Signal Boost: Coming this July!

Signal Boost

Events / Exhibitions

Comic Face-Off 2015

Want to flex those comicking muscles? Join Andrew Tan (Drewscape) and his team fellow comickers, Benjamin Chee, Don Low, and Max Loh, at Bishan Public Library for a Comic Face-Off on 4th July 2015, 2-5PM! They’ll be presenting and facilitating round robin comics, where you pass pages of comics around for the next artist to follow, and selling books on the side. Admission is free and you can register here.

Read! Fest 2015

Spanning from 13th June to 13th August 2015, READ! Singapore’s Read!Fest 2015 continues to help Singaporeans re-discover the pleasure of reading. Check out their great array of events, covering reading for children, young adults, adults, writing fiction, literature, and creating comics. You can download their booklet here.

Geo | Graphic: Celebrating Maps and their Stories

The National Library’s Geo | Graphic will run until 19 July 2015, featuring maps from Singapore in particular, opening a window to our early history and seeing through the eyes of our early map-makers. Admission is free. For more information on the exhibition, you can find out more here.

Made in Singapore Products Exhibition

To celebrate SG50, the National Heritage Board (NHB) is exhibiting 50 Made-in-Singapore products at the Glass Atrium (Level 2) of the National Museum of Singapore until 6 September 2015. Admission is free, and you can find out more about the event here.

Workshops

Fiction Writing (Advanced)

This advanced fiction writing workshop is for writers who have already grasped the fundamental writing techniques and would like to push further. Run by Firebird Communication’s Samantha De Silva, it will feature aspects like plot, dialogue, character, pace, together with more advanced topics like symbolism. Held on 25 July 2015, the workshop is $70. Find out more about the workshop here.

Open Calls for Submission

Flash Fiction Contest 2015

Thinking of writing a story under 500 words? Maybe this Flash Fiction Contest by READ! Singapore will help you get motivated. Write a story under 500 words, including one of the following Singapore book titles as a phrase:

  • Between Stations (Boey Kim Cheng)
  • Chilli Padi (Adeline Foo)
  • City of Small Blessings (Simon Tay)
  • Gone Case (Dave Chua)
  • If We Dream Too Long (Goh Poh Seng)
  • One Fierce Hour (Alfian Sa’at)
  • Let Me Tell You Something About That Night (Cyril Wong)
  • Never Been Better (O Thiam Chin)
  • The Space Between The Raindrops (Justin Ker)
  • Unmarked Treasure (Cyril Wong)

There are three categories to submit to (Primary School, Secondary School, Open), and deadline for this competition is 15 July 2015. You can find out more about submission format and rules here.

Signal Boost will now list any literary or museum events for the month every 1st Wednesday of that month. If you would like me to help with any signal boosting of literary events, museum exhibitions, workshops (literary / museums), or calls for submission, drop me a comment or an email at joelyn.alexandra@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading!

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Updates [June 2015]

Featured Posts

And with that, the first half of 2015 is done and tucked behind all of us. The first half of 2015 was eventful, to say the least. The Tiger and I have often joked about how the first half of the year is when the lulls happen and it’s the time where we have to do what we can so the second half doesn’t punch us in the face. Now, everything’s just happening all the time. Not that that’s a complaint though.

This month sees Crime Reading Month (and all my Crime-Fic Friday Reads on Instagram) and also sees a post I am very happy with – the first opinion piece I have written in a very long time:

Writer-y Endeavours

The end of May going into June was probably the most literary for me in terms of events. Post-MAP Peer-to-Peer Review, the Asian Festival of Children’s Content, and the Comic Art Festival, Kuala Lumpur happened the next weekend.

Escape from Reality is coming along with the last dredges of the first round of edits, so hopefully we’ll have the Table of Contents out soon. My MAP Novel is trudging along. I only have two months left now so the last three chapters that need reworking will be reworked like mad.

Coming Up Soon!

  • Comic Face Off!
  • Our final two MAP workshops
  • More writing and project madness!
  • I will also be going for a short break at a hill resort in Malaysia, so there probably will be another travel post!

With that, I will see you in July!

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Blanket Fortress Play: Smash Up!

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This is one game which took the Tiger by storm, through a whirlwind, and into the eye of the storm of obsession. And by effect, both he and I have been playing this game for a while – since he got his starter set all the way to the Big Geeky Box.

