Friday September 28, 2012
Just draw it
Worlds of Wonder
By KALEON RAHAN
Want to be a comic artist? You can start by joining Drawlaahh, where like-minded Malaysians get together to, well, draw!
SO you think you can draw, but you don’t know how to get that “big break”? Have you honed your artistic skills to perfection, but keep getting rejected? Worry no more, for you are not alone and there is a solution to accelerate your quest towards that “big break”.
Here is the true story on how a posse of Malaysian comic artists achieved their lifelong goal. The year is 2010 and the setting, the Singapore Toys Games and Comics Convention (STGCC), an eventful occasion thanks to the presence of David Lloyd (V For Vendetta), Matt Fraction (Iron Man, Uncanny X-Men), Leinil (Secret Invasion, Superior), Salvador Larocca (Iron Man) and Marvel talent scout C.B. Cebulski. For the artists, interacting with those fan-favourite creative talents was a dream come true, but reality bit down hard when it came to meeting Cebulski’s expectations. Despite being armed with painstakingly prepared portfolios, the process of entering the House of Ideas was not for the faint-hearted!
Fortunately, despite Cebulski’s negative conclusions, the “Meet Matt Fraction” session managed to raise their hopes somewhat. All it took to unlock their conundrum was an obvious question from the floor: “How do we get to do what you do?” Fraction’s spine-chilling response? “Finish something, get it out ... and keep showing up, man.”
“Finish something”. ”Get it out”. “Keep showing up”. As simple as it may sound, these three action-oriented sentences became the starting point and mantra for Drawlaahh – a Malaysian platform for aspiring comic book talents. Starting off as an art blog space, a group of local talents would contribute their sketches based on a random theme; for instance, if the Dark Knight is this week’s flavour, then all contributors will sketch him in his or her own way. After a year of activity, a few of the artists got together under the Banshee Creative collective, and last month they achieved a new milestone via the launch of the Drawlaahh: Vol 1 sketchbook, a name that is truly Malaysian, thanks to the “Laahh” post-fix.
The driving force behind Drawlaahh is Angelia Ong, who also happens to be the brainchild behind several key domestic comic events, including the Malaysian Games and Comics Convention, and Comics Are Cool!; while she is assisted by the creative forces of Sheldon Goh, Alan Quah, Faezal Tan, Lefty Julian, Soefara Jaafar, Confused Monkey Studio, Zid, Teo Yong Jin, Amir Shahlan and Lip Wei. Collectively, these bunch of domestic comics crusaders are the main protagonists in enlivening the domestic comic scene.
Having joined some of the Drawlaahh crew in a few of their monthly “Draw Nights”, I can vouch for their talent and potential in holding their own on the mainstream front. Guys like Goh, Quah and Zid already have mainstream credentials under their belt – Goh has been turning heads with his work on Zenescope’s Grimm Fairy Tales (Baba Yaga has never looked so good!); Alan’s had a good run on Arcana’s Anywhere; and Zid is set to make his debut on Top Cow’s Son Of Merlin series by year end. As for the others, Faezal has achieved international recognition via his Wires project; while Lefty Julian is well-known as one of the stalwarts of the local comics industry with Gilamon Studio, and you can also see more of his ironwork sculptures in George Town, Penang.
With all these creative people involved, the Drawlaahh Vol.1 sketchbook is certainly worth a peek, as it offers 19 pages of sketches featuring some of the best art from the Drawlaahh art blog space. From the Joker to Wolverine, our Malaysian crew provides their renditions of some of comics’ best-known characters.
Besides the more established artists, it is interesting to note that there are some diamonds in the rough involved in it as well. While many would have been intimidated by the idea of being featured alongside established artists, the three newcomers to the comics industry – Soefara, Lip Wei and Amir Shahlan – managed to hold their own. In particular, Soefara’s Red Sonja and Lip Wei’s Maggots gives us hope that there is a strong creative pipeline in the works. Further assurance for the future is provided by Confused Monkey Studio – which comprises three under-12 brothers with the power to “draw their future”!
Overall, it’s encouraging to see efforts like Drawlaahh emerging, especially when the domestic comics scene is in dire need of re-energising. Hopefully, this project will spur other closet Jim Lees to step out and be counted, and stamp a mark for Malaysia in the mainstream arena. Now that some of our countrymen have made inroads abroad, let’s do our bit by supporting and participating in efforts like Drawlaahh!
> Want to meet the people behind Drawlaahh and participate in the Malaysian launch of the sketchbook? Drop by Earth 638 (2nd Floor, Kelana Mall, Jalan SS 6/12, Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya) tomorrow between 4.30–8.30pm. For more info, call 03-7804 8380, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit facebook.com/comicsarecoolnow.