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It is the smaller box on a page in which the images are drawn. A panel consist of one drawing that depicts a single momen in time. Scream Bubbles: Indicate a character is screaming or shouting. They have jagged Edges. Thought Bubbles: This bubbles used to show internal thoughts of a character. Usually cloud shaped and connected to owner by a series of smaller bubbles. Television Bubble: This bubbles used to show an expression from television or radio and other audio device.
But, there are many kinds of shape like oval, cloud that indicates the dreams, while jagged can indicate anger. Usually used in comics as a pictorial representation of a sound effect like explosions, crashes, impacts, blows, sound of typing with keyboard, environtment, engines, etc. Drawing comic is easy! You dont need any talent or ability to draw. Just take your stationaery and some papers, draw some empty panels, fill your panels about anything you want, draw callouts and captions, fill the callouts, and voila!
Your made your own comic! However, to make the good comics such as Superman, Batman, The Avengers, Naruto, One Piece, etc, you need everything you have to know how to make your own comic. Like Characters, Traits, Theme, Story, etc. Characters are person who give a role on story.
But, the kinds of intimate self, historical, social, political, or cultural criticism found in many free-world independent and mainstream comics are rare in Indonesia. Often lacking reflection and self-questioning at either a personal or political level, the epic traditional comic, as well as the underground efforts, both add to, as well as reflect, the current atmosphere of guarded reserve and increasing isolation.
The message in these comics is often acquiescence nrimo and no longer acquiescence based on awareness and knowledge eling lan nrimo. What I have termed problems of identity, then, refers to a widespread avoidance of expressing a self within -- and even minimally in contact with -- the current socio- political environment. Instead, contextual realities are replaced by translations of not just western stories but also western perspectives and ideal solutions within indigenous contexts.
The results are often quite surreal but without the sense of playful intention expected from chance encounters. Yet, in all fairness, the harshness of my criticism reflects my own frustration more than local realities. Take into consideration the economic pressures faced by young artists and the social pressures to conform with received standards within the art academies and galleries and we are better able to understand why they are increasingly forced to sell-out.
In the face of real-world pressures, then, very few have the funding, social flexibility, or courageous inclination to discover what free expression really means.
This also can explain why such a seemingly large number of young artists in the art center of Yogyakarta end up taking mainstream jobs to support their families, while others resort to drugs, alcohol, social behaviors intended to shock, and all too frequently, insanity. Regardless of their limited distribution, the independents are all we have as a representative of the uncensored indigenous comic book. They are most definitely worthy of discussion. Independent Comic Books Independent comic books fall into two main categories, the art school and the NGO independent.
We will take them in that order. The art school indies would be the most limited in terms of accessibility and distribution. These comic books are often weird waton aneh , have little if any story, and tend toward the pornographic.
In terms of students at the Yogyakarta campus of the Art Institute of Indonesia, the work of the art school drop-out, Athonk, is what triggered the new interest in comic book production. First inspection of the Bad Times Story reveals that all the main characters are devils. Nothing is necessarily what it would seem and all things must be taken for their own merit.
But what have devils with halos, punks in conservative Java, and questions of good and evil have to do with Indonesian comics or politics? As the artist writes, the Bad Times Story is "a story of an endless warfare.
It is a war of independence from oppression, the battle to be an individual, to speak freely and question the rules of order. The cruel and oppressive Authority is the angel. Athonk learned English through tourists and the other local youths who make their living serving them in the Sosro area. This comic is, then, written in what is termed "Sosro" English.
Regardless of how odd the language may seem, English is the language of free speech and expression, and as such, it is the language of choice even for those who may not be very proficient. In terms of visual symbols, the story is located in a tropical island paradise guarded by huge stone heads with the facial features of Salvador Dali. The island is called "Daliland. Second, one of the major art influences in Indonesia is Surrealism. Thus, as in his own life, these icons are huge, ever- present military figures, scrutinizing everything that occurs on Daliland.