Inside the Box

In the starter set, there are eight (8) base decks and their accompanying bases. The box is straightforward, including:

  • Smash Up Bases
  • Smash Up Factions
    • Pirates
    • Robots
    • Aliens
    • Ninjas
    • Dinosaurs
    • Zombies
    • Tricksters
    • Wizards
  • Cleverly-designed tray base to store your decks and the many expansion decks to come!

Other expansions included the Double Sci-Fi Expansion (Spies, Shapeshifters, Battle Apes, Time Travellers), the Awesome 9000 Expansion (Ghosts, Bear Calvary, Steampunk, Killer Plants), the Monster deck (Mad Scientists, Vampires, Werewolves, Giant Ants), the Obligatory Cthulhu Expansion (Cultists, Innsmouth Residents, Miskatonic University, Elder Beings), the Pretty Pretty Princess Expansion (Princesses, Fairies, Mythical Horses, Cats), and the exclusive Geek Deck which comes with the Big Geeky Box.

Setup

The box for the Starter Set
The box for the Starter Set

Setup for each player is simple, you rotate clockwise, then anti-clockwise, each choosing two different factions and smashing them together to form your player’s deck. Then, lay out as many bases as there are players, and add one more.

During their turn, players can only play one minion and one action unless otherwise stated on the cards. If the cards and the rulebook are in conflict, the cards override everything.

Use your minions and actions to destroy as many bases as you can, score victory points, and the first player to reach 15 Victory Points wins!

The Game We Played

One of the first few games we played.
One of the first few games we played.

The Tiger and myself have played countless rounds of Smash Up, not counting the ones we have played with friends and family. Instead, I shall give a few pointers on some of the classes we have played with and the advantages they have.

For the tankers and the heavy-hitters (a.k.a. high on offense and attack), decks like the Dinosaur  and Fighter Ape will suit your style. The dinosaurs have cards with high power points  (their highest point for attack is 7, as compared to the average 5), which deadly combos. The apes accumulate attack points with complimenting actions which will allow players to add attack points to each minion.

People who are fans of zerging will appreciate decks like Zombies, Robots, Innsmouth Residents, and Killer Plants. Their cards provide the environment to do constant swarm, play extra minions, or respawn within one turn. Their attack may not be as high, but their numbers in one game can potentially accumulate.

Point vultures, or in a more fundamental term, the kill stealers, will probably like decks like the Ninja and the Spy. Apart from having cards which can be played out of turn to gain last minute points at a scoring base, these decks have action cards which will allow you to make use of another player’s minions as their own.

This category is possibly my favourite – the movers. In Smash Up, destroyed bases also means destroyed minions. So you have to either spread your arsenal around, or find minions who can move around (themselves or other minions) with ease. Great decks under this category include Pirates, Bear Cavalry, and Steampunk.

AHA!
AHA!

Gameplay Winners: He won, usually. LOL.

The great thing about Smash Up is how you can technically start playing with any one of their expansion packs (You need four decks for a two player game), with any smash up of any available factions. This gives great replayability, as players can explore the strengths and combinations of different classes.

Alderac’s constant churning of Smash Up expansions means that you will never get bored of the game for the foreseeable future. Find out more about the game here. (Note: Their latest expansions, Munchkin and It’s Your Fault!, comes out August 2015 and Spring 2016 respectively)

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Eternal Sights; Spotted Mind – CAFKL Afterthoughts on Creativity and Opportunities

Eternal Sights

WARNING: Long, wordy, and possibly preachy post to come, though I hope it will help provide perspective.

A good couple of weeks after CAFKL2, I still have the same afterthoughts which have been plaguing both my and perhaps some of my other friends’ minds. It feels like an expected side effect, especially for Singaporeans who go to these independent conventions – you know it’s going to happen, so you can either lament it or be inspired by it. Or both.

Now, I try to reduce the amount of laments I produce, mostly because I get too motivated to get off my butt and really start doing things.

Looking back, I believe I am justified in asking if this is a Singaporean thing or is it just prominent with creatives in general – Many friends, who are passionate about their creations, want to leave Singapore the moment they have an opportunity to do so. Or at least, out of 10 people I know, around 8 have no intention of settling here or contributing to the creative industry here. And that’s myself from half a decade ago included.

