I am trying my luck here to win a dream Halloween holiday in Hong Kong. Long time readers of my blog will know that I am a big fan of comic books, anime/manga, cosplay, toys and other otaku/geeky stuff. Hence I hope the judges will pick me for this trip! I promise I will take loads of photos and videos to share with all my blog readers on Alvinology.com.
Need evidence of how much of an otaku/geek I am?
Check out my crazy comic collection below:
I have two custom-made wall cabinets lined with Japanese manga – and that is still not enough to contain my entire collection even though I already resorted to lining them two rows per shelf.
Manga/anime like Takehiro Inoue’s Slam Dunk and Akira Toriyama’s Dragonball shaped my growing up days. I started playing basketball because of Slam Dunk and I still remember the Dragonball trading card craze back when I was in primary school. The latter taught me the first lesson on doing business. I discovered a secluded, old provision shop that was still selling a particularly rare series of Dragonball cards by chance. Keeping the location secret, I bought cards in bulk from the shop and was able to flip them for a good profit among my schoolmates. I spent the money on buying more manga…
I have cable television at home now. It is nice and nostalgic to see the Animax channel playing the anime version of some of my all-time favourite mangas like Slam Dunk, Yu Yu Hakusho, Deathnote and InuYasha.
That’s not all. I collect English comics too. Spiderman, X-men, The Silver Surfer, etc. I used to read them all. Nowadays, all of these comics are being made into Hollywood blockbuster movies and I catch them at the movies.
I also buy some toys and collectibles here and there, but not that serious as the comics already take up a lot of space in my home and I was already having a hard time convincing my parents not to throw them away through my teenage years.
I used to play quite a bit of computer games too. I still remember how my first Sega 16-Bit Mega Drive/Genesis game console made me one of the most popular kids in school, being one of the first to get it. I still remember games like Golden Axe and Bare Knuckles (Street of Rage) and how good I was at them. Back then, 16-Bit colour was a big deal – that’s why Sega had to proudly stamped it in gold font smacked in the middle of the console.
Then came the arcade craze where everyone headed to arcade centres like Parklane after school to thrash it out in a round of Street Fighter. Sometimes, the fight goes from the virtual world to the real world outside the arcade when two disgruntle players pit against each other.
After the arcade craze came Squaresoft’s Final Finatasy on Sony Playstation which kept me entertained for countless hours from FF7 to the most recent FFXIV. Squall Leonhart is still the coolest video game character ever. No wonder that Squall is still one of the most cosplay-ed character at any major cosplay events.
I can draw very well since my primary school, constantly topping my cohort in Art, all the way from primary school to secondary school. I have my comics and manga/anime addiction to thank for this. Seriously.
Just look at some of my old artworks below and you can see the heavy comic and manga/anime influences:
I have a collection of over 1,000 pieces of such artworks, mostly in comic/manga-style, carefully filed since I was in primary 6 when I picked up the compulsive habit of drawing on A4 paper as a form of visual diary. I was in the process of scanning and documenting all these drawings till my eMac crashed two years back. Nonetheless, part of the collection can be seen on my A4Alvin blog.
I switched to digital artwork in 2001. That was when I discovered Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter. It was a fascinating process. Armed with a Wacom tablet, I find that being left-handed finally has its advantage – I was able to operate the pen-mouse with my left-hand while I continue clicking the normal mouse with my right-hand! That means I can draw and paint faster on the computer than most right-hand individuals who can only use one hand.
(Above, L to R): Howard Hantu, Sally Sadako, Horace and Ginger Jiang – some ghost characters which I created with my good friend, Ding An for a children’s book.
(Above): Self-portrait (the guy in black tee) with a few of my close friends in university
More of my digital artworks are available for viewing in my Deviant Art Gallery which I just realised I have not updated for quite a while.
Besides drawing and design, I like to shoot and edit videos too – especially the lame, crappy variety. Below are two examples, titled “The School of Eye Power” and a stop-frame animation, “The Story of Shaun and Shane” respectively:
Now to cosplay… The two founders of the Singapore Cosplay Club, Takahan and Stephanie Snowheart are both dear friends of mine. We go a long way back and I have always made it an effort to visit all the Cosfest event that they organise at Downtown East every year. You can check out my archived blog entries lower down this post.
