A “by fans for fans” kinda thing

20 December 2009 at 8:19 pm (Thoughts) (, )

Quite by accident, I found out that the Comics Fiesta was going to be in Sunway Pyramid this weekend, and I pondered whether to go or not. As a general rule, I avoid shopping malls like the plague on weekends, public holidays and Jusco member days. So it was pretty uncharacteristic of me to decide to get myself out of the door, knowing that I would be heading straight smack into the hellish depths of a shopping mall on a weekend.

I did it anyway. I felt that it was an event worth going to, if only to assuage my curiosity about how it had evolved over the years. I wanted to see the quality of stuff out there as well, and I wanted to see if I could find anything there that could help with my Japanese-language immersion process.

Much as I had all these things I hoped to achieve, I wasn’t sure what to expect, really. The last time I went to a Comics Fiesta was way back when it was still held in Sungei Wang. Admission was free then. This time, there was going to be an RM15 entry fee.

Parking in the complex was pretty hellish, of course, but that goes for any shopping mall in the Klang Valley on weekends. I did get lucky, and found a spot within 15 minutes, which put me in a good mood.

But there were no signages at all pointing to the venue, and now that Sunway Pyramid has become quite collossal, I couldn’t find the place even though I asked for directions from Pyramid employees. A few strategically placed buntings would have helped the lost puppies, and perhaps even get the general mall-thronging crowd to attend. It’s RM15 per head—why not try to get as many people in there as possible? But I’ve dealt with shopping malls before (a real pain), and perhaps there were restrictions on the placement of publicity materials on the premises and things like that. A pity.

Luckily, I saw cosplayers making their way to the venue, and I followed a huge, dangerous-looking axe bobbing around in the crowd in front of me like a beacon. Perhaps there should be cosplayers taking turns perambulating the mall and bringing people back to the event like the Pied Piper leading children off to the mountains.

The place itself was buzzing. There was a palpable excitement in the air. All the cosplayers in their finery were posing for pictures, huddling around each other, helping to fix each other’s costumes, and generally having a good time. Inside the hall, there was stuff going on on-stage, there was a huge sales area where artists were plying their wares—drawings, postcards, amigurumi, button badges. The quality ranged. A majority of it looked homemade, which explained the very reasonable prices. They made nice keepsakes. However, there were some very impressive works on display as well. One in particular was by a figurine maker. Forgot to note down his name. Gorgeous, gorgeous figurines. I should have taken a photo but I was too busy gawking at the main figurine on display.

I was happy to see the potential in that room, and how such a small community was able to put together an event like that. It may not have been the most professional event, but it certainly had heart. It had a serious, practical side, too—the organisers had arranged for professionals from the industry to come talk shop. Very nice move.

It certainly has grown from its Sungei Wang days—the MCs on stage were pretty amusing, and the quality of works I saw in the artists’ booth area was promising (a little samey and copycat-ish, some of them, but still quite good). I didn’t find anything for my Japanese-language immersion process, but I already guessed that was going to be a long shot anyway.

My beef (being the armchair critic, there’s got to be some beef, right?) was with the layout of the hall. It needed a major overhaul. First off, the way things were arranged, the hall felt just a bit too big. Walking in at first, I thought things didn’t seem like it was set up yet. The entrance area felt a bit like tumbleweed land. A bit of a void. There seemed to be a real drop in energy right there; after enjoying the atmosphere outside in the foyer, it felt a bit of a letdown. There just seemed to be too much empty space—like they could have put in 20 more booths in there, but they couldn’t find 20 vendors. Definitely a layout issue, because if they had arranged the entrance area in a way that would retain an ongoing buzz there, it would have set a different first impression. The first impression is the impression that matters, after all. The “breathing space” for those who’ve had enough of the razzle dazzle should be at the other end of the hall, not at the entrance.

Still, I have to say it wasn’t too bad an outing for half an afternoon. I’d be keen to see the direction the Comics Fiesta takes. It could go big, or it could stay small. I personally would love to see it stay small but get increasingly more polished. Stick with the stuff that works and improve the flaws that make it look amateurish (like the layout issue). It’s the microscopic details that when done right, no one actually notices, but when it’s done wrong, it’s glaringly obvious.

So, we’ll have to see what the fans will do for the fans next.

Everyone was glad to see Alphonse (Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood) at the do.

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