The Maltese Comic Scene: Growth Along the Years

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The hybrid medium that is the comic has, for quite a few years, been regarded as a formidable artistic/entertainment medium. It has moved away from the age-old stigma that was associated with it, where its mixture of illustration and writing through sequential storytelling was simply thought of as being a lesser option to literature on the one hand, and visual art on the other. At a time when foreign production of comics, such as in America, Japan, France and so on, were flourishing, Malta was only just finding its feet.

The first attempts at local comic creation came about in the late 70s and early 80s, with such exponents as Ġorġ Mallia, Joseph Farrugia, Mikiel Galea and Victor Pulis churning out comics for local publications such as the children’s magazine Sagħtar, that later on adopted the comic strip format extensively. According to Ġorġ Mallia, the publication of the fortnightly comics anthology Il-Komik in 1983, “filled the blank that was in the market” with around 5000 copies printed for every one of its nine issues.. Unfortunately, poor distribution killed the publication which had already found an audience.

All of which paved the way to the more vocal and active present day landscape, heavily influenced by the presence of the official Malta Comic Convention in the past five years. Dr Mallia recalls working hard with his co creators to pioneer the scene in Malta in the eighties, because “kids read the English DC Thomson comics (Beano, Dandy, etc), but none of those who really loved comics here, and had the talent to produce them, had an outlet.”

The Comic Con as an event finally offers local creators a forum in which to promote and hopefully sell their work, as well as to interact with each other and legendary foreign guests such as David Lloyd (V for Vendetta) and Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), to name a very few.

Micheal Quinton, co-founder of the event, and who forms part of the “Wicked Comics” team, positively says, “We definitely do have a comic scene in Malta now…we are now seeing how the initial building blocks were essential in order to create it.” A substantial increase in public attendance and interest were also noted in the last couple of years. “People are coming to the convention with objectives in mind. They want to spend money and they know what they want to buy.”

The output has no doubt been more diverse and prolific than in the past, with independent print releases such as Dean Fenech’s Apocalypse Rocked, Fabio Gangiolini’s For Gallantry along with Bernard Micallef and Jeanelle Zammit’s manga influenced publications. Alongside them were Agius and LeGalle’s graphic novel The Golden Lizard,, comics from the “Il-Komiks tas-Sikkina” team and The Pilot Comic Anthology that boasts different short comics by different creators working around the same theme. and others. Michael Quinton further stresses that the Comic Con encourages more output for the platform to keep flourishing.

Yet this being said, the same drawbacks that the original scene came across back in the eighties are still here today. The Maltese creator, be it a musician, an artist or a writer, has had to struggle with the little to no education there is on how to go about enhancing creative skills. So a certain lack of instructed approach can be observed, as Audrienne Degiorgio, co-founder of the “Pilot Collective” points out. “Even though there are attempts at establishing more know-how, the caliber is still very low… there is the need for more people who interest themselves in how a comic is made. In terms of design this is very important.”

Such a sentiment is shared by Ġorġ Mallia as well, saying that the island needs “a creative node… something like the Comics School in Malmö, Sweden, that gives a concentrated exposure of two years to people who want to do comics seriously. I believe that the market can be created if the right sort of effort is made. If the supply is good enough, maybe the demand will grow.”

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KSU announce plans for Fresher’s Week

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In a press conference at the student house common room, KSU gave an outline of their plans for the upcoming fresher’s week and student’s fest, the annual fixtures which traditionally kick off the scholastic year on campus.

KSU secretary general, John Gabaretta said that KSU had collaborated with various entities among them companies, corporate sponsors as well as a number of voluntary, student and political organisations to deliver a jam-packed start to the upcoming scholastic year. KSU will once again be conducting student registration through a facebook app, similar to last year, which will then entitle students to redeem a welcome pack from the KSU’s stand on quad. This is to consist of a diary and a magazine among various other items provided by sponsors,  including a drinking flask, headphones and a stand for mobiles & tablets..

Gayle Lynn Callus, KSU’s commissioner for culture and entertainment outlined the plans for this year’s student’s fest which will officially be called “the KSU Pepsi Campus Fest”  and which will be themed along the lines of a “vintage circus”. The campus fest will feature various local artists among them the renowned Ira Losco and Gianni’s band, Rug. They will be joined by “the Hard Rock Battle of the Bands” winners, Mana Tapu and Kazinska, a local group which does ska covers of traditional Maltese songs.

For this year’s campus fest, KSU decided to launch a new initiative; a call for student bands, from which one band was to be chosen to form part of this year’s line-up. The initiative required that all band members be university students and that their style be compatible with this year’s theme of “vintage circus”, and also that they be within KSU’s budget. From the applications received, the chosen band was Sky Circus. Callus also announced that KSU had reached an arrangement with Arriva to provide transport after campus fest.

This year’s campus fest will also feature a number of initiatives including a “green initiative” in collaboration with Simond’s Farsons Cisk, whereby students may exchange 15 pieces of waste for a free drink. Also in collaboration with Farson’s, KSU will be organizing a campaign which is intended on educating students on responsible drinking.

