My recent resurgent obsession with Transformers

Who doesn’t know the Transformers? Those incredible transforming toys that are more than meets the eyes? Being a child of the 1980s, I grew up watching the old G1 (=Generation 1) cartoons. Although it may look a bit dorky by today’s standards, back then Transformers was just prerequisite TV show for kids. My dad even bought me a few G1 figures. There was Ramjet (a Decepticon plane), Afterburner (an Autobot Technobot motorcycle) who can join with Scattershot (the Technobot leader), and Chromedome (a Headmaster car). When I left the US, I brought some of them with me to Jakarta, but sadly none of them survived till today.

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I used to have this toy, but now it’s gone. Picture taken from TF Wiki

Imagine my delight to see two of my old robots toys, recently re-released in our local toy stores.

Anyway, some time ago I’ve started to introduce my six year old son to the Transformers franchise, starting with the kid-friendly Robots in Disguise animated series. My son really loves the animation style and storyline. So last month (in July) I bought him one of the cartoon’s hero, Bumblebee. Two years ago, I bought a Warrior-class Optimus Prime on sale in Singapore, and allowed Zach to play with him.

So there was Optimus and Bumblebee. With no villains to fight.

Then The Last Knight started to play in the cinemas. As gorgeous those Michael Bay films are, Zachary had no taste for that franchise. But funnily, The Robots in Disguise toyline were being refreshed with new waves of figures while the shelf warmers (the previous unsold toys) were being heavily discounted, from 20% off… later 30% off… even 50% off (which I bought a few) and ultimately, 70% off.

In total, I spent about a good amount of money buying more Decepticons and Autobots in the months of July and August. Was it worth it? Well, Zach really loves them and enjoy recreating episodes, and they’re better alternatives than playing with the electronic gadgets.

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Happy New Year, and thoughts about 2016

Hi all. First of all, let me wish you all a Happy New Year. I don’t know what are your resolutions for 2017 are, but I hope you can accomplish them.

 

How are things in the sci-fi world? Well, last month I had the fortune to go to the cinema an watch Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and I was immensely satisfied with it. There are so many good things about it, even though it simply based on a single paragraph from the original Star Wars (1977)’s opening crawl.

We also lost of good number of celebrities last year, including Anton Yelchin and much recently, Carrie Fisher (as well her mother, Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds). Many people were so disappointed with that year’s losses, that people keep hoping 2016 would past.

 

There are several sci-fi flicks that I haven’t watch, including Assassin’s Creed and Passengers. I hope I can spare time to watch them before they are off the cinemas for good.

 

 

 

Contact! Encounter with Indonesian Comic Book Readers community (part two of two)

There are several fan communities existing in Indonesia.  Some of them can be quite specific (such as the Jakarta Saber, a group of Jakarta Star Wars fans who like to cosplay and do lightsaber fights), while others can be quite broad, such as the Indonesian Comic Book Readers.

Om Aji Widodo invited the Facebook group to meet up at a cafe in Jalan Bulungan, to chat and trade their comic collections. I was the second car to arrive after Om Aji, and he was very warm and welcoming. I met other traders and collectors, as well passersby who were curious about it.

Mr Aji explained to me to me in detail, how the American comic book fans started to gather together and acknowledge one another. Some people are blessed, others are very specific in what they like collect. One guy, for instance, specifically loves Golden Age Superman comics and anything related to Bizzaro (Superman’s defective clone). Another guy was so esctatic

 

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One of the interesting people I encountered was an alumni from Universitas Indonesia named Rama. He’s a psychology lecturer who also writes comics in a regular basis.

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Rama Reksoprodjo and Arvin posing together at the

Rama is the writer for several comics which are published by Skylar Comics. One of his comics is currently being developed as a motion picture which will be released later in September 2016.

 

Throughout the several hours I spent with them on that Sunday afternoon, the comic book fans have several peculiarities:

One has been collecting comics since he was young, and even at his age of 40+, he still collect them and store a huge amount of his collection at his parents’ house outside of Jakarta.

Another is married with children, and budget his expenses very carefully. He likes to collect good Spider-Man comics. The mainstream Marvel Universe Spider-Man, not the other variations. He works as a contractor in the construction industry.

One guy, as I mentioned before, specifically loves Golden Age Superman (that is the old 1930s-1950s Superman who was married to Lois Lane, until he died in the Infinite Crisis), as well comics that have Bizzaro.

Another guy works as an IT manager and has huge amount of collection. He also shared some personal information, which really struck a chord with me.

One lady who wears a hijab, loves Fables and comic book stories that tells human drama. Not really much into superheroes, but she enjoys Neil Gaiman’s.

It’s a real challenge to map out the broad range of comic book fans, but that meeting that day exposed me to huge plethora of information about the ones in Jakarta.

 

 

Contact! Encounter with Indonesian Comic Book Readers community (part 1 of 2)

I’m a comic book reader. In this day and age where there are a plethora of media to choose, comic books remain one of my favorites. Why? Because comic books are (usually) cheap and accessible. Accessible, as in it has a visual art that conveys a lot of story, as well some dialog and textual descriptions which explains the story further. It is also sold in many places, and have a low price barrier.

Nevertheless, over these past years.. well, since the 1990’s, I’ve been collecting a lot of comics? How many? Roughly this amount pictured below.