I could name the reasons in a list but I think that will take forever. As such, here’s something I pick up from friends who have attended both Singaporean and Malaysian comic events.

Singapore

Malaysia

Rigid

Expensive

Red tape

Booth application open to public

Affordable (Booth rent & Event tickets)

Quality and individual style put first

Lack of Opportunities Active indie / non-profit organisations for artists
Lack of Support

Highly Competitive

Supportive communities

Active but informal groups for development

“Hopeless Environment” Supportive and regular fanbase

Fans more open to original work

Regular opportunities for promotion (CF, CAFKL)

“No Talent” Most independently-produced work have quality
“No Resources” Cheaper production costs (printing etc…)

You get my gist.

Regardless, I’m not going to add to the abovementioned points, I believe everyone relates better and will probably know more about those problems than I will. Instead, this will be my take on creativity and opportunities in Singapore.

Over-simply put…

WE HAVE TO GET OVER OURSELVES.

It’s not the best thing to hear, especially from a nobody like me. However, I believe there are many potential creators (Arts, Humanities, STEM etc…) who can do so many things to help the world, society, or even themselves, if they could just stop telling themselves that “the market is not good”, or “no one will buy my stuff”, or “it’s not practical” all the time.

The Excuse of “Circumstance”

One of the most repeated phrases I hear when I go to Comic Fiesta or CAFKL is…

“These artists are in a place which is very chill, they have time to do what they want, or even turn their art into a career. We’re too competitive and our day jobs leave us very tired. We have so many things to be responsible for and our families don’t support us etc…”

Regardless of country, the chances of artists, writers, musicians, creators in general having to have a day job in order to live stably, are very high. So if you’re talking time and support alone, we’re all dealing with the same fatigue, same familial objections, same Groucho Marxists (Thanks Ms. Allen!). I will not go into details here because further detailed comparison will not help any case.

First thing many of us need to be reminded of – our problems are not totally external. Our circumstances will always be against us, as it has been and is and will be around the world. Circumstance is the line between privilege and vicious cycles. It can also be an excuse.

Everyone sees Lady Gaga. No one sees her history of eating crap until she made it.
Everyone sees J.K. Rowling. No one sees the independent author who’s just as good, next door.
Everyone sees Scott McCloud. No one sees the indie comicker behind a booth at another indie event.

And yet some indie creators push on. Why? Do they not have people constantly asking them, “Why do you still do this? There’s no profit!”? Do they not have post-work fatigue after a long day? Do they not have to worry about making rent or whether or not to splurge on that new book or movie?

Perhaps their KPIs are only two sentences long:

  • To create what they want and enjoy both the process and end product.
  • To share their end product for others to appreciate.

That is not to say that creatives do not need to pay bills (Reminder: PLEASE PAY YOUR WRITER/ARTIST/CREATIVE REASONABLY), but if you intend to do art just for the money and the fame, I suggest you shift your paradigm.

What can we do? As groups? As individuals?

We seem to want a lot of things and we want them now. I will be the happiest person when someone tells me that I can gain a career of writing mystery / dystopia fiction or board games with a salary which will allow me to live better than I do now for the rest of my life, starting tomorrow.

Another word of warning: the road is going to be endless and full of desert and dusty heat, but if you can, you might just enjoy it. (Maybe that’s why artists sometimes call themselves masochists. LOL.)

This will not be as easy as it sounds, but if we could take what we appreciate from creative communities overseas and emulate them in Singapore, we will be one step ahead of where we are now. (Apart from practicing and honing your craft)

If you like the dynamics of Comic Fiesta or Comic Art Festival, Kuala Lumpur, perhaps interested friends can band together and do something similar in conjunction with 24-Hour Comics Day (if things like logistics and sponsors get too overwhelming).

If you like the community cohesiveness in writer’s centres or festivals overseas, form your own collective and make it a point to produce work semi-regularly or regularly. Join things like Nanowrimo (which started as a group of people writing in a café anyway)! Locations can be a problem, so maybe rotate places, or go online (make sure to nudge everyone into meeting).

A great example of an independent collective and an event they hosted (thanks to the contributors of their Indiegogo campaign), was the Handmade Movement and their Indie Craft Fair, held at Fort Canning Park in 2013. Despite the rain, many of us had a great time finding many different locally-produced crafts.

