WHEN more than 150 cartoonists, comic book artists, animators and illustrators gathered at the Cartoonists Day, they did not shake hands.
Instead, they hugged each other. Some of them had not met each other for more than 40 years. The excitement was clear when some talked shop, introduced their family, signed autographs and took photos, while others doodled cartoons for their fans.
Among the cartoonists and theatre personalities who attended the gathering were Tan Sri Johan Jaafar, Datuk Lat, Rejabhad, Zainal Buang Hussin, Jaafar Taib, Mishar (Mior Shariman Hassan), Nan (Zainal Osman), Jon, Yjang, Gayour, Rossem (Rosidi Semail), Datuk Azman Yusof, Sulaiman Awang, Ustaz Dinie Juri, Abdullah Ibrahim and Alias@Sailawati.
Cartoonists Day marked the official opening of the House of Cartoon and Comic Malaysia where more than 500 selected cartoon and comic works, accumulated from 1936 to late 1990s, were displayed.
The new gallery at Taman Botani Perdana in Kuala Lumpur is bound to be the next meeting place for tourists, comic collectors and students.
Malaysian Cartoonist Foundation patron and Malaysian Cartoonists Club adviser Datuk Akmar Hisham Mohd Yusof, who is also press secretary to the prime minister, said the gallery would be a new attraction for the public and comic enthusiasts.
“This new landmark will be the home to the nation’s cartoon and comic books. The value of these art pieces is priceless and it is our nation’s treasure.
“The gallery is so colourful with original comic book art, editorial cartoon strips and many more. Those who want to learn about Malaysian comic book history and culture, should come here,” he said, adding that the gallery should be used as a reference point for future cartoonists, animators and illustrators.
Akmar hoped there would be a bigger place later to showcase all the works of cartoonists.
“Instead of renting the place, we should have a place to call our own,” he said.
The idea of setting up the House of Cartoon And Comic Malaysia started in 2015. The main problem was finding a suitable venue but the founder, Mohd Desa Omar (also known as cartoonist Juragan), was determined to get the most conducive place. He also worked on the conservation of the comics with help from Tazidi Yusof (veteran cartoonist and illustrator who is also the curator) and Azhar Adnan (gallery manager).
The gallery featured works of cartoonists from magazines such as Gila-Gila, Gelihati, Batu Api, Ujang and masterpieces from once popular Malay newspapers Warta Jenaka, Utusan Zaman, the Majlis newspaper in the 1940s, the 1957 Berita Harian newspaper, Datuk Lat’s classic Mat Som comic book, published in 1989 and the cover of the first issue of Gila-Gila magazine, which hit the news stands in April 1978.
Some of the original works on display at the gallery were loaned from private collectors including Creative Enterprise Sdn Bhd (Gila-Gila publishers) and Balai Kartun Rossem, a private museum in Kota Baru in Kelantan.
Several veteran cartoonists were also awarded that evening for their contributions including the acclaimed “Anugerah Tokoh Kartunis 2017” that was given to veteran cartoonist Rossem.
Malaysia Cartoon And Comic House (Rumah Kartun & Komik Malaysia) is housed at the Information Centre Building, Jalan Cenderasari, Taman Botani Perdana, Kuala Lumpur.
It is open daily from 10am to 5pm and closed on public holidays. Admission: RM10 (adult) and RM5 (children).