Comics Star Awards 2012

You’ve been honing your skill for the past dunno-how-many-years and you’re all ready to show the world what you’re capable of. It’s time to exit that training cave of yours! Here’s a competition that might help you fulfil your dreams of having your talent acknowledged!

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Find out more details at:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ComicsStar
Official Website: http://www.comicsstar.com/

If you’re curious about Tencent AC, here is their website: http://ac.qq.com/

And some participants’ work that has already been submitted: http://ac.qq.com/Events/original2012Entries

AND YES! In case you’re worried about the deadline, which is in about 1 month’s time, here is what the organisers have to say about it:

Hi! Yup, closing date for submission is 30th Sep. But you may not need to submit the whole story, A few chapters are also welcome. Main objectives of the competition are to search for potential talents and artwork that can be further develop.

— Travis Low on Comics Star Awards FB Page —

And if you’re wondering if you have to create a new account?

 for submission, you can register an acct to submit yourself or send the artwork tocomicsstarawards@gmail.com, we can submit for you on behalf.

— Comics Star Awards —

If you still have queries, do head over to their FB page and ask away! Good luck!

moon

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Interview: Sir Fong aka Otto Fong

Hiya! Today I’m gonna be doing an interview with Otto Fong, the dude who is behind the wildly popular Sir Fong science series that has taken Singapore by storm.

When I first met him, he looked stern like a no-nonsense teacher. Having been a student who pretty much held her teachers in awe, his presence was commanding to say the least. But after getting to know him on Facebook & interacting with him at my Comics Xchange event last year, I found that he really is a very likeable guy with a great sense of humour. =D

Well, I hope you guys enjoy reading all about Otto Fong and his journey as an illustrator. If there is one thing I’ve learnt from him during this interview, it’s to treat your muse well. Don’t take it for granted!


Tell us something the public doesn’t know about Otto.

I find eating a waste of time. If I could, I’d rather pop a food pill than interrupt my drawing to go out for lunch.

How did you get started in illustration and why a Science series?

I was in China understudying a famous film director Zhang Jianya (his latest tv series, “Journey To The West”, is showing on tv this year). As early as 1996, Zhang wanted to make a live-action movie of the popular Monkey King mythology. Unfortunately, the investors ran out of money and the entire crew was suddenly in limbo.

As his assistant, I was illustrating storyboards for him and that reignited my childhood passion for drawing. I decided not to waste time waiting, and drew/inked my own comic story of the Monkey King. Surprisingly, a book editor from Beijing liked it and published my first comic book.

I returned to Singapore and became a science teacher. That re-ignited my passion for science and science fiction stories. I enjoyed using my comics to educate and entertain my students.

So when the opportunity arrived, I combined the love for drawing with my love of science, and created “Sir Fong’s Adventures In Science”. Book 1 did very well when launched at the first Singapore Toy Game and Comic Convention, so I kept growing the series by combining parts of the science syllabus with my characters.

It’s tough being a creative in Singapore. How did you navigate that path to your success today?

It is indeed difficult to be creative in Singapore. Singaporeans already have a formula for relative success and many prefer to follow the well-trodden paths. Being creative can even be seen as a threat to that formula by some. Fortunately, there is a minority of creative people who managed to be successful.

I actively sought out some of them in the fields of comics (such as Johnny Lau, the creator of “Mr Kiasu”) and science (such as Singapore Science Fellows Professor Lui Pao Chuen and Professor Leo Tan) for collaboration and advise. So, collaboration is important to me.

I think another key ingredient is to leverage on one’s own unique strengths. My passion and strengths lie in education, science and technology. As a teacher and an ex-student, I was keenly aware that our science education is flawed. We are strong in knowledge teaching and test scores, but not life-long thinkers and users of science.

Our textbooks drew heavily from the Western sciences and scientists, and we tend to neglect our own role models and stories in science. This is where my skills, knowledge and passion could be used in a unique way: to inspire a new generation of science-savvy young SE Asians. I believe it is a worthy cause and something that our society can benefit from. Young people, teachers and parents are excited and shared my vision – and supported my comic books both emotionally and rationally.

Adaptability is also important. I took 3 years to master digital art myself, as I find the medium has greater flexibility, ease of use and freedom. Vector drawings are very different from traditional drawing, almost like twisting wires sometimes, but it serves me well when printing and publishing became digital.

