Confession of a comic lover

By Nurul Hanani Hasmin

“I would rather spend my money on comics than buy other things like makeup or foods.  In fact, I rather starve and use my money to buy comics,” said Aina Shafiqah, a 23-year-old woman who loves to read comics.

Comics or also known as manga in Japan have successfully captured the hearts of people from all ages everywhere around the world. For those who have been growing up with comics like Batman, Superman and Spiderman or even Doraemon and Shin-chan, must have known the feeling when you read your favourite comic books whenever you were lazy to do your homework after a long, crazy day at school.

First time I saw Aina, she looked so focus searching and scanning all the titles of comic books at Kinokuniya, KLCC bookstore, while holding a stack of comics. It caught my eyes because I have never seen someone really into comics as much as her. I started to approach her to know more about her interest in comics. Fortunately, she agreed to my request to interview her on her obsession with comics. During our interview session I told her that I have never seen someone into comics like her.

She confessed that the moment she stands at the comic section, she cannot stop herself from grabbing all the comics she saw. “A bookstore that does not sell any comic is not a perfect bookstore to me,” she said. I was amazed to hear that the reason she’s working right now is to get money just to buy comics. She works as a supermarket supervisor near her house at Cheras, Selangor, and lives with her parents.

She added, “Every month, I will use almost half of my salary to buy comics.”. Since she lives with her parents, she does not hesitate to spend her money on comics. If everyone loves the smell of coffee in the morning, she loves the smell of comics better than coffee.

During our conversation, I could see her passion and interest when she talked about comics. She also has more than 1000 comics in her room back home. When asked whether her parents ever scolded her for having and reading too many comics, she laughed and answered, “It’s a benefit to them actually. Instead of scolding me, they threaten to sell my comics if I am not going to perform well in my studies and it helps me a lot.”

Nowadays, there are many websites and phone applications that allow you to read comics. Just like books, comics have also gone digital. Many readers prefer digital comic books as it is easier to purchase and get them instantly. There are also some websites such as Mangahere, Mangareader, and Mangafox that allow readers to read comics for free. Even so, Aina prefers to buy the comic itself instead of reading it online. She loves the feeling of flipping the pages of comic books instead of just scrolling through the desktop or smartphone.

Aina started to collect comics since she was 15. The reason why she started to collect comics is because of the drawings of the characters. According to Aina, she fell in love with the cuteness of the characters. She explained,“Comics’ characters that are drawn by the Japanese are cuter than others.” Most of her comics that she bought are from the Japanese artists or cartoonists. Most of her friends thought that she had a weird hobby. They told her, instead of wasting money on comics, she should use it on something more useful.

There are differences between comics drawn by the American and the Japanese. The American comics are mainly known for the superhero genre such as Marvel. On the other hand, the Japanese comics cover a wide range of themes; action, martial arts, horror, romance, and even comedy. The Japanese usually publish comics in black and white while the Americans’ are mostly in full, eye popping colour.

The price of the comics has also increased time after time. Aina stated.“I still remember when I was in high school, the price of comics was only RM6.50 compared to today which has increased to RM10”. She admits that her hobby did use a lot of money but like the old saying, “old habits die hard”, the heart wants what it wants. Even if she tried to stop herself from spending money on comics, it makes her wants even more.

It’s a wonderful experience to get to know someone who has different interest from us. Getting to know someone new makes me realised that everyone has different thought and perception. Thus, it is important for us to not only focus on our own perception but also others.***

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