As an aspiring comic-book writer, I've found that it's a lonely and solitary journey, learning the craft by myself and trying to write my first script. For a long time, I wondered if I'm the only writer in Singapore who is making a serious attempt at a graphic novel.
The thing is, I really believe there are lots of people in Singapore who have an interest in the creation of comics, but we are all isolated in little pockets here and there, unaware of one another's existence. When Gail Simone and Kurt Busiek visited here for the Singapore Writers Festival in December 2007, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people turning up. Also in 2007, MDA starting giving out a comic book grant, and the comics anthology Mugen was born, showcasing a new generation of unknown but talented artists and writers.
Where did all these cool people come from? They could be living right next door, but we'll never knew who they are until they reveal themselves. (And let me tell you, I've recently found out that I have some interesting neighbours.)
So, I know for sure that there is a comics community out there. There just hasn't been any common platform to bring everybody together. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were a monthly gathering, where like-minded comics buffs can meet, make friends and talk comics? Writers and artists can share our experiences, learn from one another, spark off ideas and find collaborators to work with.
After getting some encouragement from Cheng Tju and Zero, I decided to give it a shot.
A cosy bunch of 7 comics nuts gathered at the Botanic Gardens last Saturday, 20 April 2008. The weather was good, and I had a fun and enjoyable afternoon meeting like-minded people and discovering that I'm not alone. Most of the attendees are aspiring writers, with the exception of one who is a writer-artist. This was surprising to me, since I always thought there are a lot more artists than writers here, at least when it comes to comics.
After a round of introductions, we chatted about all sorts of things related to comics -- favourite superhero powers, damsels in distress, costumes (or the absence thereof), cartoons, movies and TV series, the psychology of villains and their minions, etc.
Ric showed us some rare issues from his private collection, and started a discussion about the appeal of the B-story, which is a sub-plot supporting the main plot or the A-story. B-stories are interesting in that they contain elements that provide character development.
Otto talked about his new comic book targeted at the international market -- the niche he has decided to focus on, what he's doing to raise his own creative quality and how to listen to the target readers to find out what they want.
We ended the day by deciding to brainstorm for ideas about how to generate more buzz and attract more people to the next gathering. I would personally like to get some ideas about we can do to pull in more artists. And ladies. Let's not forget the ladies. I refuse to believe that comics are only for guys.
The next gathering
Let's keep the momentum going by meeting on the last Saturday of every month. For the next one in May, Ric has agreed to do a short presentation on an interesting topic about comics. We might video it and put it up on YouTube for sharing. I will announce the details here in the next few days, so please watch this space and help spread the word!