Technology is now a huge driving force in reading habits, and many bookstores are closing because of that. So I am creating Sir Fong ebooks on the iPad platform. But, since the books are committed to science education, my ebook of Book 1 contains science games that compliment and reinforce science concepts.

It must have been difficult getting your work out in the market initially, how did you grab your target audience or distributor’s attention?

After my book was published, I contacted my ex-colleagues and friends who are science teachers. I took every opportunity to speak at school assemblies. I spoke extensively to the press about my vision.

At first, sales were slow, and it took me some time to get used to speaking to hundreds. But I kept speaking, modifying my presentations and planned for the next book. A few bookstores gave Book 1 a chance – fortunately, the science syllabus never goes out of style, and my books enjoy a longer shelf life. After a couple of years, more schools hear of my books and more Singaporeans trust that my commitment is serious. I spoke with greater confidence and clarity. By Book 3, even Singapore Science Centre bookstore is carrying my books.

Have you considered going into other types of genre?

I have explored drawing other genres with one-off collaborations such as Liquid City Vol 1 and commercial tie-ins. My latest non-Sir Fong comic book was a collection of short stories based on the struggles of single-parent families.

The comic, titled “Balances”, was commisioned by HELP Family Service Centre in 2010. It took a year to produce, as I had to interview families, then script their stories into comic form. But again, it was meaningful for me if children of single-parent families can draw strength and inspiration from the comic book. Working on the comic also forced me to improve on my drawing skills, and you can see a leap in drawing style from Book 3 to 4.

I was also rather proud of another commission, an online comic strip called
“Star Child”. It was about a foetus whose mother was so kiasu, she sent a robot into her womb to tutor the foetus. Foetus’s other friends include his dad’s sperms, which are constantly dealing with the disappointment that the egg was already taken. It was unfortunate that the project did not last.

But each Sir Fong requires a creation period of six months and promotion of the rest of the year, so I have to be picky on other projects.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Another comic artist, Hup (Lee Hup Kheng of New Paper) advised that I draw from my life. So I looked at what got me excited as a kid: sci-fi and Doraemon are just two of my favorite areas and Sir Fong comics are strongly influenced by them.

Book 3 has a plot about a little girl Abby and her new pet dog. The story came out of my fear that, one day, instead of a bird flu or swine flu, there will be a dog flu pandemic. I cannot imagine hundreds and thousands of dog owners, including myself, having to give up our beloved pet for extermination. So I created Book 3 in 2010. Can you believe that in 2011, the first case of a mutated virus was found in a dog in Australia? That was 8 months after I’d completed Book 3!

What’s a piece of advice will you give to an illustrator who is just starting out?

A new illustrator will face a lot of negativity and indifference. Sometimes, one might blame himself/herself when the books do not fly off the bookstores’ shelves. Sometimes, a casual remark overheard somewhere can shatter the confidence.

See the pursuit of a career as the pursuit of the love of your life. Would you give up if he/she ignored you at first? Or would you find a different approach? It takes time for people to trust your work, to fall in love with your work. The only way to fail is to give up and stop trying. Don’t become an illustrator for the money – that’s like marrying someone you don’t love for his/her riches. Be committed that you will draw through thick or thin, for better or worse, riches and rags, health and sickness. Be so committed that you will part only in death. That’s the only way to live as an illustrator.

Don’t ever take your drawing muse for granted. Betray her/him, he/she can find another illustrator easily, but you would have lost the love of your life.

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Otto will be holding court at Booth G29 at the STGCC this coming weekend so don’t forget to drop by and say hi! XD

moon

Putting a story together

Today is a sad day. Tony Scott, best known as the director for “Top Gun”, “Beverly Hills Cop II” and “Days of Thunder”, died in what was apparently a suicide jump from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in California.

RIP.

Okay, today’s post is gonna be on how to put your story together with research. “RESEARCH?!” You may be thinking right now, “What a tedious notion.”

Ah, but research is vital to every piece of writing you are going to do. It doesn’t HAVE to be boring or mean being stuck in the library all day long (although I wouldn’t mind that) so I’m gonna list a few methods where you can get the necessary information.