From there, you can pick another point to take home. If you have no money / funds, perhaps it is time to allocate a little bit for your own pursuits? We can all save for holidays and material things, I believe we can all save for our own passion. You can also crowdfund – IndieGogo and Patreon are good places to start – and in addition, crowdfund perks gives you the motivation to produce and develop your art more.

Government grants are another way to go, though the competition for them is real. Do note, however, that grants come at a price (and rightly so) – if you want to take someone else’s money, you have to give something in return. It is the same principle with doing crowdfunding or business at an independent event – people pay for goods.

But your creations have nothing to do with me!

The short version of this section for me will be: SUPPORT.

I do not mean support blindly – I do not want to force you to buy books, comics, food products, furniture, clothes etc… just because they were designed or made by a local. I mean looking out for things you can relate to. (And please do not tell me there is nothing you like about Singapore.)

We still have that stigma of “local = bad quality”, and that can only be stopped when every individual erases it and starts speaking with their actions.

Like books? Read Gene Whitlock’s “The Unsavoury Alphabet”, Loh Guan Liang’s “Transparent Strangers”, or SherMay Loh’s “Archibald” Series?
Like baked desserts? Dine at Plain Vanilla, Windowsill Pies, or Tiong Bahru Bakery?
Like fashion? Check out Hansel, SECTS, or Chalk?

Yes, I know we have a long way to go in terms of local entertainment and all that, but the standard is probably going to stay where it is, or never expand if there’s not going to be enough support. In this chicken-and-egg scenario, I guess the only thing we can do as individuals is to support and spread the word.

And again, if you have no money, there are many other ways to show support – spread the word about new books, talk about local food or movies, show up at events like design markets, free plays, or open exhibitions. If you are passionate or interested in something, I’m sure you can find something affiliated or similar to your interests here.

Conclusion

Instead of lamenting that we are in a hopeless environment, I guess we need to create the hope ourselves. The only time I will start ranting against “the authorities” is when they start intruding into harmless activities when people are just trying to look after themselves or the community they’re passionate about.

Singapore has always been promoting itself as a place of possibilities, opportunities, and where things can happen when you work well to get it. Circumstances have to change – but we need to get it ourselves. I know pragmatism is the name of Singapore’s game, perhaps it’s time it stopped being an excuse.

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Museum Escapades: Haikus and River Safari

Museum Escapades

While zoological or botanical gardens may not “qualify” to the typical definition of a “museum”, one can also argue that zoos and gardens are living museums – a place to educate, study, and develop action among people. Regardless, the Tiger and I had a fun day out at the River Safari, especially when he brought his watercolours out.

And as he drew on the go, I took pics, and made up these haikus to talk about the highlights of that trip. I thought they would be a good way to portray what I was feeling at that time, and perhaps give this museum review a little twist.

*

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Effects of the Artist’s Mind

Marbling water with
Palettes and ink, strokes combined,
Set in cream paper.

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Rising Sunset

You stare in wonder,
Yet know not of my story,
Or my sunset flights.

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Point-of-View

They wave and holler,
Not realising they are there
for me to watch them.

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Panda Munchies

Majestic, they call
But I just want to eat while
They snap photographs.

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In Conversation with Pink (for Reimena Yee)

We had tea with the
Flamingos over the fence
During our boat ride.

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Spirit Animals

My mermaid looks at
Their munches, faceplants, and
Nods in approval.

River Safari Rivers

Life Force

Converge, Meander;
They all move, transport, give life;
Educate, Reach, Flow.

*

People may come here to view the Pandas, but my heart will always be with the Manatees here. You can also catch a glimpse of what the Tiger drew here as well.

To visit / find out more about the River Safari, click here.  

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Book Bites: CAFKL 2015

Book Bites

One of the things I love about events happening in early June is that while participating, you know you’re able to take stock of what you’ve done over the first half of the year without the panic of the second half coming.

One of the things I cannot stand about events happening in early June is that while participating, it serves as a reminder that the second half of the year is looming. And so are your deadlines.

That being said, lately, I’ve been inspired to create more after going to events like the Singapore Toys, Games, and Comics Convention, the Singapore Writers’ Festival, Comic Fiesta, and most recently, the Comic Art Festival, KL. Or CAFKL2 this year.

