Monday, August 29, 2016

Two Year Anniversary

Today is the two-year anniversary of my heart attack in 2014.

1/3 of my heart is still dead and will never come back. I generally have my weight, cholesterol and sugar under control, though the most recent data was six months ago and I am due for a checkup in a week or so.

Last night, I had a chat with a friend who recently was diagnosed with diabetes. Due to his input on his condition and my own risks, I am restarting my salad/high-fibre diet.

I have slacked off these past six months because I achieved great numbers during my last checkup. I need to lose a further 15kg and maintain my cholesterol levels at a healthy range.

After my heart attack in 2014, I read up on a ton of material about the condition. For my thing, life expectancy is not that high for people in the States.

Normal humans have an ejection fraction (ratio of blood pumped out by the heart vs amount coming in) of 60%. Athletes might be 70%-80%. Heart failure is below 40%. My ejection fraction is 41%. This will never change regardless of what I do.

So on a study of 1000 people with heart failure in the States, life expectancy is between six months to six years. Nobody knows the stats for anyone with 41% ejection fraction, though I assume it is that plus a few years.

Of course, my father also had a heart attack at 39 and went on to live for ... 36 years or so, so far. I don't want to live for another 30 years. 10 to 12 is enough, I believe.

I mean, I have no complaints. I'm doing good work and have outlets for my creative stuff. I will be free from all debts by this year. I have cut off cancerous people and things from my life. Most of them, anyway.

I do have goals before I die, but I have no expectations. And if I fail, it wouldn't matter anyway. I'll share one of them with you - I want to tell stories.

I am currently writing a film script that will be turned into a comic book. I will only allow a production company and a team I trust to produce the film, if any are interested, but I now and in the future have total creative control over the project.

There are several things to be done with my comics publishing company - Maple Comics. The beauty of having a small company is I can work with whoever the fuck I want and say no to anyone. My decisions do not affect many lives and the growth potential is always there, since it is so small.

Still, in 19 months, we have published 12 titles and looking at 17 by year end. There are targets and milestones for next year and I am exploring other revenue streams within the business.

I work out 3-5 times a week and will soon join Persatuan Alumni UM and make use of their clubhouse facilities to get even healthier. I am only interested in improving quality of life and not prolonging it.

Several people have tried to hook me up with various girls, but I don't think it's fair for them because I will die soon. It would be extremely selfish and most of these girls are not that enticing anyway.

My dream girl is Angela Merkel's brain in Angelababy's body, after a decade of Thai food diet. You cannot have a smell. I am turned off by odours.

Anyway, I'm writing stuff right now. If I die before my next update, know that my final words to everyone is: FUCK OFF AND DIE!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dungeon Mastery and Old Reunions

Today, my DnD group allowed me to do my first session as Dungeon Master.

I sucked really bad and there were moments of sheer terror, but I had fun learning how fucked up things are as a DM. My group seemed to have fun because they are the type that could have fun on their own anyway.

Having had my first taste as DM, I'm more than determined now to host my own game and create a new world sometime down the line. You either learn from your fuck ups or you will always repeat them.

After the three hour session, we played Cosmic Encounters for another three hours or so. After that, I rushed to Kelana Jaya for a high school reunion.

My batch will be celebrating our 20 years graduation anniversary next year and the guys have planned some things to give back to the school, our celebration dinner and the like.

I used to have a problem with my high school and the society we created there, but we're nearing 40 now. In 10 years, how many of us would remain standing, much less 20 years from now?

I am in a period of my life where I am closing books and writing epilogues. I'm preparing for death proper. I've always thought of how to die since I was 17 and saying goodbyes to everything is one of those items you wish you could plan for properly.

Looking back, I have lived quite a good life, all things considered.

Born in the swamp, in a third world country that mostly would not understand my ideas or ideals, I have done everything I could ever want, much earlier than I thought I could. Being the DM for at least one session - no matter how stupid and terrible it was - ranks as one of the things I never thought I would do.