Sign Up for Classes

What better way to describe the fight scenes than to ACTUALLY experience it for yourself? Sign up for martial arts or even sword fighting classes where you can fully appreciate the art and physics of fighting for your life. XD

In fact, Lorna Suzuki, author of the IMAGO series, has this to say:

“I’ve had a number of writers who do not do martial arts tell me they’ve studied the fight scenes in my novels to help write theirs, + 1 of my students is a writer. She has no experience with fighting or weapons, so I’ve been training her. She found it really helped to have practical experience to write these scenes!”

Talk to People

I’ve mentioned in my previous post that it’s useful to speak with different kinds of people, so get out there to meet new people! Speak to the cleaner who tidies your office every morning or banter with the hawker who makes your lunch. Everyone has their own story – a tale which you can base your next creation on. Even fantasy characters start with mundane backgrounds before they become great.

Tony Scott is a wonderful example because he based his characters on role models. In fact, watch this interview that he did end of last year on how he put his movies together.

Watch Videos

Too busy to take classes? No problem! The best thing about our world today is the sheer number of videos on almost every topic we want to know about. Lorna tells me that her particular martial arts style is known as “Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu“. You can easily Google for information or watch demos like the one featuring Lorna below.

PS: Or you can find videos of her Grandmaster Masaaki Hatsumi

READ

It’s really a no-brainer, right? To make your world realistic, you need to be able to know what works and what doesn’t. Yes, you may be creating a different world from the one where we are currently living in but things STILL has to make sense. You can’t conjure your own logic just because you are the creator. Make sure that you know how things work in your universe. Joyce Chng, a SFF writer from Singapore, prepared herself by reading up on wolves, SEA flora and fauna.

Reading is also useful because it gives you new ideas that you can play around. Better than staring at the computer screen trying to come up with an original idea that is not over-influenced by Hollywood, right? XD

So, how do YOU put your story together?

moon

From fan fiction to best-seller?

Hiya guys!

Would you believe it’s AUGUST already? OMGS. Time passes so quickly when you’re procrastinating. LOL.

Oh and you might have heard the news: Fifty Shades of Grey – a book that was born from an erotic fan fiction of the (gasp!) Twilight universe spun by Stephanie Meyers – had outsold all SEVEN of J. K. Rowling’s HARRY POTTER books on Amazon. E. L. James, the author, had effectively cornered the market on “mummy porn” because it contained various exciting scenes of S&M sex between a drop-dead gorgeous rich guy & a impossibly-naive girl.

Now I’ve personally contributed to the author’s obscene million earnings by buying E. L. James’ “steamy” book on Kobo, but far from being intrigued like the “Porn Mummies”, I stopped reading Book 1 halfway coz it reminded me too much of Bella and Edward.  You might want to read the reviews on this book, if you don’t understand why there is so much fuss over it. I’m not going to bash it here, coz enough of it had been done around the web. My point to bringing this title is to show you that even a fan fiction can turn out to be a hit with your audience. E. L. James originally wrote it as a fan fiction, but due to its overly erotic content, she re-posted it on her website at FiftyShades.Com and later re-wrote it as an original piece.

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The world is bigger than you think

So you might have been writing fan fiction so far and even gotten a lot of positive reviews for it, but have you ever considered moving on from building on other people’s worlds to building one of your own? Sounds daunting, huh? Considering Tolkien not only built Middle Earth from the ground up, he also created the elvish language for it. Heh. Well, you’re not alone. I’m no expert myself and I do struggle with trying to make up a world that will fit my story. In fact, I worry that I may have too few details to lure my readers and I believe that’s a common problem that besets us writers. But build it slowly, no one said you had to build it in an instant. Do your research. Google is an excellent tool to have. Speak to people of various races, inclinations, religious beliefs, gender, hobbies, occupation etc. You’ll be surprised just what are the kind of people you will meet and who will inspire your work.

Why, just the other day, I met a retired doctor who told me all about the joys of watching Harness Racing in Australia. And I’ve never even heard of that sport before I met him. Richard Castle from the ABC dramedy “Castle” even follows a police detective around so he can base his latest book on her! Mukul Deva, a best-selling author from India, also does his research by speaking to people who have the necessary knowledge to further his plot. So really, there is so much to be explored out there in the world out there.

