Thursday, 22 August 2013

by Jamie Kok Yixin, Form 5 Science 1, Class of 2013
with special thanks to Pang Huey Lynn, Kristen Phang & Tai Kai Xin

A new event was introduced this year for the Cempaka THINKCon, one that intended to once again open new opportunities, challenge minds and test the creativity of Cempakans. Of all the happenings and exciting new things that hectic day, this was probably the most interesting and intriguing of all. I am  referring to none other than the ‘A New Kind Of Hero’ comic workshop and inter-house competition. 

The challenge was simple. Each house was to come up with an original superhero that tackled a specific problem and dealt with it efficiently. Give your hero a name, costume and backstory, then submit your comic book covers and first page storyboard by the deadline. We were given only two weeks to brainstorm, plan, visualise, sketch, and illustrate our new-spun tales. Each house was required to form a project team, consisting of a leader, story board specialist, concept artist and illustrator to conceive a new superhero that would hopefully rise above the rest and win the challenge for them. The main goal was not only to impress the panel of judges - headed by an award-winning Malaysian designer known as Tintoy, and also consisting of Dr Iskandar Rizal and Mr Edwin Wong - but it was emphasized that we pay attention to the details, design and conceptualization of our hero.   

Last Saturday, Cempakans flooded the concourse area of Bangsar Village II, showing their love and support for their houses and never-dying enthusiasm towards learning new things. Right in front of the convention stood a neat row of easels, on which were mounted the eight comic features across all four houses from both Cempaka Cheras and Cempaka Damansara. It was certainly an eye-catching sight, and many visitors and Cempakans alike could not help but be attracted to the vibrant artwork and compelling stories on display. 

The presentations of the various heroes later that afternoon received good response from the audience. Comic enthusiasts, proud parents and supporting housemates alike crowded the area to listen to the captivating presentations from all the teams. First up from Cempaka Damansara was Rumah Merpati, who presented on their hero 'Rachany', whose name means 'The Night' in the Khmer tongue. Expert artwork and a nicely paced storyboard definitely made Rachany a fierce contender for first place. Rachany is a female superhero who deals with human traffickers and ventures to help victims of the inhumane trade. Her rich backstory provides the explanation for her sympathy: she was once subject to such savage treatment too, having suffered through the plight when she was younger. Trained in the ancient Cambodian martial art of Bokator, she uses her skills to help victims of human trafficking while simultaneously striking fear in the hearts of those involved with human trafficking.

Next, Rumah Harimau delivered a strong presentation on their hero, Scarlet Rose. Kristen Phang from Freshman Cempaka was the sole presenter. The comic was about an Indonesian girl from Bali who makes a living by selling clothes and Henna paintings. One day, she saw a stranger inject something into her dog, Soto. The story goes that she developed superpowers and transformed into Scarlet Rose after Soto bit hard on her hand. Their superhero has a heart of kindness and is a hero to the animals.

This was followed by one of the most anticipated presentation yet- Rumah Helang. Their Hero, Atlas, stood as a mysteriously silhouetted figure on their cover. Atlas is in fact, made of rock. Its story is set in a dystopian future whereby an evil corporation known as Alliance has virtually taken over the global economy and dominates the entire primary sector. Resting in the ruins of an ancient Mayan tribe, Atlas rises from his slumber to avenge the wrongs of Alliance, and leads the people to a rebellion by serving as a tangible threat to a seemingly untouchable Alliance. 

Finally, the last house to present from Cempaka Damansara- Rumah Seladang! The team from RUmah Seladang chose a Grecian theme for their hero, Pan. In their cleverly adapted version of the Greek tale, Pan, the son of Hermes fakes his death to escape the torment of watching his brothers turn against one another over dispute of their father's power. He teleports himself and ends up in a completely new world, Earth, dimensions away from the realms of ancient Olympia. Lost and distraught, he wanders into the Brooklyn Forest Reserve Company in search of a job. Armed with a new identity - Phillip Arthur Knowles, he was ready to take on a new life. He travels with a group of biologists into the Amazon but soon detaches him from them. This is the point of time he truly finds himself and listens to the energy of the forest around him. He feels awakened by roaming the deep jungles and open wildernesses. After wandering for a few days, he learns that there are groups of corporations that are determined to destroy the wild for greed and money, with a man named Dr. Corporato as its head. Thus begins Pan's mission to stop the evil Dr. Corporato, gaining many strengths on the way, including regaining his godly powers from the other realm and harnessing it for the greater good.

At the end of the day, wonderful presentations were heard from all four teams and the amount of effort put into this project was clearly enormous. The purpose of this challenge was not to see how well Cempakans could draw or how good they were at art, though all houses did a fairly god job on this aspect. Instead, what was required and looked forward to was really how well us Cempakans could come up with a viable concept that tackled the problem at hand, an idea that was well researched, well conceptualized and well applied, and of course was interesting enough to draw readers in and keep them on the edge of their seats. 

Alas, there could only be one winner. In Cempaka Damansara, Atlas from Rumah Helang proved the exception as it beat out the other superheroes to clinch first place. Nonetheless, I am sure all participants from all the houses can agree that the experience itself from such an innovative project was worth it, whether or not they placed first or last. It's easy to see that every Cempakan who took part in this performed commendably. All in all, 'A New Kind of Hero' competition proved to be quite interesting and thought provoking for everyone. We are grateful for the opportunity and very much look forward to the next THINKCon!
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