Thursday, October 1, 2015

E100: A Brief History of Comics in Malaysia [Devil Comics Entertainment]

We will go over the history and evolution of Malaysian comics as an independent literary form representing Malaysian culture over specific periods of time. We will teach you about Malaysian society and the need for people to create and allowing us to appreciate the power of imagination as a force for change.

During the Malaysian Games & Comics Convention 2012, Malaysian comic book historian Muhamad Azhar Abdullah shared the history of comics within Malaysia between 1920 and 2004. Beginning in the 1920s, the Malaysian newspapers began producing comics with a single panel. The first Malaysian stories concerned about the humorous happenings of daily life. These stories were related to local villages and simple town life. The medium began within Malaysian newspapers with only one panel before evolving into a three-panel comic strip during the 1950s.

Since the arrival of television, comics provided escapism in the form of detective, police, as well as gangster stories. The comic strips had a much more Western influence during the 1950s as there was more room to tell a story. With the war going on in Vietnam and the Civil rights movements in the 60s and 70s, Malaysian storytelling styles were shaped by protest songs. The three panel strip evolved into a single page and later into the comic book. The comic medium emerged as a one page story bringing other genres including horror, sci-fi, and romance to attract a larger audience. The romance comics were heavily influenced by Bollywood films aimed at attracting a female audience. 

By the 1980s Malaysian comics were primarily aimed towards a male audience expanding and becoming more diverse which led to the first Malaysian anthology comic called Apazine. During the end of the decade, Datuk Lat published Malaysia’s first graphic novel called Mat Som in 1989 leading to more graphic novels during the next decade.

During the 2000s many comics were self-published and short-lived as competition increased within the Malaysian market. The current market consists of scattered readers, who enjoy various styles of comics from Western comics like Marvel and DC Comics to Japanese Anime and Manga.