I remember there was a year when Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew made an appearance as the Guest-of-Honour at the event. Security was tight. Bags and props have to be scanned. It was quite amusing to see the cosplayers “disarming” their “weapons” for security inspection.
I am not a cosplayer myself, but I enjoy taking pictures of cosplay events and chatting with cosplayers who are generally very friendly people, despite the shocking outlook.
Together with a few friends, I was commissioned by a Professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS) back in 2005 to do a video documentary on the cosplay phenomenon in Singapore. The interviews and video shoots took us around 2 weeks to complete. It was through the interviews with the cosplayers that I got to understand how much time and effort goes into preparing the costume which are often 100 percent hand-made. A simple looking costume may take months to produce and the cost of the material may run to several thousand dollars.The cosplayers do not make a living from this, but it’s all in the name of devotion to their craft and their affection for the character that they are portraying. That earned my utmost respect. Try flipping through any random manga that you pick up. Then, try picturing how a random manga character can be transformed from 2D to 3D, moving from paper to a real physical costume. Difficult isn’t it?
There are lots of other hardcore otaku/geek stuff in this blog which I have diligently maintained since May 2007. Throughout the three years, I have painstakingly made an effort to put up at least one post a day to build up and maintain my readership to the current 5,000+ readers a day on Alvinology.com and my mirror blog, Alvinology II on omy.sg. I know, I know… I very no life one.
Here are some blog posts highlights which are of relevance to the world of cosplay, anime, manga and comic books through my years of blogging:
For the HKTB-Animax Hong Kong Halloween Treats event, I saw this paragraph that excites me:
“Fancy being in your cosplay costume to revel in the most exciting and colourful costume parties lining the streets of fashionable Lan Kwai Fong, party capital of Hong Kong at Halloween? How about experiencing a Disney’s Haunted Halloween with Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck in a spectacular Glow in the Park Halloween Parade at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort? Or be part of Asia’s largest Halloween Bash featuring over 400 costumed characters, more than 20 ‘haunted’ attractions, street shows and entertainment at Ocean Park Hong Kong? Or indulge in some Halloween fun at the Avenue of Stars or Madame Tussauds Hong Kong?”
Yes! I can fancy myself being there, mingling around and snapping loads of photos and videos. I am not a cosplayer, but I am game for Halloween dress-up. Here’s a picture of me at a Halloween event at the Singapore Night Safari last year:
For something more geekish and closer to my real-self, my wedding photos with my wife, Rachel, were styled after Carl and Ellie in the Pixar movie, UP:
The competition will be tough as HKTB-Animax are calling for entries from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. There will only be three winners, even lesser than the number of participating countries. I am keeping my fingers crossed. There are a lot of talented bloggers out there.
The folks at HKTB sent me some pictures of the cosplay competition held in Malaysia for this campaign:
Amazing right? I hope I get to go on the trip and meet these cosplayers as they hit the streets in Hong Kong to haunt Lan Kwai Fong. I promise I will video the whole costume parade in Hong Kong and post it up on my YouTube channel to share. I have done that before for a Coca-Cola Founder’s Day Parade at the Shanghai Expo earlier this year:
Hong Kong is such a colourful and vibrant city, I am sure it will be a dream destination for cosplayers to strut their costumes through the streets. I can visualise it all as I put on my otaku thinking cap now.
Quoting Mr Gregory Ho, Vice President & General Manager, Animax Asia: “It is not always that youth and young adults get recognition for simply indulging in hobbies such as cosplay and blogging.” Indeed, hence I hope I finally get rewarded for my hobby of blogging and being such a dorky geek for a large part of my life.
Quoting Mr David Leung, Regional Director-South & Southeast Asia, Hong Kong Tourism Board: “No other places celebrate Halloween like Hong Kong does! Hong Kong Halloween Treats is a funky month-long mix of street parties, ‘dressed up’ attractions, restaurants and bars offering themed menus and when shopping malls unleash a ghoulish assortment of shopping fun.” Indeed, that’s why I love Hong Kong and that’s why I hope to visit Hong Kong again even though I have just flown there in July.
Hope I get selected. If not also nevermind lah, I would have done a good deed by helping the nice folks at HKTB and Animax to promote their joint campaign. This blog entry is also a thank you post. I appreciate the media releases and invites that I been getting from both HKTB and Animax all these while.
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