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I think it’s safe to say that that is a pretty good estimate on number of fans of anime, comics and video games here. In fact, it’s even safe to say that Comic Fiesta is a good measuring stick for anyone interested to learn the size and scope of the anime community here in Malaysia.
Let’s put things in perspective, just to show you what I mean. In 2002, the very first Comic Fiesta was held in the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall. It had about four artist booths and approximately 500 visitors. With every iteration of CF, the crowd grew bigger thus the venues used had to grow bigger as well. Fast forward ten years later, Comic Fiesta 2013 occupied the entire ground floor of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and served a crowd of about 40,000 people.
500 and 40,000 visitors. The crowd grew about by 80 times over the past 11 years. From the statistics kindly provided to us by SAYS Youth Society (formerly known as the Comic Fiesta Organizing Committee), CF has been steadily growing at a rate of about 50% annually.
It’s an amazing growth, for an non-profit event, powered 100% by unpaid volunteers, scavenging funds from ticket and booth sales as well as various sponsorship deals and packages. For a long time CF remained to be one of the most successful independent, home-made events, cobbled together by nothing more than a group of friends who pooled together their resources and talents.
Like many other passionate ACG fans, I was among those who has served in the CF committee for a while. It has been fun, for the most part. The rest of it is a lot of planning and meeting and ground work. Everything was done to deliver the best experience to the visitors.
A lot of the work behind-the-scenes, however, remains unseen by the fans. The year spent driving to meet clients. The long monthly meetings. The book-keeping. The tedious recruitments. The various agreements and contracts signed. The papercuts, the sleepless nights, the anxiety, the panic attacks. These and so many more, happening in places where you can’t see them.
All that work, and not a single cent goes into their pockets.
The problem is that these volunteers are often students or individuals committed to a full-time day job and CF is a part-time, passion project. Only a few individuals are privileged enough to be able to work on CF full-time. Thus comes the occasional errors, and miscommunications. Which, if you think about it, is forgivable.
Unfortunately, a lot of fans don’t see that. Many of them have a very simplistic view on how CF is run every year. There’s a common idea that resonates with the fans.
I paid tickets for this event, so I expect it to be flawless.
Any mistakes is simply unprofesional and inexcusable.
Every year, CF is plagued with a variety problems. The biggest problems often involve crowd management. This is largely affected by the size of the hall, the floorplan and layout of the booths, positioning of the stage, and queue management.
Every year, the ticketing counters strive to run as efficiently as possible, to ensure the queue doesn’t stagnate.
Every year, the volunteers try their best to direct the crowd and manage the queue to avoid confusions.
Every year, the committees attempt to recruit as much help and provide as much training as possible to the volunteers.
Even then, the same problems keep repeating themselves, and I would like to say that it’s not entirely the committees fault. Anime Shrine learned that CF received over 300 applications for volunteers (also known as Felynes), but among the 300 applicants, only about 100 of them showed up during CF. This team of 100 young men and women were distributed over 12,000 square meters of exhibition space, to attend to the needs of about 40,000 energetic visitors.
Think about that for a moment. 40,000 visitors, and about 50 committee members, and 100 volunteers. To be able to deliver a flawless event without getting paid a single cent would be like asking for a miracle.
Needless to say, there’s always room for Comic Fiesta to continue to improve every year. There’s a demand for better facilities, more open slots for artist booths, more interesting VIPs, etc. but every single one of those demands costs money that CF does not necessarily have at its disposal.
Being an independent, volunteer-organized event, Comic Fiesta continues to bootstrap itself and optimise its expenditures and efforts with every passing year. We wish the SAYS and the CF committee all the best and continue to be the symbol of ACG culture in Malaysia in the years to come.
The 2013 edition of Comic Fiesta came and went, and certainly it did not dissapoint, at least in the eyes of Japanese Culture fans in Malaysia. This two day celebration of Manga, Anime and Cosplay is certainly the largest ever, with over 40 thousand fans in attendance. It’s a nice bump from the 25 thousand visitors last year and firmly stamped Comic Fiesta as THE premiere ACG event in Malaysia. (more…)