It is precisely because I am in such a mood that I decided to write in here, after... wow, almost two years of silence here? Huh.
Just as my visit to Comic Fiesta yesterday, really, what I wanted is to dig deeper into myself. It is not merely to announce my presence, of being here for the sake of being here.
Let me just be upfront that yesterday, when I initially set foot at the event, I wasn't really 'feeling' it. I didn't feel the excitement that I'd feel in the past years when I was heading to CF, where I would in previous year be so looking forward to the event that I would barely get enough sleep beforehand.
Fast forward to me waiting in line for entry, and what did I felt? I felt.... off. Like, 'wait why am I here?' level off.
Maybe because I'm getting old, and the prospect of the biggest ACG event doesn't excite me as it used to be. That bothered me a bit - why then bother coming out here if I don't feel the same level of excitement as that of those around me?
But then I remembered, well this is COMIC Fiesta. That must be one - if not, the - reason why I keep coming back here despite my constant berate of how the event is handled, right?
And yes, it is really in the comics that I find kindred spirits, a sense of belonging.
Because I realized, what I was really looking for all this time - not only during CF, but other ACG event - is the search for something... real. Something with such honesty that you can't help but admire it. And as much as I enjoyed the other aspect of these events, for me, it is always finding some hidden gem among the comics that kept me coming back.
Really, up to the point of seeing these self published comics at these events (I'll never forget my excitement on finding out that we have our own doujin circles that have been steadily putting out Touhou doujins up to that point) I always view comics as these either cheap funny stuff being put out to appease the lowest common denominator; or these mess of colour and lines that are produced by these crazy and obsessed being who live in a realm that is not understood by us mere mortals... the 'artist'.
So imagine seeing these - dare we say it? - work of art, produced by people from all walk of life, with the intention of self expressing above all else. Say what you will about how indie culture would promote a self-indulgence group of people who are content with producing sub-par work - and I am going to agree that the artists should take criticism to better their work with stride - but there is something empowering and... inspirational about the whole scene of self published comics.
But as much as I love the scene, I felt that I shouldn't be consuming so many empty calories. And for a long time that was exactly what I did, grabbing what looked tasty to my senses, without really thinking deeply on what the 'good stuff' is. And all this while I kept asking myself, what was it that I really wanted from these works? Do I want drawings which blow me away with their technical proficiency? Or masterfully crafted stories that suck you in? Or do I simply just want to support my favourite series and/or artists, without regard to whether it was helpful to either in the long run or not?
And yesterday, while browsing this book, I believe I have found the answer to what was it that I look for in these work of art:
It is works where you can feel the artists giving their all - with the intent of self expression to the best of their extent - and the will to improve their craft. That, I felt, was what I meant when I said I was searching for something 'real'. Work of arts which are so honest that you can't help but feel inspired. 'So can I!'
I really took a gamble with the book - buying this even the artist themselves noted that it's their first time publishing their work in a book form, and so I have no frame of reference before - and admittedly I felt that these artists are idealistic and naive when they talk of words such as 'dreams' and 'passion' at first. But something about the book kept me thinking about it until my eventual purchase of it...
I get the sense that they are honest with what they say, as opposed to just dolling out what might pass as cliché sayings. I believe you can't fake these kind of things - if you are sincere, people will feel it, and they will know it. At least, their words certainly resonated with me, and it restored my ever fluctuating faith in the work of these self published artists.
As much as I might not care about the proper events themselves - no offense to them, it is merely my part of losing interest over time - coming across other work of these self published artists is nothing short of inspirational. They never failed to fill my creative tank, so to speak. At the end of the day, there's always that nagging voice: 'So can I!'