HAFIZUL Mohd Razali’s passion to create Sarawak-based superhero characters was kindled 10 years ago, when he wanted to contribute something to the community.
Hafizul, originally from Kuala Lumpur but now living in Senadin, Miri, with his Sarawakian wife Noorazrain, a daughter and a son, said he was inspired by the state’s diverse cultures to create a Sarawak-based superhero story with an edutainment sustainability message.
“I’ve noticed the tendency of many movies, especially of the sci-fi genre — to forget about Sarawak’s rich cultures. So I thought a fantasy storybook would be the best way for the global community to understand Sarawak’s progress towards sustainability from the environmental, technological, and social perspectives.
“That’s the reason behind Kapten Neo,” Hafizul told thesundaypost.
With a futuristic setting putting Sarawak in the period between 2020 and 2059, the Kapten Neo: Nanoken Series features the adventures of one of the characters, Dr Ion, and his mysterious team who travel through time to find a man called Kapten Neo, as they prepare to face an Avengers-like team.
Kapten Neo leads his special-ability squad, comprising Prof Nano, Isadora, Chi, and Pendeta Kudus.
At first, Dr Ion, through his unplanned time-travel back to 1511 in Melaka, experiences local historic events as they unfolded.
“In the pentalogy, we’re also going to explore the other parts of Sarawak. If the feedback from the local readers is good, our Kapten Neo Storybook Series can be sustained,” Hafizul said.
He added that the main message is environmental sustainability.
“We want the younger generation to be exposed to the importance of environmental care. This book is espousing the concept of edutainment which is still new in Malaysia.
“The publication is also a contribution to the community — by inviting them to play a role in maintaining environmental sustainability.”
Hafizul and his writer, Fizziany Ahmad, and his team of illustrators and collaborators are now working on the second book – Ken: Revolusi Nano.
Hafizul said in time to come, they could try distributing the books to schools, tourism offices, and even convenience stores and retail outlets.
According to him, the superhero characters were developed, using Sarawakian motives, from years of research in biomimetics, green technology, and interviews with locals.
To sustain the series as a Sarawakian-based superhero sci-fi, he hoped to get the support and encouragement from his Sarawak family, friends, and community.
“Who knows maybe one day this story can penetrate Hollywood.”
Hafizul constantly provides Fizziany, the writer and publisher based in Kuala Lumpur, with the content to kick-start the creative process of storyboarding and scripting.
“We’ll chat and discuss how the characters and stories intertwine, act and react to get ideas on how to draw them, according to their character sheets.
“Initially, the process was quite lengthy and complicated because Hafizul wanted the hero characters to be represented well,” Fizziany said, adding that both their research was not strictly literature-based.
“He goes out and talks to his friends in Sarawak – for example, Datuk Medan Abdullah, who is not someone who just reads from Google.
“It takes more than one year to produce the Kapten Neo: Nanoken Series — the costs of advertising, marketing, and production keep adding up,” Fizziany noted.
According to Hafizul, the first Series titled Gerbang Masa Makrokosmik (Macrocosmic Time Machine) was first sold in Kuala Lumpur in June.
He revealed publication of the second Series titled Ken: Revolusi Nano (Ken: Nano Revolution) is planned for August or September this year.
He hoped the books would be well-received in Sarawak, especially in Miri for a start.