So leave the comfort zone of your fan fiction and write something that truly belongs to you, and not someone else.

PS: Before I forget, I want you guys to read this interview by Bestseller Labs on Lorna Suzuki. She’s the author of IMAGO CHRONICLES, which is also optioned for movie production! Impressive, ne!

moon

Ogilvy & Mather looking for manga artists

Hiya guys!

Ogilvy & Mather is looking for manga artists who can draw in the style as shown in the video below. Best if you can do animation as well! If you’re interested, please email Eunice at eunice.ng@ogilvy.com with your portfolio & rate card.

 

Best of luck!

moon

AMWC updates

Hiya guys~! As you might have noticed…I don’t blog here very frequently. =x

What I do, however, is update the AMWC Facebook page with links and news that you guys can check out. =D

So if you don’t find anything here…chances are…I’ve updated the Facebook page with something so please do drop by from time to time to see what’s new in the world of writing and manga. Sometimes I will highlight artists’ websites so ya all can learn from one another and perhaps…make new friends? =D

Have fun!

PS: If you have any particular topic you want me to write about, do feel free to email me at aspiringmw@gmail.com or make a comment below. Ciao!

moon

What have you accomplished in 2011?

Hiya guys! It’s a brand new year in 2012! I trust that you guys have been well and that you’ve been continuously working on your passion (e.g. writing and creating great manga/comics). =)

2011 had been a wonderful year for me…mainly coz I finally got down to doing something that has been on my mind since I first set up AMWC on SGcafe. Yup, the Comics Xchange that took place at the Goodman Arts Centre in Singapore! If you’re curious about the outcome, well…the turnout was unexpectedly low but some people did turn up for my seminar and my speakers were fabulous! A lot of knowledge were shared and new friends were made so it wasn’t all that bad despite the small crowd. I also met Otto Fong, who really is one of the coolest dudes I ever have had the fortune to come across! He too has had a very productive and successful year where his comics are concerned. You guys should really attend his talks as and when he conducts them coz he is never boring. =D

We also had Benjamin Ang (the Singaporean dude who was hired by Marvel Comics) and Sonny Liew (need I say more? Hehe) share their experiences with the young participants, many of whom are just starting out but are not sure whether their talents can take them far. =)

On the writing side, I’m…ahem ashamed to say I was so busy with real life that I didn’t manage to complete my planned sequel to Rainy Skies: Lull before Storm. =x

Yes, yes, I know…bad example. =x

So with this new year, I’m gonna be more organised and make it a point to complete it. *determined look*

I also managed to visit Taiwan for the first time~! I documented the highlights of my trip at Tourist Kitty so do visit it and let me know your thoughts! Would really love to hear about the recommended places to travel to so I can start planning for the new year! Hehe.

And yes, to kickstart the new year, I have a little something for you! A FREE webinar by Aktive Learning on “How to Publish Your Book in Singapore“. It’s a one-hour webinar on 28 Jan from 10am to 11am. Replays are available for those who cannot make it for this date so be sure to register your email to get the lowdown on how to get your novel/manga/comics published in Singapore~!

Once you’ve signed up with them, they will email you a brief guide on how to get yourself published as well as their submission guidelines should you want to consider them as a publisher. Although I have to say…their specialization seems to be more of educational titles. But if you’re planning to be like Otto Fong and produce educational comics in say…Mathematics, then this could be a golden opportunity. =)

Have fun and oh, do feel free to share what you managed to accomplish in 2011 in the comments. We sometimes forget the achievements we had managed to gain but it’s important to remember them and record them in your portfolio for all to admire and take note. You never know when someone may just sit up and take notice of your excellent work! =D

moon

See you this Saturday & Sunday at the Comics Xchange~!

Hiya guys! It’s going to be 1st & 2nd Oct soon! And that means the Comics Xchange is going to be upon us soon! =)

The seminars & workshops now have group discounts of 5% for 5 or more people so if you’re still wondering if you should sign up for one of them, grab this chance now. =)

Our seminars & workshops target amateur artists who want to level up their skills in the creative & business arena. The seminars, for example, feature Karen Leong who is an Influential Communications Expert. She will guide participants on how to present themselves in a professional yet influential way so doors of opportunity may open for them. Wu Di from Manga Castle will show how the law of attraction can “attract” people to invest in your passion. =)

Jerry Hinds (ACAS & Niceone Entertainment) & Aravind Menon (Jove Pater Media) will also cover the creative aspects of writing & time-saving art techniques to help boost your current level in producing comics/manga.