I have not and will not trust people. But people seem to trust me. I'm not feeling guilty nor boastful. I just feel a sense of gratitude to the world for these small mercies.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Dichotomy Diagnosis for Dumbasses

You're all stupid. Accept that fact. And then go kill yourself.

Which brings us to Suicide Squad. I haven't seen it yet, opting instead to watch Jason Bourne and Star Trek Beyond. Both are okay movies. Who cares?

But the dumb thing that happened with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Just-Ass (BvS) is happening again. DC fanboys went ape-shit at bad reviews from critics and are clamoring for the review site Rotten Tomatoes to be shut down.

The petition, started by Abdullah Coldwater, has since been withdrawn. But the sentiment remains. As much as the racist shit we see from Trump and Brexit is neither gone nor forgotten even after it's clear that both causes were not meant to win anything, not even a checkers game..

Fuck politics, but DC fans' bullshit - this is serious.

Personally, after I published my review of BvS, some stupid cocksucking donkey-fuckers started judging and labeling me as a Marvel fanboy. They were even surprised I gave X-Men: Apocalypse a bad review.

This is because their tiny little brains can't see anything in this world as being other than a dichotomy. You're either PS or xBox. BN or DAP. Democrat or Republican, Feminist or Men's Rights Activists.

It has been documented that these idiots are not even Homo Sapiens, but remnants from that time when Homo Erectus fucked a Pan Paniscus and we have today's typical idiot. Thy're a different species so we hoo-mans must band together and put them in camps and then gas them. I call them Pan Provectus. Provectus is generous, as the word stands for upgrade or advanced or some shit. Basically, they're advanced monkeys on the account that they have thumbs and wear clothes, badly.

This eagerness to put people in 'either-or' camps is of course, egotistical. These Pan Provectus shits, their sense of self is tied to being in groups. They NEED to be in groups to feel safer and lower their IQ further.

This is why EVERY FUCKING ISSUE must be either-or and EVERYONE must be either-or. Coke or Pepsi? How about none? Fuck carbonated sugary drinks.

I will review the shit out of Suicide Squad. I really don't care as much for those characters as I do Batman and Superman so whatever. But mostly I do it because we must stand up to Pan Provectus.

The greatest evil in this world is not evil. It's stupidity. And we neutralise stupidity by being our awesome hyper-intelligent self.

Fuck all of you monkeys.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Random Thoughts Before Bed

Darwin said the species that will survive is not the strongest, or the smartest, but one that adapts the best to change. Or something like that.

I'm thinking of the comics scene, as I leaf through the latest comic I bought - the 'last issue' of Ujang and Apo? - I got at Pesta Buku Selangor.

The issue is the first Ujang or Apo? issue in a year or so, and it seems to be its last. There is a 'surprise', though, as you flip the cover and find the announcement to a new comics magazine - Bekazone.

Ujang inherited the mantle of Gila-Gila, the legendary comics magazine that sold over half a million copies every issue in its heyday. Some old comics hands put the number at over 600,000. This was the age where people actually read magazines. Even the lesser-read magazines such as Batu Api, Gelagat, Gelihati and the rest sold decent numbers then, that would have made them top of the pile nowadays, in this post-Internet world.

Even then, the numbers steadily declined and Ujang - though the best comics magazine in its time - managed to reach 200,000-300,000 copies per issue. 

I don't have the actual or accurate data and everything I quote here is anecdotal, so take everything with a grain of salt. I'm pissed off with this, but there you go.

I have long petitioned for various comics organisations in Malaysia to collect industry data so as to chart the scene properly and be able to improve things effectively when they have the means to do so.  Right now, if you ask anyone how many titles are there or how many publishers, no one can give you an accurate figure. Somebody knows, somewhere, but are they compiling it? Even Sasbadi - known to me and others as primarily a reference book publisher - has a comics imprint.

That, is another rant for another time.

After the Ujang magazine had its infamous crisis on infinite earths and the team split, a few magazines such as Gempak, Kreko, Urban Comics and Rileks fought over the vacuum. Gempak was the best-run, with a kick-ass distribution and financial muscle - strong fundamentals and sharp business acumen.

