Rediscover Brunei Darussalam through the eyes of the People
Editor's Note: I remember weekends back in the 90's. I grew up in Kuala Belait, and with most of the extended family based in the Muara district (or "Bandar" as we KB folks would say), many of my weekends were spent in Bandar. I hung out with my cousins, I ate at Thien Thien, and I would visit comic book shops - where a lot of my allowance was spent. As such, it would be absolutely accurate to say that I have a soft spot for comic book shops. On that note, it is with great pleasure that we feature Fanboys Infinite (FI) in this post. Check them out for all your comic, collectible and other pop culture related needs. Let's get to know Khairul Sabir (KA) and Haslan Haji Ali (HA) from FI.
When did your interest for comics begin?
KA: My earliest memories of comic books were my exposure to superheroes as a four year old. The first superhero I remember seeing was Adam West's Batman on TV, that show, along with BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES from the Nineties created a lasting impact. Characters like Spider-Man, X-Men and especially Superman were a childhood mainstay. Shortly after I was exposed to comic books, but I didn't fully commit until I was about fifteen years old. I used to save my lunch money every day just so to be able to buy some comics from Bluestone, a now-defunct comic book store that used to be located in the Gadong area.
HA: For myself, it started back in the mid-Seventies (in London where I was raised) also with the BATMAN classic TV show that was being shown in syndication on British TV, which led me to buying my first comic books, namely JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA VOL. 1 #100 (“The Unknown Soldier of Victory”) and DETECTIVE COMICS VOL. 1 #457 (“There Is No Hope In Crime Alley!”). And, thus, began my decades-long fascination with books in general and comic books in particular.
How has it developed throughout the years?
KA: In recent years, I have been more interested in the graphic novel medium, comprised of stories which tend to be more philosophically challenging and cover more mature ground. There are stories that are commentaries on real-world issues and character-driven arcs that are not just about punches being thrown, but also contain life lessons behind every page.
HA: I feel that the very first JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA comic book I ever bought had played a definitive role in my fascination with the Golden Age of comics as well as challenging myself to figure out new and interesting ways of telling a story, which helps, being an amateur writer and all. As such, although I do read the newer stuff, I prefer immersing myself with stories published during the Eighties as it was around this time that comic book stories really started to mature and was no longer just for kids in general. Case in point, the release of both BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley and WATCHMEN by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in the mid-Eighties led to the grim and gritty style of storytelling that has taken decades to undo and whose influence can be felt in recent live action films in general and DC live action films in particular, none more so apparent than in BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE.
Share with us some of your favourites.
KA: My top three comic runs of all time and in no particular order are: SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING by Alan Moore et al; GREEN LANTERN by Geoff Johns et al; and WATCHMEN by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
HA: I will read anything written by Alan Moore, David Mack, Grant Morrison, J. M. DeMatteis, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, Kevin Maguire, Kurt Busiek, Mark Waid, Neil Gaiman, Roy Thomas, and Warren Ellis. I also have a very soft spot for Jack Kirby’s plethora of work with both Marvel Comics from the Sixties and DC Comics from the Seventies, and especially Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani’s seminal work on DC Comic’s DOOM PATROL. Art-wise, I simply adore the works of Alex Ross, Dave Gibbons, Dave McKean, David Mack, Frank Quitely, Kevin Maguire, and Richard Case, just to name a few. My top three favourites are ASTRO CITY by Kurt Busiek et al, DOOM PATROL by Grant Morrison et al, and PLANETARY by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday.
Tell us about Fanboys Infinite.
KA: Fanboys Infinite was officially established on 8th September 2012, and was born out of the need for a comic book specialty store in the country. It initially started as a collectibles store, but pivoted towards a comic book store that also carried collectibles.
HA: I only joined the company a year later after its official establishment, and a week after I left my previous company where I had been under their employ for more than twenty years. It was a timely decision as we were able to focus more on achieving our corporate objectives, and led to our meteoric expansion from our old premises to a newer and larger one the following year after I had joined. That allowed us to better cater to our ever-growing customer base by increasing our inventory as well as hosting annual in-store events like “Free Comic Book Day (FCBD)” and “Re:Boot Camp”, both of which are annual pro-reading initiatives that we have organised over the years. Recently, we have been participating in a lot of pop-up events like the recent “Collectibles Conclave v. Books @ The Souq” event. Such events allow us to inculcate public awareness that we are here to fulfill their comic book, collectible and pop culture needs. Additionally, we have also tied up with local and foreign business affiliates in order to incite and fuel a resurgent collecting community to reach newer heights.
How has the response been for Fanboys Infinite?
FI: Response towards Fanboys Infinite is reflective of an ever-changing market mindset - as more people get into comics, we sell more of those. In comparison, the collectibles market is too vast for people to keep up with.
How is the present community in the local scene?
FI: Our core business are our members and loyal patrons. They are always the first movers in supporting all our events and whatnot, be it movie premieres or in-store functions. That is why we believe that building and sustaining a collecting community is paramount to the company’s continuous success.
Any special shoutouts?