Regardless of his own brushes with the Authority, the idealism of youth prevails in these attempts at understanding what freedom of expression may mean. Fortunately Athonk remains very close with his friends and colleagues at the Art Institute and in Javanese hierarchical fashion he is considered an elder brother to these younger generations of student artists. Many have followed Athonk in taking up the calls for both activism and comics.
One of the earliest in the recent comic output from the Art Institute is Selingkuh dishonesty, deception, corruption. This comic-cum-manual is entirely devoted to weighing out the pluses and minuses of deception with the ultimate goal of luring someone into sexual engagement. Regardless of the consequences, sex as the reward for a good deception heavily outweighs the negatives, at least in terms of its presentational build-up within the comic.
Is there a message here? Is this a mockery in the form of crude values or an honest depiction of social norms? Ben Anderson has said that sexuality in Indonesian comics is a device for exposing vulnerability and complicity Anderson Unlike the fine examples set by the heroic brothers of the wayang traditions 12 , Selingkuh places sexuality as the ultimate goal. The comic contains absolutely no sense of Javanese culture or perspective as it is supposed to be, no sacred Javanese civilization, and nothing refined, graceful, elegant alus.
None of the discursive politeness expected in Javanese interactions is apparent either. Instead, formulaic phrases reflect what is significant for youths on a type of self-inflicted exile from the lofty expectations of their elders and foreign scholars. English functions here, not as the language of free speech, but as the medium for insipid "pick-up" conversation.
English is also used in the listing of required selingkuh accessories: performance, transport, bar, doping, hotel. While all the actual steps leading up to sexual conquest are in English, the sex act as well as the hefty bill, the brief rush of guilt, and the final fight with the wife are all described through Indonesian words. Interestingly, the "Ending Perselingkuhan" the End of Deception is in English with the choice of ways to reach the "Suicide Alternatif" listed in Indonesian.
Interpretation of this linguistic code-switching can take many directions. Is this evidence of Western vulgarity destroying traditional values, or praise for modern economic and social advances as a means of simplifying a tradition of predatory male sexuality?
English here shows how selingkuh practitioners benefit from increased accessibility to selingkuh partners via tourism, bars, hotels, and so on, while the Indonesian language brings the whole experience back down to earth via the expense in real terms within the home. Is this comic an insult to Javanese culture and values or is it playful and imaginative? Finally, is it simply waton aneh weird for the sake of being weird? Core comics launched their first efforts through a series called Berteman dengan Anjing or Befriending Dogs.
As with Selingkuh, this is a group venture among art students. Each volume contains compilations of many individual and group efforts that all conform to one of three specific themes. The similarities end there. The introductory collection of three volumes takes all of its themes from dogs in an Islamic-influenced society that vilifies dogs.
Stairway to the Dog is full of science fiction stories with dogs as mad scientists, dog heaven where the dog gets to curse at and abuse people, space dogs fall in love with earth women, and other stories too weird to identify.
Since the Core Comic series 13 contains such a variety of artists and styles, some obviously very talented while others are weird and vulgar, it is quite difficult to "analyze" in terms of humor, style, meaning. Some efforts are clearly well crafted while others seem spur of the moment and rather shoddy. Some are thoughtful, while others are intentionally tasteless.
As a whole, there is no clear underlying social or political commentary, unless one wants to apply the symbolism of man beats dog or dog aspires to greatness and fails to the social hierarchical themes of rigid place we have seen repeated elsewhere. The fact that nearly every story has a sad ending may be as revealing as the series can get. Activist comics are a very different category from the one described previously. Despite the fact that many activists are also art students, these comics are independently produced through funding from development organizations often to highlight particular social issues rather than as a showcase for art or imagination.
