US Embassy launches comic book Genesis by local creatives

The Embassy of the United States of America in Brunei recently unveiled a Bruneian-made comic book dubbed ‘Genesis’, a passion project funded by the US Embassy’s Small Grants programme.

The 75-page graphic novel is the brainchild of local creatives – Khai Anwar, Adi Farhan, Hanis Hashim, Richard Chin, Azim Diniy, Farhan Karim and Kelvin Ang.

Public Affairs Officer Jeff Barrus in his remarks at the book launch said that the foreign mission supports Bruneians telling stories in their own voices.

Image: Analisa Amu

“We believe local creators play a crucial role in inspiring and challenging the rest of us to see the world with fresh eyes,” said the US Embassy officer.

Genesis tells the adventure of six teenagers a few years in the future who are confined to their homes by a global pandemic.

“Our hope is that it will inspire Bruneian youth with its themes of resiliency in the face of changing climate, leadership amid adversity, the importance of friendship and mental wellness in overcoming the odds, and the value of environmental conservation,” added Barrus.

For his part, the writer of Genesis, Khai Anwar, said that the comic book revolves around life during a lockdown due to the pandemic and the effects caused by it, especially on the environment.

Image: Analisa Amu

“The story is about a group of teenagers being locked in their homes and it is getting worst as they cannot go out. So, life has adapted to that,” he said.

He added that with most people not being able to be outdoors and many activities being put on a halt, the environment gradually gets better.

“One of the effects of COVID is obviously when a lot of things shut down, the environment sort of healed on its own. We don’t drive anymore, and train services were shut down (in other countries) and all of that have contributed towards the healing of the environment. So, we thought, why not take that aspect of us going out less, us being involved with the world less meant that the environment is slowly starting to heal,” said Khai.

The writer further said that the core message of the story is people should be very careful with how society treats the environment.

“When nature started healing, monsters started coming out of the swamps and forests and things start to get wrong in the neighbourhood. The kids (fictional characters) think that the monsters are responsible for all this evil,” he said, adding that the environment is not the enemy, but we are.

Image: Analisa Amu

Talking about the successful completion and publication of the book, Khai said that not only the US Embassy’s small grant programme has enabled it but also the outstanding cooperation given by the mission’s team members.

“This is my first time working with a diplomatic consul and they were extremely understanding. When we finally see the book, everybody realised it is something special and I think this is not something that is being done a lot in Brunei. It has been a dramatic one and a half year,” shared Khai.

Sharing about his team’s decision to venture into publishing the comic book, the writer said that because it is a globally popular medium.

“Movies worth billions of dollars were being made from comic books such as DC and Marvel and yet we don’t have the industry here…We want to let people know that this is a feasible medium, it works, and hopes Genesis reaches the right audience,” he concluded.

In its bid to support local creatives, the US Embassy is committed to distributing Genesis for free across Brunei, making the copies available in schools, bookstores, and cafes, among others.

The US Small Grants Programme provides funding for projects and initiatives that further US Government foreign policy objectives and promotes bilateral cooperation and mutual understanding between the United States and Brunei.

For more information, interested individuals may visit their website at and follow them across social media platforms at @usembassybsb.


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