otakus/fanboys over in Malaysia are more supportive of homegrown produce. Malaysia has already gotten it’s local comics anthology, ‘JOM’, featuring works by their local artists. Not that there’s none in Singapore - there’s ‘W.I.T.C.H.’ a shojo-kei manga from Chuang-Yi. A US-based publisher Century Comics came up with a tradepaperback collecting the works of Southeast Asian comics artists under the title of ‘Singapore’s Greatest Comics’. It’s excusable that I don’t dig W.I.T.C.H. since it’s girly stuff. But I would just read ‘Singapore’s Greatest Comics’ if I see it at the library.

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