Comic collection 2016 08 04

 

With so much haul in stored in my place, I decided it was time to meet other comic book collectors and trade with them. Mr Adji Widodo was kind enough to invite me to a swap meet (uniquely called US Comics in the Trunks or YuSit) at Fri3nds.Co cafe.

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Meeting the Indonesian Comic Book Readers community

Tips: Koleksi komik – single issue vs trade collection

Note: the following post is in Bahasa Indonesia. Basically, this is an explanation regarding collecting comics in single issue vs trade collection forms.

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Bagi para penggemar komik asing, ada istilah-istilah yang patut diketahui. Komik berawal sebagai buku kumpulan cerita bergambar, dan dicetak dalam kertas murah sehingga bisa dikonsumsi oleh banyak orang dengan biaya terjangkau. Kini, menurut statistik tahun 2015 industri komik Amerika menghasilkan pemasukan sebesar 1.03 miliar dollar dengan 90 juta dollar dari hasil penjualan komik digital melalui toko-toko online seperti comiXology, Amazon, Play Store, Apple Store dll.

Lalu bagaimana dengan koleksi komik Amerika dari negara Indonesia? Ada beberapa hal yang perlu diketahui:

  1. Indonesia lokasinya jauh dari Amerika Serikat. Untuk pengiriman komik yang baru terbit bisa dibutuhkan sekitar 3-4 minggu untuk tiba di Tanah Air… itu kalau mau pakai biaya pengiriman yang termurah.
  2. Kurs Dollar Amerika terhadap Rupiah akhir-akhir ini stabil, sekitar Rp13.500 per 1 USD

Ada dua cara untuk mengkoleksi komik cetak.. kumpulkan komik single issue (yakni sebuah buku komik dengan jumlah halaman sekitar 24 – 32 halaman dengan berisi sejumlah iklan) yang berkisar $3 hingga $5 per edisi.   Cara kedua adalah mengumpulkan trade collection, yakni sebuah buku bundelan satu alur kisah komik yang lengkap yang biasanya berisi 5-8 issue komik yang dicetak ulang dalam bentuk paperback atau hardcover.

Kedua cara ada untung ruginya.

 

Single issues:

  • Terbit secara berkala, biasanya sebulan sekali
  • Harganya $3 hingga $5, kalo dikurskan ke Rupiah saat ini sekitar Rp45rb hingga Rp75rb.
  • Enteng dan gampang dibaca, dan kalo sudah sampai halaman terakhir bisa bikin penasaran untuk edisi berikutnya.
  • Lebih berharga ketika dijual kembali

Trade collection:

  • Mengumpulkan satu story arc (alur cerita) secara lengkap, sehingga jumlah halamannya lebih banyak (120 hingga 400 halaman)
  • Harga cenderung lebih murah. Contoh, Justice League vol 1 (Origin) mengumpulkan Justice League (New 52) #1 – 6. Masing-masing issue harga covernya $3.99, jadi kalo dibelikan masing-masing harganya $23.94, sementara harga trade paperback-nya adalah $16.99. Tapi kadang-kadang bisa jadi seperti Star Trek Ongoing volume 1 yang mengumpulkan 4 issue pertama Star Trek Ongoing memiliki harga pasar senilai $18. Kalo beli masing-masing issue jumlahnya 4 dikalikan $3.99 = $12. Lho, kok lebih mahal?
  • Terbitnya beberapa lama setelah versi cerita di single issue selesai, kecuali pada saat-saat tertentu (contoh, Star Trek Countdown #4 terbit bersamaan dengan trade paperback collection-nya pada bulan April 2009).
  • Nilai jual kembali tidak setinggi komik single issue.

Jadi, kembali ke pilihan anda… lebih enak mengumpulkan komik bagaimana?

 

Salam Fiksilmiah!

I still haven’t watch Independence Day: Resurgence

Back when the first Independence Day movie came out in 1996 I sort of missed watching it at the cinemas. My cousin and best friend, Ernst, did go to the local cinema and queued with the rest of his friends. When the cinema doors were opened, the crowd were pushing and shoving him to the point he smashed a glass door and suffered minor cuts creating a scene… but still he managed to watch the movie.

I can’t quite remember why I didn’t watch the movie in the movie theater, but I watched it on VCD and the eventual DVD release.

 

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Now that the sequel is finally gracing our cinema screens, how can I still not watch this movie? The reviews are in… and many are saying it’s good. I prefer to defer my opinion until I actually see the movie.

Anyway, before I start writing a review, let’s sum up a few popular tropes that are most likely to appear in the film.

Alien invasion – ever since H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, alien invasion has been a very popular science fiction genre. The story of how the US-led Earth defenders manage to repel the first alien invasion by utilizing their technology is similarly repeated in stories such as XCOM: Enemy Unknown, V and Battlefield Earth.

United Earth government – I would assume that after the events of the first invasion (hello! We are no longer alone!), the governments of Earth are more united and would offer a better military defense than our current real life governments. Similarly in the Star Trek franchise, after humanity encountered the Vulcans (as portrayed in Star Trek: First Contact), within a century humanity was more united under a United Earth and were starting to be a part of the galactic civilization.

So, should I watch this movie or not?