The past two weekends must have been a blast for geeks/otakus from Singapore and around the region. The fan-driven A.C.M.E (A Certain Magical Event) happened just last weekend while the Singapore Toys Games and Comics Convention (STGCC 09) took place the weekend just before last.
STGCC is the second iteration of STCC, which had expanded in both space and content. Commercial exhibitors appeared to have taken a greater interest in this event, evident by the effort they took to do up their pavillions and the presence of more brands. While STGCC is modelled upon the San Diego Comics Convention, A.C.M.E is a macro-event inspired by Comiket. A.C.M.E is an expansion of KKnM’s Chara Fest. Besides retailing exclusive anime merchandise, A.C.M.E saw the return of doujinshi event watzART. A.C.M.E also brought together Gunpla retailer Hobby Art Gallery as well as Japanese trading card game retailer The Card Geeks. What left the deepest impressions from both events, was the participation of local and regional creators – both the pros and the budding talents.
The Singapore Toys Games and Comics Convention is bigger and better compared to the inaugural event. I didn’t have the chance to visit STGCC 09 on all three days, and managed to visit the convention two hours prior to closing on the last day. Although the event had an increase in floor space, it didn’t look any less crowded. The place was packed till the final hours.
The participation was impressive. The commercial pavillions look better decorated than the previous years. It’s a testimony of the exhibitors’ confidence in this event. There appeared to be more participants at the cosplay event. But what made my day were the booths from Gempak Starz and the Artist Alley.
Gempak Starz is a publisher from Malaysia, and the company had been publishing monthly comics magazine in both Malay and Chinese. Some of these stories are collected into graphic novels format, and some are made available in English. All the stories serialised in the magazines are homegrown (Malaysian) content – and the quality is amazing. These works are on par with the comics/manga coming out of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea, and considerably has a greater variety of style as some of the stories are influenced by American/British comics. Malaysia had produced many talents, with some becoming full time professionals working in the North American comics industry and some in Hong Kong’s comics industry.
Gempak’s crew sharing a moment with the president of Association of Comics Artist (Singapore), Jerry Hinds
Malaysia’s homegrown comics industry is definitely ahead of Singapore. Gempak’s monthly publication has created the conditions for Malaysia’s talents to showcase their capabilities, and fans’ support had contributed to the thriving scene and sustainability of the commercial interests. And Gempak had certainly invested in promoting and marketing Malaysia’s talented artists, proving them a platform to grow and shine. And indeed, one of Gempak’s former artist – Ben, was one of the winners in Japan’s inaugural International Manga Award with his story “Le.Gardenie“.
JACK DOE: Anonymous – my favourite story from MUGEN
This is a stark contrast to Singapore’s only comics publisher – Chuang Yi. It’s core business still remains in re-publishing Japanese manga into simplified Chinese and English. Although it collaborated with MDA to produce a monthly original anthology MUGEN, the effort taken to develop and promote the content was lackadaisic. If Singapore wants its own comics industry (or original content industry), it just has to look north to look at what the Malaysians are doing.
What impressed me the most at STGCC 09 was the artist alley. It’s bigger than last year, with more creators than before. Many of them hail from around the region – especially Malaysia and Thailand. It’s the coolest street within the exhibition hall – more indy and hip than the established urban vinyl artists.
There’s more good stuff than what I had in my wallet. Walking down this section of STGCC 09 is like walking through the independent fashion boutiques and finding many gems among the collection. I spent more than $150 between Gempak Starz and this section of the convention.
Troy Chin is one of the artists to watch. Ever since his books went from screen to print, his fan base grew. He had fans coming up to him, with some bringing him tributes. One fan offered to buy one of his posters – very limited edition (one copy only). And of course, many asked about Mint. Like many of the other fans, I’m eagerly looking forward to The Resident Tourist Vol.4. According to Troy, TRT4 will first be published and sold in hardcopy, before re-released for free viewing on the Net.
Here’s the bundle of joy that I took with me when I left Suntec Convention Centre:
Loot from STGCC09
I got the same kind of buzz when I dropped by A.C.M.E. Though it was already mid-afternoon, the event was still packed with fans.
Replicating the Comiket Experience
Many otakus were queuing outside NAFA hours before the doors opened so that they would be able to get their hands on very limited exclusive items from the recently concluded summer Comiket. Also the To-Love-Ru kuji (lucky draw) was the other attraction.
The Japanese trading card game was the other big draw at the event.
The Card Geeks
Again, the main attraction for me were the doujinshi circles.
And there’s my friends from Collateral Damage Studios (CDS):
Collateral Damage Studios
CDS is one of the leaders of the local doujin scene, having gathered a great number of talented creators within their circle, as well as putting forth their own publications and organising doujin events.
This year, they’re organising the art competition EXTRAVAGANZA together with NUS Anime Club and NTU’s Visual Art Society. It’s GRAPHITE++ and is part of the Anime Festival Asia’s programme.
As much as I enjoy their moelicious illustrations, what caught my eye this time was their (first?) manga production:
東方天子交友祭 by message2god
It’s a doujin based on the doujin pc soft Touhou Project’s character Hinanai Tenshi (比那名居天子). This manga doujin was done by one of CDS’ artist, Goh Chun Siang. This is the second locally produced doujin, that I believe, is as good as the doujins I saw in Japan.
Doujin Soft Game: Touhou Hisouten Soku 「東方非想天則」
Besides the retail store, there was a gaming corner. Earlier in the day, there was a Princess Vanguard competition. Later, it became a Touhou Hisouten Soku 「東方非想天則」session.
Touhou Hisoten Soku demo
Other than the budding talents, professional artists were also present at A.C.M.E doing their own side projects.
Okita and Chris Ng
Chris Ng from IFS, together with Okita, had a table at A.C.M.E. promoting their self-published artbook and posters.
Just like STGCC, my money went direct to the artists.
Loot from A.C.M.E
The Anime Festival Asia 2009 will be happening soon in another three months. That will be the other event that I’m eagerly looking forward to.
Though Singapore is nowhere near Hong Kong and Taiwan yet, we’re inching closer as the otaku capital in Southeast Asia.