DESPITE his background in 3D animation, Abu Huzaifah is a cartoonist at heart.
He grew up reading Malaysian comics, but a trip to Indonesia convinced him that a career in cartooning lay ahead.
“I went into a book store and saw a wall of comic books,’’ said Abu.
“ Manga and Indonesian comic books. While the titles were few, the quality of those Indonesian comics sparked a flame in my heart for cartooning.’’
In 2015 he and Mior Abdul Muneer Mior Muhammad won the 2015 Doodle Art Battle at PopConAsia in Jakarta.
Today Abu is the creative director and one half of Sahabat Komik Creative Solution (Sako+).
Together with project manager Mior Azhar, they champion and cultivate local comic talents through events and programmes.
This year marked the sixth year that they organised the #InkRamadan. The idea is similar to InkTober, the annual campaign to promote art started by Jake Parker. However, #InkRamadan is during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“Most are from the Southeast Asia region with a Malay population such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and Singapore. It spans 35 days because a lot of folks want to draw about how they prepare for Ramadan and how they celebrate Eid as well,” explained Abu.
Some participants, like Abu, take it a step further and turn their work into a book.
Last year, Abu worked with writer Khairil Kamaruddin – and with the help of Comicore INK – published a Ramadan Iema & Ciko, a collection of one-panel comics done during #InkRamadan.
Khairil wrote the story while Abu drew. Each panel is based on the lesson and message of selected passages from the Quran.
“We chose a female main character because there are very few female leads in Malaysian cartoons. It was also based on the advice of Khairil who worked with school students and found that this idea would be the most acceptable for them,” said Abu.
Today #Ink Ramadan is also a twice- weekly podcast streamed live on Facebook. It features artists from around the region.
Sako+ is currently in the last stretch of releasing Directori Kartunis Perak in cooperation with People Of Remarkable Talents (PORT) and Perak Cartoon Fest (Pecaf).
The book contains information and works of 65 cartoonists from all over Perak and is meant as both an archive of cartoonists from the state and a contact listing for these talents.
The idea for the directory came about during the 2019 Perak Cartoon Festival.
It turns out that a lot of Malaysian cartoonists come from Perak.
They decided to create the Directory Kartunis Perak.
Even with 65 entries, it is still not comprehensive. Some artists passed away in 2020, while some were not confident with the idea and did not participate in the project.
“Perhaps once they see the physical book they would join us,” said Abu.
The team at PORT admitted that it was a tough process as some cartoonists were not tech-savvy and needed help to submit their work and information.
Directory Kartunis Perak is tentatively set to be released on May 8.
In 2020, Seko+ could not hold events to promote local cartoonists. Instead, they produced Docutoon, a 12 part documentary about Perakian cartoonists, now available on YouTube.
Abu and Mior, under Seko+ have a lot of programmes and activities in mind – from conventions to competitions and showcases at Kellie’s Castle.
In the meantime, Abu still draws cartoons and even takes commissions through Fiverr, the freelance service market.
“Most commissions come from abroad, such as USA,’’ said Abu.