This is not always the case though. In short, are these activist comics the socially relevant models of contemporary culture we would expect to see in such a genre? The first challenge to answering such a question is in locating original Indonesian comics. Ontran-Ontran ing Muria Chaos in Muria was written by Brotoseno and drawn by Marto Art graduates of the Art Institute in Yogyakarta 14 and funded by an independent environmentalist organization in North Central Java as part of a broad anti-nuclear campaign.
The comic, as well as anti- nuclear tee shirts designed by Athonk , were for distribution to villagers in the Muria district, the proposed site of the first Indonesian nuclear power plant. The comic is written in Javanese, the regional language spoken by these villagers in their everyday contexts, and not Indonesian, the language of officialdom.
The comic shows villagers how to recognize the quality of information being communicated to them by specifically reproducing the kinds of jargon used by the Authority as they praise nuclear power.
The narrative stresses ethical values through which the morally righteous villagers are rewarded for not being stupid enough -- despite their rural ignorance -- to be duped by their crooked village head, a pawn of the Authority.
While the peasant villagers know nothing about nuclear energy, they do recognize the one-sided nature of the information they are being given.
But they have no means or ability to access alternative sources either intellectually or culturally. Since modern interpretations of Javanese cultural expression assure the prevention of any type of conflict as a threat to the social hierarchy, the public forums staged by the Authority do not permit Muria villagers to raise concerns about the nuclear power plant.
Instead, they retreat to their own private worlds, the only context available within which to question Authority and its decisions. When a local boy suddenly returns home as a university educated super hero, the required leader emerges. This young leader is assisted by the local priest and mullah, quotes from the Bible and Koran, and formal Javanese discourse as a way to smooth his entry into this world of less educated but older male superiors.
Through these opposing dialogues of official deception and university-learned savvy, local villagers and comic readers are taught the alternative perspectives on nuclear energy.
They are also taught exactly what the legal steps are to reject authoritarian abuses of power, how to protest correctly, and how to stand up to military threats. In the end of this comic narrative, the villagers win over adversity and they all go back to their fields and live happily ever after.
As a comic book, Ontran-Ontran ing Muria is beautiful. It contains good pictures and a great dialogue. But placing it within the context it was meant for, the comic is worrisome because it presents an idealistic and unrealistic view of the righteous as victorious. As history shows, this is rarely the case in contemporary Indonesia. Furthermore, rather than teach villagers to make their own decisions about their lives, this comic does no more than present a counter ideology to that of the Authority.
Someone must always speak for the villagers, either the village head or the student leader, maintaining a wide discrepancy between who can speak and who can not, who knows and who does not. Replacing one set of correct answers for another does not help rural villagers to understand any of the freedoms the activists claim they are fighting for see Freire for discussion of survival in oppressive regimes.
Thus, they also follow aggressive western trends which are often inappropriate in Indonesian contexts. Additionally, the government has not only placed severe limitations on the distribution of these activists comics, it has also been building up its campaign to obliterate informal sectors of the economy and the poor and marginalized classes who depend on them for their livelihood.
These independent organizations are then forced to compete with not only the laws that often brand their written efforts illegal, but also the dominant ideologies that train the population to dislike and distrust many of the poor their comics are attempting to defend. Comic books geared toward educating the masses on topics such as violence towards women, street children, rubbish scavengers, wandering street sellers, prostitutes and more, find themselves in direct conflict with national ideologies and indoctrination programs.
In light of all these obstacles, it is a miracle that Indonesian comics exist at all and an affirmation of the true power of the comic as a means of expression. As one final tribute to the comic in Indonesian contexts, this last example comes from the one group who does very clearly use comics to describe its unique day-to-day realities. It is not surprising that this particular group is more oppressed, marginalized, and persecuted than any other.
Since January an NGO in Yogyakarta has been publishing a monthly newsletter written by and for the community of street children. As a street society, these kids identify themselves as a well-formed and special community.
The proof of such exclusivity is obvious in their creative use of language. Its members have rejected their alienation by the dominant classes through creating their own exclusive vocabularies, strengthened and spread through the publication of their monthly newsletter called JeJAL JeJAL was initially intended to encourage and support literacy and community empowerment by allowing the children a means through which to express themselves creatively.
