By TRISTAN TOH
It is a great time to be a geek. The blockbuster success of superhero movies coupled with heightened public awareness of Western and Japanese pop culture have resulted in animation, comics and games (ACG) conventions no longer being a niche market.
Joining the fray of such events is the Malaysian Games and Comics Convention 2012 (MGCC), jointly organised by comic creators association PeKOMIK, the Malaysian chapter of the International Game Developers Association and creative consultancy Banshee Creative.
An eclectic mix of comic book nerds, film buffs, game geeks, music junkies and art mavens came together last weekend to discuss and share their passions with their peers at MGCC.
MGCC was the brainchild of Banshee Creative co-founder Angelia Ong. Inspired by her visits to the Singapore Toy, Games and Comics Convention, she and her team discussed having a local edition, one based on the Emerald City Comic Con but with a Malaysian flair.
There were usual the highlights prevalent at all ACG conventionsmade an appearance: art galleries, gaming tournaments, legions of cosplayers and an indie bazaar; the last of which proved to be a hit amongst enterprising youth, many of whom turned up to hawk their self-published merchandise and wares.
Not content with merely staying true to the tried-and-tested formula, MGCC took on a more industry-centric approach, inviting big names from the worlds of comics, animation and video games.
One of those big names is Billy Tan, a Malaysian artist who has lent his skills to Marvel and Top Cow Studios, illustrating such titles as X-23, Marvel Knights Spider-Man, Uncanny X-Men, New Avengers and The Ultimates.
Other guests included his colleagues at Marvel Leinil Yu and Carlo Pagulayan, renowned cosplay photographer Jay Tablante and celebrity cosplay ambassador Alodia Gosiengfiao; all hailing from the Philippines.
Fans also rubbed shoulders with cartoonists Datuk Lat (Kampung Boy), Mazli Ibrahim (Gila-Gila and Ujang), Faizal Mukhtar (Manteraworks) and local comics expert Muliyadi Mahmood, who shared their experiences and opinions about Malaysian comics during the panel sessions.
Datuk Lat struck a chord with the captivatedaudience when he advised them to find a balance between maintaining artistic integrity and catering to popular interest.
Aspiring artists and designers also got the opportunity to have their portfolios reviewed by animation studios Inspidea, Rhythm and Hues, Fly Studio and gaming giant Ubisoft Singapore.
Fly Studio even flew in Mouri Youichi, director of Tekken: Blood Vengeance, from Japan to present a short seminar on how the 3D animated movie was made, and he also gave attendees an exclusive seven-minute preview.
Indie comic collective Gilamon Studios meanwhile took to the stage to celebrate their 10th anniversary, treating diehard followers to glimpses of their upcoming graphic novels. They then made way for the 4th PeKOMIK Awards, which showcased and honoured the best of the local comics industry.
Government agencies were not left out of the fun either, with Multimedia Development Corporation and Multimedia Super Corridor offering local creative talents financial grants, training, attachments and scholarships through the Intellectual Property Creators Challenge and Creative Industry Lifelong Learning Programme. Elsewhere, participants soldiered through time constraints and sleep deprivation to produce a 24-page comic and short game at the 24-Hour Comic Challenge and 24-Hour GameDevThon respectively.
While the presence of many top quality local productions signaled the coming-of-age of the Malaysian creative scene, Angelia still found cause for concern.
“These industries are relatively young, and there definitely will be teething problems to overcome,” she commented. “We are producing increasingly technologically sophisticated work; but in terms of animation and comics, we would love to see a stronger emphasis on story telling.”
Despite this, Angelia remains optimistic of the future.
“It’s an exciting time to be in the industry, simply for the sheer potential for growth. Our visitors will hopefully not just have fun at MGCC, but also bring something positive back with them!”