About a week ago I saw a link being promoted on my Facebook feed by Sarah. Intrigued, I clicked on it only to find a rather vague description about an event organised by a group called BubbleFlip calling for local independent artists to rally for their intro session to be held at Austin Chase cafe, The Gardens MidValley, with (surprise surprise!) Sarah as a guest speaker. Not knowing what to expect, I decided to attend the event to find out what it was all about. (They had my attention at ‘Comic Artists’.)
BubbleFlip’s Introduction Session Poster
As it turns out I wasn’t disappointed. Before the event started I managed to acquaint myself with some familiar faces, namely the Yongumi and Comic Fiesta peeps. The organizers, a guy and a girl who shared the same name (Fairuz) were also very friendly.
By the time everyone finished the registration process and got into their seats, it was already one hour past the tentative start-time stated on their event page’s itenary but I didn’t really notice as I was still guzzling my breakfast (BubbleFlip special promotion of free-flow coffee, breakfast platter, and a pastry of your choice for RM13).
In short, BubbleFlip is an initiative started by the Fairuz duo, an experimental project aimed to unite seasoned and aspiring comic artists under the umbrella of a digital content provider – them of course. It’s a lot like an online comic shop where people can download comics at a price. And with the arrival of gadgets such as the iPad and Apple’s Comixology app that works on the iPhone, reading comics digitally does seem like something that’ll probably catch on in the near future. Just look at the hype that it’s already generated.
The best part about BubbleFlip’s proposed ‘online comic shop’ (for lack of a better term) is that the creators of each comic will retain all copyright of their work. What’s more, BubbleFlip aims to liaise comic artists with writers while providing them a workspace and the tools they need to produce comics with the help of MDeC. They also hope that this’ll be a good way to ensure that the content developed by the winners of MDeC’s annual IPCC grant will have more market penetration and staying power. It all sounded really exciting, but sadly they ran out of time to explain further about their concept as Sarah’s talk took up most of that session’s time.
Sarah’s talk was focused around her personal experiences dabbling in the local comics scene from the young age of 14, accompanied with loads of images of people and artworks (and the copious use of the word ‘awesome’). She even showed us a scan of a really sweet fan letter she received! Here’s a summary of some interesting points highlighted during her talk:
- Always ask for a 50% deposit when receiving freelance commissions. There’s usually no qualms about it if the person requesting the job is serious about getting it done. Don’t sell yourself cheap!
- One can think of comics as a career, yes, but it’s more like an RPG Quest where the fun part is levelling up your own skills and learning more about yourself and other people’s character traits.
- There’s a trinity of traits that most potential employers/customers look for in an artist: attitude, artistic skills, and efficiency. Artists that possess all three traits are a rarity, so she advised aspiring artists to have a combination of any two out of the three traits mentioned to pave their way to future jobs. (e.g.: You can be an asshole, but people make exceptions when your art is good and you can complete their stuff faster than others).
- Don’t take rejection too harshly. Most magazines will reject your stuff the first time you send it in (some up to three times!), but they’re just testing your mettle and dedication to get your stuff published.
- The same goes for parental encouragement. They can give you a 10% start-up encouragement bonus but that’s about it. If you’re serious about making a living drawing comics, prove it to them that you have the initiative and positive personality to see you through (on top of the necessary drawing skills).
Most of the people present lingered on much longer after the end of the session. With the promise of more such gatherings in the future, BubbleFlip seems to be set on developing original online content with the help of this intro session’s attendees and hopefully more others.
In a nutshell, this intro session served its purpose – to give potential content providers a rough idea of what they’re all about and get them interested in their project. I honestly hope that BubbleFlip can get their act together because if their venture is successful, it could serve as a good platform for independent comic artists to get their work to the masses without incurring a huge start-up cost. You can find more pictures from the intro session on their Facebook album.
So, if you’re looking for your big break into the Malaysian comics market, this might just be it. You can keep your ears peeled for BubbleFlip’s next session by becoming a fan of their Facebook page here.