Saturday, November 24, 2012

Interview with Gilamon Studio's Lefty - Different Recipes of Horror in "Jimi Germ" and "Zero Hero"


3/4 of Gilamon Studio with Sonny Liew (far left)
One of the nicest things that could happen in the geek world is getting acquainted with the guys from Gilamon Studio.

If you are not familiar with Gilamon Studio already, it is an inspiring Malaysian creative outfit consisting of four talented and very affable creators - Julian "Lefty" Kam, Tan Eng Huat, Michael Chuah and Chin Sau Lim.

Marvel comic readers would be most familiar with artist Tan Eng Huat, whose works have graced titles like "X-Men: Legacy", "The Punisher" and "Thor: First Thunder". But, let it be known, that the other three creators are just as talented in their own right.

While Red Dot Diva has not personally met Michael Chuah yet, she has bumped into the rest of the team on several different occasions. In fact, she spent some time with Lefty and Eng Huat at their little space at the "Heavy Metal" booth during Comic-Con earlier this year. The guys were promoting their latest releases - a charming little gem called "Jimi Germ" that also has its own iTunes app, and a preview edition of "Zero Hero". It was definitely a comforting slice of home exchanging the familiar Singaporean-Malaysian accents and lingo with the two while in a far away land.

Originally, Red Dot Diva had a more detailed blog piece planned from audio interviews recorded with Lefty, Eng Huat and Sau Lim when they were here during STGCC. Unfortunately, she had to mourn the untimely death of her 2-year-old audio recorder. The gadget decided to go kaput before she managed to extract the audio files from its internal memory. And the interview material is now lost forever .... buried in a binary gravesite. *sob*

Thanks to Lefty, who is as gracious with his busy schedule as always, Red Dot Diva was able to get him to answer many of the questions she had already asked before.

Red Dot Diva: When do you best come up with ideas? Do you have a notebook of ideas/ dreams?
Lefty: Actually I have plenty of notebooks, sometimes I can't even remember which notebook I have written down a particular idea when I need it. T_T

Red Dot Diva: I read "Jimi Germ" the day I got it from you guys at the launch here, and thought it was an absolutely entertaining read. And the artwork was cute but not *too* cute, which was a good balance considering the icky subject on germs. Tell us more about "Jimi Germ", what’s new and different about this compared to other Gilamon releases?
Lefty: In a nutshell, "Jimi Germ" is about an eccentric young man who battles demons and strange diseases in a fictional modern Asia. Deemed as an outcast by the very society he protects, his knowledge in traditional germ handling sets him in good stead when called in to solve unexplained cases by the authorities. With a disbelieving military scientist as his partner, Jimi Germ brings humour and unexpected wisdom to those mysterious cases.

There are mainly two different things in "Jimi Germ" compared to Gilamon's previous intellectual properties. Firstly, it's in color! Secondly, it's more kids friendly. Some of my friends still think it's too scary for their children though hahahaha… They are horrified when they see the Hunger Worm, a possessed 9-year old that has grown to 8-feet tall with multiple mouths (filled with sharp teeth) growing all over his body! 
(Red Dot Diva's note: Folks, did you know all the copies of "Jimi Germ" that were brought to Singapore for the launch and STGCC were sold out? Awesome, huh?)

Red Dot Diva: Was it tricky to get the "Jimi Germ" iPad app scripted and released?
Lefty: If I am going to do it again, I would draw my pages in layer, that would make my life a whole lot easier. I didn't manage to do so because I had already completed my pages when I got the opportunity to work on it as an iPad app. Technically, I am very lucky to be able to team-up with Benny Khoo and Lim Chun Woei of Durian Media. Basically I just briefed them on my ideas of how it should work, and they pretty much took it from there.

Red Dot Diva: Any other future plans for more "Jimi Germ"?
Lefty: We are planning on a game for the iPad platform.
Red Dot Diva: That sounds fun! When will it be ready?
Lefty: It is still in the early development stages. You'll definitely hear more news when we have made more progress with it!

Red Dot Diva: Gilamon released a preview edition of a seemingly bleak and rather violent graphic novel called "Zero Hero". What is it about? How did the idea come about?
Lefty: To sum it up in one line,  this is what "Zero Hero" is about: "When a group of super beings started to abuse the authority they were given, the common people rose up and, joined forces to put a stop to it." Interestingly enough, we were in Singapore when the idea first came to us in 2011. We were dead tired in our hotel room after an event but needed to discuss about a project to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Gilamon's formation in 2013.

Red Dot Diva: Which part did the four of you play for the "Zero Hero" project?
Lefty: Chin Sau Lim is the head writer of the project and Tan Eng Huat did all the character designs. All four of us have a full 20-page story to draw each. It will be compiled into a 100-page graphic novel after we throw in a little extras here and there.

Red Dot Diva:  How is "Zero Hero" progressing and when will it be released?
Lefty:  As all of us has a day job, we are squeezing it out little by little. But rest assured, by August 2013, which is Gilamon's birthday month, it will be out.

Red Dot Diva: Being an artist based in a small tropical island like Penang (not unlike us) – how do you think that actually benefits or puts you in favour compared to those living in big cities (like New York or Paris), well-known for their art?
Lefty:  It's more of a personal preference actually. To me it's not so much about a big city or a small island but how you feel about the place. I think I could do just fine in New York City as I find it very vibrant and exciting. My work might come out differently too, I believe. Currently, I really like where I am based, this little tropical island where I was born in, where people on the streets still smile at you.

Red Dot Diva: Any other upcoming projects?
Lefty: I am adapting a novel into a graphic form for a publisher. It will take at least 9 months of my time. Of course, I will squeeze out my part of "Zero Hero" as well as planning for another "Major Zombie" project in between.

The Diva and The Lefty
That's a Red Dot Diva yay too, for another "Major Zombie" project! The title is a pretty good read for those who love horror of the zombie kind. And in fact, Lefty received kudos recently for "Best Comic Series" and "Best Self-published Comics" awards at Pekomik Awards 2012 with "Major Zombie".

It goes to show that even if you hail from a little island or country somewhere, you just need to flex your biceps to put together enough passion, imagination, talent and opportunity, and successful indie creations can still happen.

Here's to many more entertaining creations from Gilamon!

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"Jimi Germ" is the winner of Malaysia's Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) Intellectual Property Creators Challenge (IPCC) grant in 2011. It's definitely worth checking out, if you are a kid, have kids or are just simply still young at heart! ;)


Official "Jimi Germ"website: http://www.jimigerm.com
"Jimi Germ" Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/jimigerm

Check out the "Jimi Germ" iPad app from iTunes! The free version consists of an interactive 8-page preview of "Jimi Germ and The Hunger Worm" graphic novel.

For the whole interactive comic, top-up for the app is available at a mere USD1.99!


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