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Malaysia’s top political cartoonist Zunar (real name Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque) and his team are launching a fortnightly political humour magazine, Gedung Katun (Cartoon Warehouse), filled with Malaysian parody and satire.
The ‘alternative cartoon magazine’ will probably have to compete head-on with the popular Gila-Gila publication in the comic magazine market – with one main difference: Gedung Katun’s caricatures will focus on political topics and raise awareness of current issues.
Chief editor Zunar spearheads a team comprising chief cartoonist Jonos (Nur Azlin Ngah), editor and illustrator Ronasina (Affendi), and cartoonists Enot and Haili.
Other cartoonist talents such as Roy, Cabai, Madsein, Kidol, Haili, Kawe, Oly, Deng, Ubilepih, Nur, Dikuk, and Fahmi have been roped in as contributors.
The 68-page magazine aims to provide alternative news with a touch of humour and satire. It will also provide a platform for cartoonists with a more critical perpective to develop their talents.
Among the loftier aspirations is to change the perception that cartoonists are just a bunch of jokers and show that they actually have their own positions on various issues. The magazine would provide an avenue for the Voices of Cartoonists to emerge – without fear or favour.
“The idea for the publication first came out of my discussions with friends such as Jonos and Ronasina a year ago, but has only now been realised,” says Zunar.
Gedung Katun will touch on current issues, politics, economics, human rights and reforms from an alternative perspective, based on the cartoonists’ own analyses.
The magazine, priced at RM4, will not be linked to any political party.
“It is not a magazine that will carry my own identity either,” says Zunar. “Instead, it will showcase the identity of a new group of cartoonists.”
Cartoonists will be given the freedom to put forward ideas to develop their own style and drawing technique.
The inaugural issue will feature issues such as MACC, PKFZ, Beng Hock’s death, free water in Selangor, the Abolish ISA rally, and the unity government proposal. Other issues covered include the teaching of maths and science in English, 1998 ‘nostalgia’, and Khir Toyo’s house.
An initial print run of 10,000 will be distributed throughout the country and if demand is encouraging, more copies will be printed.
Zunar is clearly hoping to leave behind a legacy in the local cartoon scene by providing an avenue for more Malaysian cartoonists to develop their talents and realise their potential.
It is a new challenge for the former editor of Suara Keadilan who achieved spectacular success during his previous five-year foray in the print media. When he joined Suara Keadilan in May 2004, the PKR tabloid had a circulation of only 10,000. By the time he left in May 2009, circulation had rocketed 12 times to reach 120,000 under his watch.
One final thought: Malaysia would be a much happier place if we had more cartoonists, musicians and artists around. Zunar and his team hope to fill this void and provide more space for cartoonists while at the same time raising public awareness of current issues from an alternative perspective.