Singapore Part 3

17 12 2008

Wednesday – Friday

For three days, most of my time is spent teaching the graphic novel workshop. This is the first time I’ve gone to a foreign country to do a job, and I’m happy to experience the place from the inside. I try to start things off with a lesson in cartooning, ask for someone who can’t draw, and my volunteer draws a beautiful horse. But that’s a very minor glitch, and everything goes really well. The students are enthusiastic and imaginative and friendly. The projects are full of surprises, the discussions are lively. On the second day the whole class works together on this 35 page story. (Note: some of the pages read right to left. Also, I lost my list of students’ full names. Students, if you see this, please write and remind me of yours.)

One night we get out to the Seafood Center at East Coast Park and sample the national dish: chili crab. We aren’t sure how we’re supposed to eat it– the crab is in the shell and covered in sauce–  so we dive in and make a huge mess and it’s delicious. Nearby is a water-skiing ring; handlebars hang down on cables that attach to an overhead track. You hang onto the handlebar and get pulled around on water-skis. There are ramps you can use, but everyone we see wipes out when they try them.

 After class on Wednesday, Marcie takes me to a comic shop she found. Looking for something I wouldn’t find at home, I get volumes 1 and 2 of The Resident Tourist by Troy Chin. It’s a (or perhaps the) Singaporean alternative autobio graphic novel. Reading it was like discovering an old friend who knows all the local touchstones. Why do we visit other countries? To see and do things we can’t see and do at home, sure, but we also want to engage with the culture on a meaningful level, which is not always possible. Chin’s story about returning to his country of origin after living in New York provides the perfect bridge. His books clued me in with an insider’s perspective on Singapore– or more accurately, an outsider insider’s perspective. Like pretty much every independent comic artist, Chin rejects a lot of the societal norms. As the title says, he’s both native and non-native at the same time. A kindred spirit to all us outsiders, and more revealing than any tour guide, and entertaining to boot. From now on, any time I visit another country, I will look for the local underground autobio graphic novelist.

Saturday

dscn0458My class is over, and we’ve got one more day. There is an anime festival going on this weekend, so we hit that in the morning. It’s inside one of these gigantic multi-purpose superstructures. I’m hoping for more volumes of Deathnote, my newest manga addiction, but there’s hardly any manga or videos; toys and models dominate. I could easily fill a suitcase with toys, but limit myself to 3 modestly sized robots. The best part is the displays of storyboards and conceptual artwork.

 

dscn0551After that, we take a taxi to the island of Centosa, the southernmost part of Singapore and of continental Asia. (Even though it’s an island? Yes, that’s what we’re told.) We visit Underwater World, and the Butterfly & Insect Museum. Marcie gets the spa treatment where little fish chew on your feet, and I walk along the beach, which is basically a nonstop party. It’s fun and all, but a little sterile. The attractions could just as easily be in San Francisco.

And that’s pretty much it. There was some talk about me coming back to teach another workshop. It’s too early to say whether that will happen, but I hope so.

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One response

18 12 2008
sampan

I really like the very first photo, with you and Tsui! I think there’s really something special between you two huh? Teehee~ Enough with the teasing, I also like Amayalee’s. Her outfit is awesome. Yours and FuyuMaiden’s are also cute. You have some talent for drawing!

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