So we’re not just focusing on the creative side of comics, we want our participants to be business-savvy too! =) It’s good that you get to do what you love on a regular basis but even better when that passion helps you pay the bills as well. =D

And the bazaar will feature superhero body art by Function Junction, epic lightsaber fight by Fight Saber (see below video), talented artists like Collateral Damage Studios, Comix Pandora, Kelvin Chan & more so you better not miss this event. =D

 

Cheers!

moon

Presenting Comics Xchange 2011!

In case you’ve been wondering where I’ve been in my absence…I’m proud to announce that the brainchild I’ve been working on is finally ready to be born! On October 1 & 2 this coming year end of course. =) I’m co-organising it in conjunction with the Association of Comic Artists Singapore (ACAS) & Story Kitchen to bring you the first ever EDU-FUNTAINMENT event at the Goodman Arts Centre.

Comics Xchange is an event for the creatives by the creatives. There will be seminars, workshops for the kids, a 24 hour comics drawing marathon and even a bazaar to satisfy the shopaholic within you! XD

DATE: October 1 and 2 2011

VENUE: Goodman Art Centre, 90 Goodman Road, Singapore 439053
Find out how to get there by clicking here…

HIGHTLIGHTS
Let’s Talk Comics & Business – CXC Seminar
For the very serious but inexperienced enthusiast, a number of esteemed local speakers from the world of comics, manga and graphic novels will give a series of talks, specific to the subject matter and how it also affects numerous vertical markets. Subjects include everything from the merits of quality writing and draughtsmanship, to the essentials of presentation, publishing, distribution and new digital platforms. Attendees will have a chance to bring along their story and art portfolios to obtain on-the-day critiques and maybe even land a trial assignment.

CXPO Bazaar
For those in search of out-and-out fun! A dedicated artists realm will be the place to go to purchase inspiring local comics and artwork. Focused pop culture retailers will add to the festival feeling, offering generous discounts on leading books, merchandise and apparel. Not forgetting the open invitation to cosplayers, courtesy of CosAsia – Singapore’s premier costume retailer and purveyor of the fever, will have their own special 50+ strong entourage present! The life & souls of any party, the best dressed on the day will have the chance to walk away with top value sponsored prizes, ranging from free books and manga, to posters and movie tickets. Artists’ booths will be made available for rent. Details coming soon.

CXC Captions and Actions Workshops
There are many forms of writing, and few are as unique as comics — the Captions Workshop will teach and demonstrate basic fundamentals of plot building, story structuring and how to develop narrative and character dialogue. For those artists who are curious about how to create their own characters and concepts — the Actions Workshop is just the place to be, sharing potent knowledge on how to generate vibrant story character visuals, and how to integrate them meaningfully as part of a concept.

Captions & Actions Workshops are for anyone age 12 or above (including mature adults!). All classes are devised & conducted by Senior Members & Associates of the Association of Comic Artists (Singapore) (ACAS). Prizes will be given to the best students over the two days, including cutting-edge digital devices that can aid in all aspects of comic creation.

24 Hour Comics Day @ CXC
For the very serious and most proficient comes this incorporated International event – the challenge is to produce a 24-page comic in 24 hours. The event was successfully launched in Singapore last year with 30 participants, and this year it is expected to generate even greater interest. The stories completed will be shortlisted for possible publication in December. This is not a competition, but a challenge for oneself. Uncompleted works are dubbed ‘Noble Failures’, so there is no shame in failure here, because all efforts embrace the spirit of the challenge and remain worthy of celebration. They can be completed after the event and still be considered for publication.

WHO ELSE IS WELCOME?
Cosplayers, family, friends, kids…basically anyone who is interested in the world of comics and manga are welcome to drop by! There is space for everyone. =)

We will release the sale information for the seminars/workshops/booth rentals soon, so do stay tuned to this space! In the meantime, do drop by our Facebook Fan Page or Twitter~! Our website with all the ticketing details will be launched very soon.

So don’t forget to stay tuned! XD

moon