Such creativity in linguistic expression is naturally a threat to the Authority who have proclaimed JeJAL illegal, confiscated it, harassed its publishers and even conducted frequent raids to rid the streets of these unwanted children. Each issue of JeJAL contains comic strips that are drawn entirely by the children.
This is where many of the children ply their various trades, sleep, meet their friends, locate, recruit, and protect other children new to the streets. They advise, respond, joke, and always represent an insider, yet adult, perspective on the life of the street child. As a reflection of the life, experiences, words and perspectives of street children, these comics actually fulfill the definition of freedom of expression noted by Rendra.
The comics are drawn by people who are so outside of mainstream society that they are mainly invisible see figure 1. The irony lies in the fact that those considering themselves recognized because of their adherence to the rules of society are permitted to be inhumane to others. The street children, as exiles from recognition, are ironically able to be far more in touch with humanity. Thus, these unrecognized but humane street kids are able to speak very openly about topics most would be afraid to utter.
Figures 1. In the real Indonesian world, poor people, street people, prostitutes and beggars are made to disappear through official police or military cleansing operations. Family members disappear without a trace or throw away their unwanted children as the disposable evidence of their problems.
Economic development permits those with more recognition than others to confiscate land and evict residents. Forced to grow up in a world dependent on these notions of legitimacy, Mas Malio suggests the children select the policeman at a busy intersection as their father, because unlike their own families, he is always around.
Like the huge stone figures on Daliland, Authority figures maintain the status quo with relative ease. A tradition of deference assures mass acceptance of these symbols of social place and self-censorship becomes a highly potent of means of stamping out creativity and dissent -- but not entirely. Final Remarks As a symbolic reflection of social or political reality, this discussion has shown how the comic can present us with a rich store of social commentary, providing the medium is viewed through the lens of authoritarian control as the extremely narrow channel through which cultural identity is squeezed.
Thus, unlike others that praise the comic as a tool of the weak, the mainstream comic book market or press has little place for this. Is this modern society? Looking at the street kid comics, which focus on the major themes in their lives, such as their own humanity within an inhumane world, I dare to say yes.
In this world in which printed materials are carefully scrutinized by a Minister of Information, where permission to publish must include no less than 20 official letters on top of a stamp from the local police attesting to the lack of political content or motivation, indigenous comics or for that matter creativity , are not able to flourish.
Meanwhile, the cartoon strip or the editorial cartoon often does reflect contemporary concerns as wrung through historical settings or the faux pas of clowns. The Mr. Despite their good intentions, the final panel often pictures the hero fallen silent, put back in place by the wife or a bureaucrat. Thus, he is a clown-like figure destined to lose. Under these tightly constrained circumstances, this look at comics in Java reveals how political pressures on freedom of expression in combination with the extended economic crisis and the increased costs of producing comics are major factors in crushing what should be a thriving industry.
There is little investment in local work, because it is not worth the economic or political risk. While the writings on the import comic boon all blame the victim, that is, they attack local artists for their inferior work, no one questions why local artists constantly revamp old themes. As Indonesian artists themselves have stated, nothing new comes out in local comics, and when it does, no one downloads it.
These areas need to be further investigated. When self-reflection is exchanged for indirectness and irrelevance because creativity is subversive, what happens to cultural identity? Lent ed. Illustrating Asia: Comics, Humor Magazines, and Picture Books.
A great part of this new consumerism extended itself to the comic book. Toward the latter part of the Suharto era, not only had the comic book grown in sales and respect, it was also claimed by artists and activists as a new medium of protest and self-expression. Since the great economic crisis has hit Indonesia with a wrath unfelt in other parts of Asia, economic hardship and rising prices rather than censorship and oppression have prevented the comic from developing as it seemed it would.
This paper examines the comic book through its struggle for identity.
