It’s a sad week for local manga (Japanese comic) fans as Malaysian manga translating giant, Comics House, effectively ended its business last month. The fans only learnt about its demise this week.
The 21-year-old publishing company has translated more than 50 Manga titles, starting off first with the Dragon Ball and Dragon Quest series in 1995.
Following their success, manga such as Naruto, One Piece, Bleach, Yu Yu Hakusho, Dr Slump, Shin Chan and others were also translated and published in Bahasa Malaysia monthly.
Netizens only got to know of its closure recently as there was no announcement made by the company. A check on Comics House’s Facebook page showed no sign of any official statement either.
However, news of the company’s closure in October gradually became viral this week with some blogs claiming it could be due to rise in operational costs.
Personally, Comics House played a very important role in my life as an artist.
My 21-year-old love affair with manga began when I spotted a large poster of a young enthusiastic Son Goku on a green dragon with the words “Mutiara Naga” in bold decorating the old wall of a bookshop in Seremban town.
I was riding pillion on a motorcycle driven by my mother that sunny day when by chance she stopped at the sundry shop next to the bookshop.
As if by instinct, I ran into the bookshop and begged my mother to get me the first issue of the comic.
It was an exhilarating experience, to be able to read the manga in Bahasa Malaysia! I remember sitting by the roadside while waiting for my mother to finish her shopping – absolutely engrossed in the comic. I read it multiple times for its story-line and Toriyama’s art style in the following weeks, impatient for the second issue.
The translations were not too bad. There were the occasional minor grammatical errors but for a nine-year-old kid such as myself, it was a blessing to be able to read Dragon Ball!
Months later, nearly every kid in school were seen with a Mutiara Naga comic in hand. It came to a point where teachers banned the comics in school and whoever caught reading them were sent to the headmaster’s office.
Though Dragon Ball ended its run in Japan in 1995, for us Malaysians, the hype began that year and went on for another four-more years.
Just like my school mates, we waited with bated breath for a brand new instalment of Mutiara Naga every month.
During the lucky months, my mother would reluctantly fork out cash for me to purchase the comics. During the unlucky ones, I would have to save up cash to purchase them myself.
It was an exciting period in my life and I remember collecting the comics.
In fact, it is thanks to the Mutiara Naga comics that I began doodling in my school text books and note books.
A friend and I even purchased notebooks specifically to draw comics in them. I tried emulating Toriyama’s art-style and occasionally, I still see traces of him in my artworks today.
My mother was never a fan of my reading comics. There came a point she conducted weekly spot checks on my school books to see if I doodled anything in them.
I used to receive a slap for every doddle. There were weeks when she would mistake the old doodles for new ones and slap me. I should have erased them as she instructed but I never did.
In 1999, just when Mutiara Naga reached the Majin Boo saga, calamity happened.
My mother threw all the collected comics into the rubbish bin. All 30-over comics!
The next morning, I could only salvage a handful of the comics. The rest were soggy from all that muck in the bin.
I managed to re-purchase the entire collection last-year.
But really, I have to thank Comics House. If it were not for them translating the Dragon Ball comics, I would never have known what art is.
I would never have gotten the inspiration to draw.
So, thank you for being dedicated in translating and publishing manga for millions of Malaysians, Comics House.
What are some of your favorite memories when reading manga published by Comics House? Share it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org