KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — Ever wondered how fast a comic artist can draw?
You can find out first-hand this Saturday at Kinokuniya KLCC as local publisher Maple Comics, founded by Amir Hafizi and Fairul “Roy” Nizam, presents Malaysian comics and comic creators at the inaugural [email protected] event.
[email protected] is part of Kinokuniya’s initiative to showcase Malaysian publishers. Amir says, “They’ve been very kind to invite us to do this event at their bookstore in KLCC. Maple Comics will feature four artists who have published comics with us and are working on future projects. The artists will do a ‘live’ drawing session followed by signing and Q&A.”
The four artists are Fishball (My Giant Geek Boyfriend), Mimi Mashud (Kuala Terengganu in 7 Days, Beijing in 5 Days), Adifitri Ahmad (Taubat Si Tanggang) and Pokcik Fingernailz (Paradigma Guru).
Maple Comics will also launch two new lines at [email protected] – Maple @School and Maple YA!. These lines will run concurrently with the main line of adult comics and non-fiction titles.
“Maple @School will house all titles that utilise the potential of comics as a useful medium in education while Maple YA! will focus on younger audiences. ‘YA’ stands for Young Adults so the comics will be more or less following the shoujo (young girls comics) and shonen (young boys) specification found in Japanese manga,” says Amir.
In selecting the titles for the new lines, Maple Comics depended heavily on customer feedback and requests. Amir explains, “For Maple @School, we wanted to show how comics can be a powerful tool in education and reach out to different age groups in different stages of learning.
“As the Maple Comics brand is often associated with more adult fare, we believe setting up a separate Maple YA! line specifically for younger readers – with genres like action, drama, romance and themes like ‘coming of age’ – will serve readers in that age group well.”
To differentiate their titles from those of other publishers, such as those focusing on the lucrative primary school market, Maple Comics intends to look beyond that specific age group.
Amir says, “This will also help in dealing with the stigma that comics is just for kids. For example, we are going to publish a title with the KL Shakespeare Players entitled Shakespeare Demystified: Macbeth as well as a book with Putra Business School on some of our business and corporate figures today to illustrate the principles of human governance.”
The Maple YA! titles will be published in 2018. Works in progress include an adventure in a dystopian future, a shoujo-style friendship drama manga as well as re-purposing the existing Taubat Si Tanggang comic as a title for younger audiences.
Amir adds, “Taubat Si Tanggang is one of our best titles about Malaysian folklore in the same shared universe. We believe repackaging it as a young adult title will attract more readers to it.”
After publishing 19 titles in under three years, Maple Comics plans to strengthen distribution. Amir shares that they are currently in talks with Japanese book agents as well as publishers and distributors in South-east Asia to bring their titles to other markets in the region and beyond.
He says, “While we believe the core market should always be here in Malaysia, there is potential for some of the titles to make it overseas. This can pose certain risks as horror stories abound, but you never know until you try.”
Amir and Maple Comics could well be channelling the tagline of cult-favourite sci-fi film Galaxy Quest: “Never give up, never surrender!”