Comic book collecting in Asia - and why I can't wait for SDCC '11!
Every time I log in and view recent journals from my esteemed fellow collectors (e.g. the recent posting of Doc Joe and others), I'm always inspired to jot down and share my thoughts (End of preamble)
Over the last several years, I've been going around and living overseas, staying in places where as a child avidly reading and collecting Marvel and DC comic books in Manila I'd never dreamed of going. Right now I'm based in Singapore, having moved over from Thailand a few months back. And everytime I move to a new location/country, finding the nearest place to buy comics is top on my 'to do' list.
In my experience out here, comic books never got the traction/widespread readership, as it did in the US. Even in countries where theres either a lot of western cultural influence (e.g. Philippines, which had been a US colony until WW2) or integration (e.g. Singapore, with a large western expatriate population), the options are limited. A part of me always envied friends/family living in the States - conventions left and right, comics widely distributed/available, and (relatively speaking, given the shipping premiums) cheap! As a child (and until now), I always looked forward to whenever we visit friends and family in the US, as the trips were always a great opportunity to purchase bundles of books, subject only to the limits of allowable carry on & checked in luggage.
Here in Singapore, there are two major comic book outlets where I regularly purchase the most recent releases from. Books Kinokuniya, located at the huge Takashimaya shopping mall here, undoubtedly has one of the best selection of hardcovers and trades in the city-state. There's another smaller outfit, Absolute Comics, which specializes in both recent issues as well as trades (though nowhere near the size of Kino). I find that these two stores are able to satisfy by basic reading/collecting craving, but I'm not sure how long they can stay operating (I've seen 2 other shops in Singapore close down in recent years). For my CGC purchase/collecting needs, there is unfortunately no other option other than going online (and finding ways to deal with the price premium/ disadvantage an overseas bidder would have versus a domestic US bidder vying for the same, US-based item).
I'd also attended last year's Singapore Comic Convention with my son, and left very disappointed (it was probably 95% manga-cosplay-anime themed which I'm really not into, and ended up with zero purchases for myself, though admittedly my son had a blast).
I guess one part of me feels that the industry I've loved and been into all these years is sunsetting, which of course saddens me a bit. But then I go into the CGC portal (reading journals, messages etc) and browse through Ebay, Heritage and other auctions online, read recent releases from great creators like Brubaker, Bendis, Ennis and Johns, and I can clearly see that there's still a lot of 'life' in the hobby, which as mentioned above I always find inspiring. And my young kids, who have never been to a 'real' comic convention, are wondering why I'm so excited planning for our upcoming San Diego trip in July (can't wait for them to experience this, first hand).
I love this hobby!