With the Marvel and DC Universe busy saving the western world, who is there to save us when Brunei needs a hero? With AD Comics’ fresh-from-the-printer hero Tebuanman, we can now be at ease.

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf outlet at OneCity Shopping Centre hosted the launch of Brunei’s first comic book superhero. Created by the newly founded AD Comics, Tebuanman is not only their first comic book, but also the first superhero comic book to be published in Brunei.

Photo: Sutera/Safwan Sulaiman

Set in an alternate 2019 Brunei, a group of researchers came to the Green Jewel of Brunei to find a solution to a national crisis. People are missing, assumed kidnapped by a mysterious water creature. But who can help put a stop to this and how? How did Tebuanman come to be? Who is Tebuanman? Combining local tales, folklore, and setting and conveying it through modern means, The Chronicles of Tebuanman is an exciting addition to local publications.

Made with the support from so many artists with their special skills such as scriptwriter, pencil artist, inker, and letterer, it showcases the ability of local artists to astound with their collaborative efforts – in this case, these skills result in Tebuanman.  

Photo: Sutera/Safwan Sulaiman

The launching was conducted in panel-type sharing session on the inspiration behind Tebuanman and the process of production. With Suzie as the host, audience members get to know more from the words of the artists themselves, Khai Anwar, the scriptwriter, and Adi Farhan Othman, the pencil artist.

Bruneians might wonder, why Tebuanman when we used to have Awang Budiman? Adi sets his answers back to a comic book exhibition he attended last year; “the exhibition got me thinking about what kind of character I want my hero to exhibit. The first thing that came to mind is Awang Budiman but he’s not a comic book character. I felt the need to create a Brunei Superhero, which I based on Brunei’s Football Team who won the Liga Malaysia 1999 whose nickname was Tebuan”. Tebuan, for anyone unfamiliar with the term, is the Malay word for hornets.

Photo: Sutera/Safwan Sulaiman

With AD Comics and Tebuanman, Adi and Khai hoped to create a local comic book with international standards. The book is published in English, with a smattering of Malay lingo, but AD Comics hoped that by next year they will be able to publish a Malay Version. In the style of American comic books, there are also advertisements between the pages of the book.

While the idea of creating a comic book may sound simple, it is actually not. Khai and Adi asserted that the comic book took six months to complete, where Adi further elaborates that one page will take approximately two days to finish properly.

Many are involved in the creation of a comic book; you need scriptwriter, pencil artist, inker, flat artist, colourists, letterers. And that’s not including printing and publishing, which is why AD Comics exists.

Photo: Sutera/Safwan Sulaiman

“When we wanted to publish Tebuanman, we had difficulty in understanding how it could happen. Having navigated the maze that was publishing a comic book in Brunei, we decided to create an imprint that could help create local quality content with an international standard,” said Khai. Having traversed the whole process AD Comics exists to provide a platform for those in Brunei wanting to publish a comic book, making the whole process easier.

Having no platform does not deter them from their task. Instead, they created a platform, not only for themselves but for all those artists and writers out there who wish to create their own comics. Because of this, perhaps then, Khai, Adi, and all those involved are the heroes that Brunei needs. Tebuanman might be the hero in their story, but perhaps to any comic artist or writer in Brunei, the creators of AD Comics are the true heroes.

Photo: Sutera/Safwan Sulaiman