The connection between comic books and social commentary, let alone protest, is not a very direct one in Indonesian contexts, nor is it simple to trace. Imperialism, of course, refers to the Dutch period from about to where the presses tended to reflect Dutch not indigenous concerns. In the post independence era after , what I call problems of identity refer to the broad rejection of indigenous comics for anything imported.
Comics none-the-less have a special value and influential power in Indonesia that deserves to be studied in far more depth than has yet been done.
Thus, by piecing together information from the recent comic convention in Jakarta February 6, , my own Indonesian comic collection, personal acquaintances with the artists, the few articles available, and the memories of Indonesians, I have attempted to present a brief commentary on the Indonesian comic book as a genre for social analysis within the boundaries of the island of Java.
Why Comics? To understand the role of comics in the mass media is to understand them as a part of the social relations they report, and not as an objective force separate from them. Ever since the invention of mass produced images through words or pictures, printing has served its huge clientele by providing our daily doses of political, ideological or social information.
Print media is used and often controlled by the powerful for their self-glorification and as an instrument of political propaganda. Protest media on the other hand cry out against injustice, condemn the abuses of power, and teach the masses new social ideas. Even in the most authoritarian of nations, the comic is used as a weapon of the weak in denouncing injustice Phillippe With a background in linguistic anthropology, my main concerns are to recognize the styles and purposes of direct human interaction, particularly within contexts of inequality and oppression.
These are the very aspects of social information that are neglected in most social and political analyses. Yet, as we all know, they form a very significant aspect of understanding for perhaps a majority of a people. Most attractive to me about comics is the fact that their interpretation, like social discourse, is based on context, meaning that they are visually significant and verbally dependent on specific moments in time.
Within the visual and verbal, we find an intertextual quality that links these story worlds with real worlds. It is this link between supposed fantasy and real experience that makes the comic a significant source for understanding modern populist perspectives on local events.
The comic in Indonesia then is a type of social and political communication that, as Anderson has pointed out, presents the low, intimate, informal perspective on Indonesian experience, which stands in sharp contrast to the formal, polite, or high official perspectives we see in the press and in many scholarly analyses. What then does the mainstream Indonesian comic book tell us about modern populist perspectives? Defining the Genres In order to clarify my focus, I differentiate cartoons in the mass media from comics books.
Cartoons in the media refer to comic editorials and strips as a part of the press news or magazines , while the comic book is marketed and sold on its own right. The central difference within Indonesian contexts would be that comic books are almost entirely imported, whereas cartoons are partially and increasingly indigenous creations, reflecting indigenous concerns within and despite all the political pressures preventing freedom of speech.
Whether or not each attracts a different audience remains to be investigated 1. Indonesia has a varied and diverse press with over daily or weekly newspapers, commanding a total circulation of some More than magazines are published with a total circulation of over five million copies. But despite this huge popular newspaper market, only around fourteen use cartoons Lent Of the newspaper dailies, only Suara Merdeka and the Jakarta tabloid Pos Kota have color cartoon sections each week.
Over the years, these cartoon strips have changed from imported and translated adventure stories to almost entirely indigenously drawn, locally relevant issues.
The only other main use of cartoon material is the fortnightly magazine called HumOr 2. What do Indonesian cartoons describe?
In contemporary Indonesia readers will find the pages of the press and other public media full of quotations from government officials and prominent leaders. These officials from the President, to the Minister of Information, to religious figures, and prominent professors proclaim the press as free and open.
Yet, at the same time, a vast battery of laws prevents criticism, and a practice of telephone calls to media editors assures self-censorship is the rule.
Similarly, the Indonesian president proudly describes his nation as a democracy and the elections in which he runs unchallenged a "Festival of Democracy. The most widely read of the weekly news magazines, Tempo banned since June for publishing information on taboo topics 3 , presented one editorial cartoon in the beginning of the magazine along with letters from readers.