FI: Fanboys Infinite would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one who have supported us from the beginning. We will continue to do everything that is humanly possible to ensure that your respective comic, collectible and pop culture needs are met in a more efficient, effective and economical manner.
Editor's Note: In this feature, we chat with Mark Jay from GTXperiment. He has Brunei roots, enjoys movies, working out, video games, and when he isn't studying, he can be found in the studio with the band. Follow their journey on Instagram and Facebook, and check them out on YouTube.
When and why did you start playing drums?
I started playing the drums about 12 years ago. Why? Don't really have the answer, I just really liked it when I picked it up as a hobby and as I got older it grew in me.
Who is your favourite band?
Can't choose one...I have too many haha. E.g. 30STM, The Used, Paramore, Justin Timberlake and Coldplay.
Who are your current musical influences?
Current musical influences now would be Imagine Dragons, Darren Ashley and Tori Kelly.
Who is GTXperiment?
GTXperiment is made out of four people. We are a KL based band who like to bend rules and infuse genres. There's Daryll, frontman of the band and main singer. Jude, guitars, back up vocals. Clinton on keyboard, and also back up vocals. Then there's me. I play the drums.
Tell us about some highlights from your musical journey so far.
We had quite a lot of gigs since last year. The most recent one was opening for Sam Willows on March 5th. We did a few charity gigs too. But the biggest gig we had so far was opening for Girls Generation in the F1 after party in Sepang 2015.
Is GTXperiment currently involved in any projects?
Yes we are, we are currently working with Coleman malaysia to make a 360 music video in Malaysia. Really excited for its release. And also we have our own project which is our first album, it is still under production, it's half way there, most probably done by end of July.
What is the music scene like in Kuala Lumpur compared to Brunei?
Well, there is a huge difference and to be fair Malaysia music scene started out much much earlier than Brunei and they had more exposure then and even now. Brunei music scene is really small and there isn't much exposure for the local musicians in Brunei which is sad because there are talented musicians in Brunei, but they don't really have a place to showcase their talent, sometimes they do but its limited.
Is there something you'd like to do more of in the future?
Defiantly touring. Always wanted to go for a tour as a band haha. And of course write more songs and enjoy what I do!
Press Release: Curtin graduates should be proud of graduating from a top university, says Vice-Chancellor.
Miri – 28 April 2016 – All graduates of Curtin University should take pride in graduating from a university that is recognised as being among the top two percent in the world, having progressed more rapidly in major international rankings than any other Australian institution in recent years.
This was highlighted by Vice-Chancellor of Curtin University, Professor Deborah Terry, when addressing the graduating classes of 2015 from the Faculty of Business and Humanities and Faculty of Engineering and Science of Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) here recently.
Curtin Sarawak is Curtin University’s largest international campus offering Curtin courses and degrees identical to those of its Australian parent. It further provides an undifferentiated student learning experience and Curtin’s strong student learning support mechanisms.
Professor Terry added that Curtin University’s recent achievements have been many, including Australian federal government approval of the Curtin Medical School; launch of Cisco’s Internet of Everything Innovation Centre, only the eighth such centre in the world; membership of edX, the prestigious global consortium of universities established by Harvard and MIT to deliver online courses to students all over the world; and major new partnerships to enhance students and research opportunities with Hockey Malaysia and Jimmy Choo.
She also commended Curtin Sarawak for some of its recent achievements, such as the establishment of the Curtin Sarawak Graduate School to advance postgraduate education; being the first foreign branch campus to host the National Engineering Symposium and the first institution in Malaysia to host the Global Communication Project involving 15 universities worldwide; and the establishment if strategic partnerships with the National Sports Institute, Sarawak Energy and the Sarawak Agriculture Department.
She went on to say that Curtin’s reputation benefits hugely not only from the reputation and profile of Curtin Sarawak but also from the achievements of its graduates, citing the examples of graduates mass communication graduates Keeshaanan Sundaresan and Renee Loretta Foong, and mechanical engineering graduate Chukuwuma Menakaya and chemical engineering graduates Lee Ren Jie, Lim Shih Chiang, Sam Tze Mun and Loo Ying Ting.
Keeshaanan has been active in the world of sports writing since 2011 and is now Chief Editor of the sports news website FourthOfficial.com while Foong is a newscaster for Radio Television Malaysia.
Chukuwuma now works in New York where he is a global affairs researcher for the Peace Island Institute and the United Nations, while Lee, Lim, Sam and Loo were winners of the international Honeywell UniSim Design Challenge, a first for a Malaysian team.
Commenting on Curtin’s role in Malaysia, Professor Terry said she was very proud that the university’s mission to produce graduates of global calibre aligns closely with the country’s aspirations to build a skilled and educated workforce in order to support economic growth.
She added that in Sarawak, its courses, research and campus community work help to build the social and economic fabric of the state, including helping to meet the manpower and technical requirements of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).
Professor Terry also said that as the graduates make their way out of university life, they are in esteemed company, joining nearly 210,000 Curtin graduates from more 165 different countries in Curtin’s diverse alumni network.
Belle the musical was held from the 1st to the 3rd of April at Jerudong International School Arts Centre. I did not know what to expect. I went in with an open mind and heart, and I was blown away.
