Tuesday, June 30, 2015

FRIENDS OF SUPER COOL BOOKS // Irfan Foner of Comichat Group: "A brave comic artist is one who never gives up even after many rejections."

I had a wonderful time at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content this year. (Read about my experience herehere and here.) After I gave my talk on DIY digital publishing, I was introduced to lots of other creative people from around the region who shared similar creative ideas and publishing goals. Last week I featured children’s book author Geckojoy. In this post you’ll hear from Irfan Foner of Comichat Group, a young and dynamic Malaysian with a really passionate dream: to help the comic artists in his community grow and achieve professional success. Here's his story.

— D

Thanks to Irfan Foner for these photos


“My name is Irfan Ramli, and the nickname that I've given myself is Foner. I am the CEO of Comichat Group (sounds like it is a big company, but it's not. Seriously). We started one sunny day in December 2013, with 20 local comic fans gathered around and chatting about their passion, comics. Basically my role is a Literary Agent, focusing on Comics & Illustration.

In my case, or rather, Comichat's, we are a middle man between three parties, the Publishers, the Artists and the Readers. We gather all the amateur Comic Artists and help them to get published. Why is a Literary Agent needed to help them, when they can do it by themselves? It looks simple, but many writers or comic artists have been rejected by publishers. And they never knew why. The fortunate thing is, we know WHY. And we make this our business. Our vision is simple (and this is the reason why I chose to start Comichat), to change our community's perception towards comics.

The first objective of our company was to do something for the local comics industry. We also planned to be a publisher. To publish lots of comics and to have millions of readers. Yeah, daydreaming. Until we found out the truth about becoming a publisher, it is not only about drawing and printing, and we half gave up that idea and looked for something else. But one day, we were invited by our partner back then to follow them around, doing some promotions and selling books in schools. We were so excited and impressed, knowing there was a very big potential market in schools.
Can you spot Irfan? 
(Top photo: middle row, extreme left. Bottom photo: back row, middle)

In March this year, we decided to restructure our company and restate our objectives. We decided to make Comichat a group of companies, with 3 sub-companies under it. They are: Comichat Trading, Comichat Service and Comichat Education/Academy.

Now, we have two main channels to help local comic artists, which we call SUPREME (http://www.supremecomichat.com) and PENCIL (http://www.pencilcomichat.weebly.com). Supreme Comichat is the channel where we allow amateur artists to test their best manuscripts on our platform and battle it out with other artists. Pencil Comichat is a channel where we propose comic projects to publishers. We managed to persuade two non-comics publishers to publish the comics. And it was an achievement for us.

The challenges are so obvious. It's hard to deal with artists who like to work alone, and never care about others, thinking they can survive by themselves and never interested to learn more. With no research, lack of exposure and networking, no information and no experience, it's hard for any new artist to come out with a very good product. Also, lack of survival skills. Most of the artists can make products, but are not good at management.

A single tree can never create a forest. A single comic can never build an industry. Changing people's perception of comics doesn't only come from producing one or two comic books. It comes from making many of them. A brave comic artist is one who never gives up even after many rejections. If you can answer the big WHY, you won't lose so easily.”


Website: http://www.comichat.com.my
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/comichatconsultancy
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/supremecomichat
Email: mycomichat@gmail.com

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Monday, June 29, 2015

All kinds of wonderful bookish stuff that happened last week

________ Just heard on Friday that the book's selling fast but you can still find copies at Kinokuniya, and also on their webstore. Time to go shopping, you! Go go go go go. Read about the Lion City Adventures book launch party here.

________ We recently posted the fourth and last online writing lesson for this year’s Budding Writers Project organised by Marshall Cavendish Education. It’s been a lot of fun sharing these tips. A big "thank you" to Marshall Cavendish Education for letting us be a part of this. You can check out our complete series of articles here:

Lesson #1: How to create an awesome character for your story
Lesson #2: How to write a truly Singaporean bestseller
Lesson #3: How to excite readers and keep them hooked
Lesson #4: How to boost your imagination and get really creative

________ Came across this poster at the Bishan Public Library (Singapore). HEART! That’s our book Diary of Young Justice Bao on the left. We’re really proud of this little piece of historical mystery. Find out why here.

________ Thanks to my friends at Epigram Books for inviting me to another one of their The Finer Art of Editing sessions. Which comes with nice food and drinks and is more like a mellow party for people who publish stuff. (Here’s a post about the first session I attended some weeks back.) Last week’s guest was Robin Hemley, Director of the Writing Programme at Yale-NUS College, and an award winning writer of both fiction and non-fiction. He shared lots of cool stories about his book projects around the world. Some of his anecdotes were so fascinating that we kept using our smartphones to search for more information. This is his website.

Epigram Books also publishes the Sherlock Sam series by my friends Adan Jimenez and Felicia Low-Jimenez (yes, they write Sherlock stories too). Here I am posing with a big Sherlock Sam standee at the recent “Celebrate Singapore Books” fair organised by The Singapore Book Publishers Association and Isetan Singapore.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Lots more updates throughout this week. Waiting for the go-ahead to make a big announcement. It might change everything we do here at Super Cool Books. In a good way. Also, will post a few more interviews with our friends and fellow writers.

Take it easy, read what you love, always use your imagination. :)

— D

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Preview of more book covers + What’s really happening when children get lost in the books they love

Last week we posted a special preview of some new book covers that you’ll be seeing in our Super Cool Books iPad app. (Check out the designs.) Here are a few more. These will all go into the Kids section of our coming app update. There’ll also be two new sections this time around: Teens and Specials. Everyone is working very hard to get this ready. We’ll share more book covers soon.

Also last week, I was interviewed on the Asian literary website Kitaab. Read the full piece here. An extract, what I think is really happening when children get lost in the books they love:

“Kids always have a burning desire to be educated. This is something I noticed after becoming a parent. They go around the world and see everything as a mystery, a puzzle, a challenge to be figured out.

Even a silly joke book with toilet humour, or slapstick stories about clumsy kids behaving badly: children find great educational value in them. Just maybe not in the way that adults might approve of.

But children eventually outgrow their younger selves. When they’re older and they look back, they’ll treasure the books that provided them with kind insights and sincere companionship. They’ll appreciate authors who explain the tricky bits of life in an honest and non-judgmental way — like what JK Rowling managed to do with her Harry Potter series. And that’s how certain titles become classics. They’re educational like that.

Which is why when I work on my books, I remind myself that I’m not writing for children, I’m really writing for future adults.”


Enjoy the new covers, do send us a message if you have anything to share, we’d love to hear from you. Stay young and brave! :)

— D

GHOSTLY by Don Bosco
The Ghostly Beings are coming! What will you do? Terrible things happen to Zoe and Seth after they find a strange scroll. With help from Chong and Karina, they uncover a creepy conspiracy to turn their school into a place of horrors. Who is the mysterious Madam White Cat? How will Demon Boy carry out his shockingly sinister plan? What is Zoe's awesome secret? Read to find out! This book is packed with scary, funny and magical moments. You'll enjoy every page.

TIME TALISMAN series by Don Bosco
The TIME TALISMAN series  takes us into an alternative history of Singapore, to explore a magical colonial city where alchemists struggle for power and young kids lead the battle against evil. It all starts in present-day Singapore, when young Justin Low and his good friends Emily Anson and Roz Hamid come across a mysterious talisman. To their horror, it sends them 150 years back in time!