Gempak remains a force to this day, and they were bought over or something - I don't know shit, man! - by a Japanese comics company. Gempak books are now sold in 1900++ 7-Elevens as well as toko bukus and small mamak sundry shops, aside from their presence in major bookstore chains such as Popular.

The focus, it seems, has also shifted from the magazine alone to trade paperbacks - collections of comics stories instead of a monthly format. Gempak once sold over 70,000 copies fortnightly. If they still are doing those numbers, they would be the most popular magazine sold in stores in the country (Astro Mag has a subscription model).

I come from the newspaper industry and we all agreed that magazines would be the first sacrifice to the new Internet gods. And so it was. I currently do not know anyone below 40 that buys magazines or even reads them regularly. And 70% of our population are below 40.

Meanwhile, let's talk about digital comics. As far as I can tell - and I might be wrong - digital comics are the future, but the future is not now.

In 2014, digital comics sales in the States was US$100 million while print comics is US$835 million. 100 million dollars is a huge amount, right? And considering that it was only US$1 million several years ago for digital sales, this is good right? Well.

For one, sales growth for digital comics sales have decreased over the years. It was 180% in 2012, 29% in 2013 and 11% in 2014. Here's the clincher: Digital comics sales went down in 2015 to US$90 million. That's a 10% decline.

Japan's massive manga industry is safe, right? The newspaper with the largest circulation in the world is Yomiuri Shinbun. Number 2 is also Japanese - Asahi Shinbun. Surely print manga and digital comics for the techno-savvy Japanese society would thrive right?

Well, sales peaked in 1995 and then went on a downward trend. Manga magazines, graphic novels, all went down. When they go online, they were met with pirates who upload their comics and people download it for free. In the era of globalisation and borderless, pre-Trump economy, you'd expect they'd do well when they license their wildly popular stuff to the lucrative US or European market? Nope. Scanlators outnumber legit platforms and it has been - sparsely - documented that Japanese digital platforms fare even worse than their US counterparts.

Personally, I believe people - especially Malaysians - don't believe in paying for online content. They don't even like buying most things online, except tudung. Running Maple Comics, I can tell you less than 10% of our sales are online, except for some freak titles. 

I really can't say much about the local comics scene - it's not even an industry - BECAUSE I HAVE NO FUCKING DATA. I don't even know how many publishers there are, how many titles are produced in a year, how many artists are out there. I don't even know how many comics are in bookstores because NOBODY IS KEEPING TRACK. FUCK YOU. FUCK. YOU. YOU FUCKING MONKEYFUCKER!

I do know - anecdotally - that physical books is the way to go, for now. I believe that one day everything will be digital, but that day is much later than you might think.

So what does that mean for Bekazone or any comics magazines or periodicals? I don't know. If I know everything, I'd be a billionaire by now. I do believe that trade paperbacks are the way to go but if you have the financial muscle, magazines could be a good flagship to have.

There are other challenges for any magazines in Malaysia. They go through stringent control by the Home Ministry. They have GST. And you always suffer from a very short shelf life. A July edition of a magazine only has 2-3 weeks to market and sell. After that, it's stale bread.

Still, there are some good news. Some major players in the publishing world are entering the comics scene. They will bring more titles and some bookstores will take notice of this and perhaps there will be a push. I got some good vibes from some but we shall see what comes out of it, by end of the year.

There is an emerging crop of new artists who are fast and talented - a previously rare combination. Some artists are finding massive popularity on social media and this usually translates to better sales of their physical books.

The most refreshing thing I have found with young artists is that they come in with little to no baggage. Some know the very low expectations of a small comics scene. Many know international royalty rates - meaning I don't have to explain to them that I am not an evil corporation like Shin-Ra out to steal them of their millions.

As for the audience? The readers? Well, I believe that if you create something that is consistently good, you will slowly build a dedicated audience. Some will lose interest and drop off, some will stay on and you can attract new ones. You can never control people, regardless of what the 'experts' say. 

3. Icv2