The inaugural CoMEL literary event (“CoMEL 2016”) was held in Kuala Lumpur on 24 September 2016 at the refurbished Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau located on Jalan Tangsi, in conjunction with the Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival (“KL DiverseCity 2016”) held from 31 August to 2 October, 2016.
CoMEL 2016, which was organised by SmallPrint Sdn Bhd with the support of Scicom (MSC) Berhad and officiated by Puan Nori Abdullah Badawi, decided on “The Magical Journey into Picture Books” as its theme and sought to set itself apart from other literary festivals by focusing not just on books as the source of children’s stories but also extended the spotlight on multi-dimensional aspects of story-telling.
CoMEL 2016 therefore wanted to ensure that its panel of speakers and presenters included renowned local and award winning international authors, illustrators and storytellers who shared the inspiration for their stories and the motivation behind their works.
For CoMeL 2016, the panel speakers and presenters consisted of:
- Canadian author Rukhsana Khan;
- Malaysian artist Jalaini Abdul Hassan;
- Australian illustrator and author James Foley;
- Spanish artist Javier Zabala;
- Professor Dr Safiah Osman and Azleen Osman Rani from Malaysia; and
- Comedian and storyteller Harith Iskander from Malaysia.
At CoMEL 2016, distinguished Canadian author, Rukhsana Khan spoke about growing up as a young girl of Pakistani descent in an impoverished migrant family living in a largely Caucasian privileged neighbourhood in Canada and how the daily struggles she had had to undergo led to her seeking refuge in books and motivated her to write stories for children, including stories to promote cross cultural understanding between people of different backgrounds.
At the event, artist Jalaini Abdul Hassan from Malaysia shared with the audience on how the power of images impacted his life and inspired his story telling through the medium of art.
Following the huge success of his illustrations in “The Last Viking”, celebrated Australian illustrator and author James Foley spoke about the process and ideas behind his latest work entitled “Brobot”, a graphic novel for younger readers, which he both illustrates and writes. He also took the audience through his unusual zombie rabbit tale, “My Dead Bunny” which was shortlisted by 2016 Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards for Picture Book of the Year and also shortlisted in the Fiction for Older Readers category for the 2017 Young Australian Best Book Awards.
Javier Zabala, a prominent artist from Spain gave a presentation demonstrating how artists extract inspiration in creating their masterpieces of visual storytelling.
Professor Dr Safiah Osman and Azleen Osman Rani, a Malaysian mother-daughter team, shared with the audience the idea and motivation behind their “City Mouse, Country Mouse/ Tikus Bandar, Tikus Desa” book project as an initiative to promote the love of literature and storytelling particularly among underprivileged children. To date, their “Tikus-find a home” book project has seen their delightful book being distributed to inner rural villages both in this country and Indonesia as well as urban underprivileged children in Malaysia.
Lastly, “The Godfather of Stand Up Comedy” in Malaysia and winner of the Funniest Person in the World Competition in 2016, Malaysian Harith Iskander delighted audience members at CoMEL 2016 with his storytelling session of “Ghost Stories of My Childhood”.