Photo Credits: Faiq Airudin @faiqairudin
A notable standout for me was none other than Nabilah Hamid who played the role of Belle. She carried the role of Belle very well and her voice captured my attention each time she sang. Another one would be the dancer and choir group. I enjoyed them as individuals with their unique styles. They flow very well together, dancing in sync. The other cast members played the role of their characters very well too: Lumiere played by local comedian Zainal Bostaman, Beast played by Kevin Cheong, Babette played by Ummi Aisyah Binti Mohammad Salim and Cogsworth played by A'aqil Ahmad.
It was amazing to see a Disney classic translated into a muscial. It was extra special as this was a local production. I am sure the audience was pleased with the show as there was laughter and applause at the end of every act. There was a boy seated in front of me. He was initially not fond of the loud sound and was a little scared of the Beast. But by the second half of the show, he was hooked! His excitement grew as the show went on. That to me was what made the show special.
I am impressed with the local talents that were showcased in the musical. The acting, dancing, costumes and make-up were impressive. The one thing that could have been improved was the sound quality, in which there were inconstancies with the volume. Belle the Muscial brought out the little kids in all of us, including the little kid in me. All in all, the show was top notch!
Here are a few words from Mardi and Amy from Relentless, Nabilah Hamid who played Belle and Kevin Lo who played Gaston in the muscial.
Mardi Hedus @smartz2102 & Amy Cheong @amycheong
It’s been a few weeks since our final show of Belle and we're so happy that people are still talking about it. Belle is our third musical production. Our first was 'Enchanted Forest' in 2013 and second was 'Poppins' in 2015. Organising and producing a musical on a large scale is a Relentlesss' community project we plan on doing annually.
Belle has been the most challenging in terms of production costs. This year we went bigger and better with our venue, props, set design and costumes.
With Belle, we wanted to show Brunei that local talents are capable of pulling off a high quality show while at the same time show our cast and crew what is possible in Brunei with some good old fashioned hard work. We often hear the phrase 'but this is Brunei' when things seem impossible and we wanted to prove to everyone that, that shouldn't be the case.
We've been so lucky to have had the privilege of working with an amazing cast and crew throughout the whole process. As there are only two of us managing everything from directing and choreography to costume and set design and program book design, it can get very stressful but our cast has been extremely understanding and supportive. We definitely could not have done it without each and every one of our cast, crew and volunteers.
Our aim is to build and create an industry in Brunei where performance artists can perform, do what they love and are passionate about full time.
We are very proud and happy of what we have achieved with Relentless so far and we will keep on going and doing our part to help the industry in Brunei grow.
We will be starting preparation for our next musical soon.
Nabilah Hamid @nabilahhamiddd
My experience with this musical has been a rollercoaster ride. It was so exciting to be doing something that I haven’t done in a long time. I was genuinely terrified and a nervous wreck throughout the whole process.
Everyone in the cast and chorus are so unbelievably talented and have so much passion for music, theatre, dancing, acting and film. I really questioned my ability and why I was even there to begin with. However, the amount of love and support I got was tremendous! These individuals are not shy to share their talents and aid wherever they can. They challenged and encouraged me to grow as a performer and I feel that my performance was dedicated to all of them.
It was absolutely incredible to be part of the musical. I spent so many hours with new friends, creating something together with them. Everyone formed a bond. It made it very difficult to go back to regular day-to-day life. But for now, I am just hopeful that the future will hold more opportunities for myself and others to showcase and explore their talents.
Kevin Lo @kevinljs
It was a humbling experience working with so many amazing talents, especially the dancers. Seeing the production fuse the Relentless trademark dancing with good old fashioned theatre drama certainly made the whole experience feel fresh and on the edge.
It's a total privilege to be cast as Gaston. Beauty and the beast is a tale as old as my childhood and the scenes with Gaston and Lefou were always my favorite. Getting the chance to fill Gaston's boots was indeed a treat for me and I delightfully hope it was a treat for those watched it.
It is my dream that one day actors / performers like myself would be able to sustain a living performing full time in Brunei. The industry certainly exists but not yet in the phase where it is a feasible career for many people. I believe we can all create this possibility together and bring the exciting world of theatre into the culture of our great nation.
I want to thank Relentless Brunei for creating this amazing platform both for the performers and for the audience without which there would not exist Belle The Musical. I urge other local creatives like Amy and Mardi of Relentless Brunei to summon their courage to follow suit. Courage is not overcoming fear, it is the decision to do it anyways in spite of the fear.
Contact: +6737186225 or +6738243222
"At Curtin, we try our best to help realize your dreams. From providing scholarships to improving access for the disabled, we are committed to bring out the best in you! That’s why we earned 5 stars in inclusiveness from QS Top Universities Rankings."
"Our state of the art facilities help lecturers and students perform at their very best. That’s why #Curtin is ranked 5 stars in facilities by QS Top Universities Rankings. View the #CurtinSarawak campus map at http://www.curtin.edu.my/CurtinSarawak/map.htm"
For more information about Curtin University Sarawak, visit http://bit.ly/AskAboutCurtinSarawak.
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