Callus also outlined how as students we must not only have fun but also think about people in need. Hence KSU will be launching a wristband initiative, whereby students may purchase a wristband for the cost of 1 euro. All funds collected will go directly into the KSU charity fund, and be distributed to various charity organizations throughout the year.

The press conference was concluded by Thomas Bugeja, KSU President, who  thanked everyone for attending and outlined that KSU’s aim as an organization is the improvement of student life on campus. He explained that all funds raised through such initiatives will be returned to the students through KSU’s various funds among them the Student Organizations Fund, Culture Fund, Transport Fund, Research and Opportunities fund, Junior College fund and the KSU charity fund.


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Living the Dream – Voices 2012

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With just a few hours to go for Voices’ opening night, your InsiterOnline editors Chiara Bartolo and Desiree’ Attard have luckily managed to lay their hands on two tickets for last night’s final rehearsal at the beautiful Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta, and can exclusively report to you, our faithful audience, on the happenings of the night. We promise not to spill the beans on the best parts of the show, but we will prepare you for the ‘dream flight’ that is this year’s Voices concert.

The ‘Dream’ theme chosen for this year’s soirees is strongly felt throughout, from the cloud-like stage setting to the songs featured. Keeping things flowing are presenters Josef Bonello and Ronald Briffa, who periodically inject humour breaks as well as sticking to the chosen theme: from taking the audience on a flight of fantasy to confessing their own secret dreams, the two characters provide comic relief and continuity to the show.

Voices is, indeed, the brainchild of the late Louis Naudi’s dream. Way back in 1991, the originator and founding member of Voices, Louis Naudi envisaged a musical performance on a national scale. His dream has certainly come to life: this year’s concerts, running for 10 days, are made up of a 200-strong choir, a band of 11 musicians and another 100 people involved backstage. Strength is surely in numbers, as the people involved are not only living the Voices dream, but are also dream makers, in the sense that the aim of Voices is to reach out to those in need. All proceeds from the concerts are donated to charity and chosen beneficiaries. In addition, a lead project is selected and funded.

This year’s main project is ‘Dar Mamma Margherita’, a Salesian adventure that aims to support youths in difficult family situations who risk homelessness. The idea is to create a bridge into adult life by offering a subsidised accomodation for a few years, in return for serious commitment towards work or education. ‘Dar Mamma Margherita’ will offer six studio flats to these young people to use as a stepping stone towards their future.

As for the concert itself, it is indeed a dream to behold. The choir, donning bright T-Shirts, are a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. Well-thought choreography ensures that the scene is not a stationary one, as the singers, perched on ‘clouds’, sway as one to the beat of the songs, or move their hands in unison. Making 200 people clap or move in perfect synchronization whilst singing harmonies at the same time is no mean feat, but Justine Odom and Gillian Portelli have accomplished it, and the result is a delight to watch.

The song lineup is varied to say the least. From Abba to Pink Floyd, Adele to Michael Jackson, most songs are well-known and will make you dance in your seat. Naturally, this variety of genres will mean that not all songs are to everyone’s liking, yet one cannot but appreciate the musical talent in this team. Most soloists were incredible and gave very emotional performances which gave us goosebumps; some were better than others, some lacked character, but on the whole both soloists and choir members were excellent, and if there were any tiny glitches (there were), they were outweighed by the spectacular energy the performers gave. It was evident that they gave their all on stage and were enjoying it. Which is definitely remarkable, considering that the show was a whopping four hours long. Thank God the seats at the MCC are comfortable.

In conclusion, the whole production had a perceptible dreamy feel to it – by the end of the show, the audience was most definitely in a very positive, albeit weary, mood. Genuine smiles could be seen all around, and that is the highest praise one can give to a show – the ability to induce happiness and peace. One last sneaky giveaway on the night? Just when you think it’s over, it isn’t.

Voices – Dream a Little Dream are held at the MCC from the 3rd – 7th and the 10th – 14th October.

(Photos: Chiara Bartolo)

Posted in Culture, Media, Music, Theatre

We’re Growing and We Want You!

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For twelve consecutive years, Insite has been a constant within the University community.  This year, the new executive is looking to recruit fresh talent and expand the organisation. Creating a vast array of posts, ranging from editors to broadcasters, Insite is allowing students throughout the entire expanse of courses to find a niche and establish their roots. Connecting with Insite will allow one to expand horizons and experience life within the media, which is one of the most influential areas of modern day life.

Insite’s Orientation day will be held on the 20th September, from 5.00-7.00pm, in the Common Room in Students’ Building. Students are invite to come and meet the whole team, which is made up of the CEO and Secretary General, as well as the Media, Operations, Development and Sales and Marketing Offices. Members of the executive will be there to answer any questions you may have and you’ll also be able to sign up and become members of Insite. It’s not just about writers and photographers either – we have posts available in a broad range of fields from event logistics to sales, broadcasting to design.

Afterwards new recruits are invited to join the team for drinks at Nordic Bar, Paceville – the more, the merrier!

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Students urged not to leave valuables in library bag depository

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The director of the University library has urged students to avoid leaving valuables in the library’s bag depository. Continue reading

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ETC Youth Days

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Photos from ETC youth days.

Continue reading

Posted in Media, News