The Star/Asia News Network
Having lived in Shah Alam, Selangor since the 1980s, I have witnessed it blossom from a single traffic light town to a city with multiple malls. Two weekends ago (March 19 and 20) the city’s orderly environment received a creative facelift, courtesy of the Geek Con Malaysia event, held at KDU University College.
Geek Con is a labor of love by a group of local comics fans – spearheaded by Andrew Tan (founder of Batcave Malaysia), Razman Rahman (owner of toy-shop Lil’ Monsters), and Alan Quah (mainstream comic book artist). Buoyed by the success of a smaller-scale event held at Jaya Shopping Mall (in Petaling Jaya, Selangor) in March last year, the trio (with support from friends) were determined to make a more eventful sequel.
According to Tan, it took them just six months to pull everything together. “We think that was a great achievement in itself, having such limited time to plan, organize and run the event. There are certain things we couldn’t do due to the limited time frame and this would be lessons to learn when we decide to plan for the next event,” he said, adding that there are currently no definite plans for Geek Con Malaysia 2017 yet.
Quah added: “We are proud that the content we created was able to reach out to the pop culture community. To witness fans of comics – be it Western or local, collectibles, cosplayers, card gamers, gamers and fan clubs congregate under one roof is a sight to behold.”
Geek Con offered an avenue for local talents to showcase their skills and release their wares. Among the Geek Con-exclusive releases were Chain Link Studios’ Streets Of Red, Lee & friends’ Garaj Komik 3, and Maple Comics’ Scenes Of The Father.
Complementing these works were a host of established local comic artists (Quah, Sheldon Goh, Puppeteer, Muhammad Azhar, Mimi Mashud, etc) and two international names (Gary Choo from Singapore and Garrie Gastonny from Indonesia), who offered art prints and on-the-spot sketches at reasonable rates.
Although Singapore has its own Singapore Toys, Games and Comics Convention (STGCC), Choo found Geek Con to be a good “balance between comics and toys”. As for Gastonny, he likened the positive response to Geek Con to the developments in Indonesia, which hosts three similar events annually.
Besides Western comics, illustrations and merchandise, there were also displays by local entrepreneurs/fan clubs such as Gilaposter KL, Hand Made Object, Rukia’s Plush Heaven, and Lego-related creations/MOCs.
And then there were the cosplayers, of course. Besides Taiwanese cosplay star Misa Chiang, the local cosplayers also made their presence felt. From armored Batman to Zatanna, multiple versions of Spider-Man (and Spider Gwens) to multiple Deadpools, they certainly pumped up the energy at the event. It was only appropriate that they took center stage on the second day, showcasing not only their costumes but also their in-depth knowledge of the characters they cosplayed.
During an interview with Jna (pronounced as Jeena), who cosplayed Spider Gwen, I was impressed by her knowledge of the character, comprehension of the Spiderverse and the original Gwen Stacy. She wasn’t the only one – during the Cosplay Competition aka “Contest of Cosplayers” event, most of the cosplayers showed familiarity with their characters as well.
My past convention visits have always been a mad rush – chasing for events/interviews, hunting for bargains and sourcing for perfect photo opportunities. However, Geek Con turned out to be an entirely different experience. The reunions with fellow collectors that I went to school or traded comics with certainly brought back happy memories. Whether you were an exhibitor, exhibitionist or visitor/customer, Geek Con felt very much like home.
Moving ahead, there are some aspects of the event that could be improved. If I were to sum up Geek Con, it would be “order in chaos”. There were just too many things (cosplayers/events/conversations/creative ideas) happening at the same time but at least they were all geared towards promoting the geek fraternity in Malaysia.
In terms of publicity, it would have helped to have more media and social media coverage. Next was the location – a venue in the heart of Kuala Lumpur or Petaling Jaya would have been much more convenient for attendees. This request was reinforced by the lack of amenities such as food stalls, ATMs and payment solutions.
While there is room for improvement, that should not detract from the fact that this was a pretty successful event.
Kudos to the organizers, the entertaining cosplayers, and everyone who attended this domestic comics milestone!