The art scene has been thriving lately with back-to-back exhibitions being held at Galeri Seni Dermaga Diraja at the Waterfront in Bandar Seri Begawan – from the 2nd all-women exhibition, Art to Heart to the most recent Comic Art Exhibition hosted by local cartoonists called ‘Kami Urang Brunei’.

Comic art is a medium for artists to tell a story through a series of drawings accompanied by texts. The exhibition features more than 100 artworks over the course of a week from over 31 comic artists.

Photo:Sutera/Safwan SIdek

We interviewed Norhadi Bin Ibrahim, a postgraduate student at Universiti Brunei Darussalam, where his research paper is on the comic industry in Brunei.

His participation in the exhibition included a collection of superheroes in Brunei that he had developed called Lagendarian – Mutiara, Lela Menchanai, Raden Bisa, Dang Ambon and Dang Kumala. Hadi explains that each character has their own stories, which was inspired by local tales or folklore in Brunei.

Photo:Sutera/Amir Hazwan

“The idea started in 2015 for UBD Spectacle, where I created five local heroes however my supervisor wanted to add elemental powers of fire, water, forests, earth and metal to the characters, which brought me to these five folklores and tales that contained those elements,” he said.

He further stated he was inspired to use the tales because he always had an interest in Bruneian legends and stories, due to his background as a Malay literature student. In the future, he hopes that he will be able to use the characters to produce comics and with exhibitions like Kami Urang Brunei, it can be a possibility.

Photo:Sutera/Amir Hazwan

“I personally feel that the comic exhibition is an important platform for comic artists to promote themselves, especially amateur artists. Other than that, this is also a great way to showcase Brunei abundance in creative talent,” he added.

Hadi also feels that the comic art scene in Brunei is growing but is not fully developed and hopes that the country will start to appreciate the art scene more, so that more comics from Brunei will be made and even exported to other countries.

Photo:Sutera/Amir Hazwan

Hadi is just one out of 31 local artists that showcased their art. These artists showcased their talents by telling a story on comics based on personal experiences, superheroes and Brunei Culture. With the growing amount of cartoonist in Brunei, it will be hopeful that exhibitions like this will allow them to showcase more of the local comics in the country or even outside the country.