Paper Peril is set up and ready to go!
Paper Peril is set up and ready to go!

This trip was different from the usual. Heading up to KL with Valerie and Weiman, we met the Tiger (who had his booth for CAFKL2) at Menara PGRM – nearest LRT station is Maluri – which is in the Cheras area. Setting up was usual, though this time, it was punctuated with the marbled brownies I baked the day before.

A few ‘good mornings’ and a booth run later, they let the hordes in.

Letting the crowd in!
Letting the crowd in!
Hordes and hordes of people!!
Hordes and hordes of people!!

Compared to the first CAFKL, this year’s location was definitely better ventilated with more space. There were also many familiar faces – Hwei and Serah were booth neighbours, with diagonal neighbours from Glassine Books and Stephani Soejono, Fat Fairy was somewhere down the line, you know the drill. Quality of comics and artwork gets better every year, so many kudos to the organising committee once again!

Weiman and Val enjoyed themselves a lot, with both of them spending more than they had expected (in a good way). And while it was great to see my friends enjoying themselves in a relatively new environment, I was, once again, inspired to create after participating in CAFKL. At the same time, there were many thoughts on creating in Singapore, writing what I want, and the general creative environment we have both here and in Malaysia. I have a whole lot to say about that but I will save that for a later post.

What inspired me the most this year was the expansion of independent story zines, especially by the collective behind Prose-ACK! (Chap Fan, an indie collection of poems) and Tuna’s crazily funny (and trashy) light novel. Whoever said there was no room for prose or words in a comics convention has clearly not seen enough.

And thus ends my experience with CAFKL2! And if we see all of you during Comic Fiesta, I promise to bring my marbled brownies again. Or something as good. As long as Denise doesn’t kill me for not bringing enough baked goods and JayVee doesn’t polish everything off. LOL.

Thanks for coming to the Paper Peril booth and all the booths around us, everyone!
Thanks for coming to the Paper Peril booth and all the booths around us, everyone!

For more information and to see the many artists who were around during CAFKL2, check them out here.

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Book Bites: AFCC 2015 – Unleashing Your Potential with Online Platforms

Book Bites

This year, Sarah and I were fortunate to be invited by the organisers behind the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2015 (Thank you to the National Library Board and Book Council Singapore) to speak about Nanowrimo under the Writers & Illustrators Conference. (Sarah was there as main speaker and I was there in case she needed back-up during Q&A.)

Following the topic of “Unleashing Your Potential with Online Platforms”, all four invited speakers were there to speak about the various online challenge projects they were involved in and how it has helped them with their creative lives.

Excited to be a guest for AFCC 2015!
Excited to be a guest for AFCC 2015!

That being said, she went on stage with JF Koh, organizer of the Singapore branch of the 24-Hour Comics Day, Emily Lim, award-winning children’s book author and participant of the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge, and Tania McCartney, founder of the 52-Week Illustration Challenge.

Moderated by Felicia Low-Jimenez, the started with each speaker talking about the online platforms they work with. To sum things up, this list showed the gist of what each challenge was about:

In essence, interested parties sign up on these online platforms, while doing the actual creating offline. However, the platforms provide communities of like-minded creators, exposure to various types of art, and possibly, opportunities for further skill development or promotion.

It is known that Nanowrimo participants have gone on to publish works they started during the challenge itself, and the same goes for comics produced during 24-Hour Comics Day. Likewise, the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge gives participants both the motivation and the critiques to polish their work. And what started as a personal project became a 52-week illustration challenge for creators around the world to showcase their works and find opportunities.

From the shadows of the Pod, we listened to them talk.
From the shadows of the Pod, we listened to them talk.

I believe the most important lesson is how talent and skill will only get you so far. Practice and showcasing will help creators develop in networking, in skill, in talent, and in order to do so, creators as a whole can take that step.

To paraphrase Tania, once it’s on the Internet, you can throw copyright out the window. However, which of these risks would you be willing to take?

Having a single person out of hundreds and thousands take your work out of no regard for you, or living in obscurity because you’re afraid of that single person?

And to leave you to think about it, here’s something JF said.

“Someone once told me that the young artist’s biggest enemy is not plagiarism, but obscurity.”

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