While the letters, one can only assume, were uncensored and actually reflected a rare opportunity for some members of the population 4 to publicly express their views, figure 1.
Taken as a premonition of what was to come, we are shown through cartoon form exactly what the Authority defines as the freedom to express differences of opinion.
The picture shows a group of young boys all singing quite happily and with full intensity to the same tune. On a separate occasion last night, Moerdiono said that everyone should shoulder the responsibility of maintaining the current momentum of openness. The article maintains that freedom of expression still exists and that all infractions are the result of a breach of responsibility toward this paternal Authority. The Panji Koming strip figure 1.
The name Panji Koming can tell us a bit about its perspective. Panji is an old Javanese title for mid-ranking royalty. Koming means stunted or small-minded in the Javanese language. By adorning the hero with this obscure title preceding a comic given name, its creator is matching elite position with ignorance in this strip set in the past as seen through clothing and hair styles.
The hero Panji is barefoot, meaning that despite the title he is a peasant. Yet he is also someone able to show the obsequiousness expected by his betters. Status is often reflected through basic, broadly recognized symbols. The powerful wear shoes; they are fat; and they are treated with deference despite their foibles.
Here too, the powerful say things that reflect certain truths, although not necessarily the ones they intended. In this strip, hierarchical expectations of deference and the abuse of power are set in the past, which permits an element of freedom in presenting a social commentary that is relevant now. Bei reflect the concerns of common, contemporary working people.
Poor Mr. Bei, despite his innocence and perfectly good intentions, is sure to get something wrong. Reflecting very Javanese scenarios, the strip reveals honest, working-class values and how these vary between gender or social rank.
In Figure 1. Bei is innocently off to the market and picks up some vegetables for his wife. Bei runs into a neighbor just as he reaches home. As typical neighborly male chatter, he comments on the huge bundle of greens. The neighbor assumes the greens are for the goat and jokingly says, "Why give food to a goat when you can butcher it [the goat] and enjoy it yourself!
Mother Bei knows that the greens are for her family, not a goat, and she is highly insulted at being compared to an animal. Under the very heavy hand of what is locally called self-censorship, these strips and editorial cartoons are able to take a far more relevant and hence humorous stance than comic books, which are almost entirely imported and thus have little if any social meaning within localized contexts.
Gender and social hierarchy issues are a safe bet, whereas politics is always dangerous ground 5. Yet, it is precisely this rather huge discrepancy between cartoons and comic books in terms of cost, storyline, and social relevance that needs further discussion. To say each is popular is an understatement.
Before we can dig a bit deeper and discuss some ways in which government regulations are avoided in independent comics, we will first look briefly at the historical development of mainstream comics.
History of Comics and Cartoons Cartoons in the mass media are the strips appearing in the funny pages of the news or the one shot visual condensation of political communication, the editorial cartoon. The editorial cartoon has a very long history while the cartoon strip did not exist in indigenous form prior to World War 2. All types of comics depend upon sophisticated printing technology and an economy in which people are able and willing to download daily, weekly, or monthly publications.
During the Dutch Occupation, editorial cartoons were widely used in the Dutch-controlled Jakarta print media, but these reflected Dutch not indigenous interests, and would have only been available to a few Indonesians 6. During the Japanese occupation in , the war for independence in , and the early years of freedom, posters were used for propaganda, which had an influence on the later development of the genre Anderson ; Zaimar Once the cartoon strip became established, these imported and translated strips eventually spurred on the indigenous cartoon.
Bind a string of strips together and you have the comic book, referred to locally as cergam, an acronym for cerita bergambar or story with pictures. The comic book made its debut in Indonesia in the s but all I can find on them is that they were American look-alikes Jakarta Post, 1 August In the s and up till the s, Indonesian cartoons finally found their place.
These were almost entirely adventure, silat kung fu stories of which the artist Oto Suastika was one of the early heroes. His artwork and stories were considered among the best in Indonesia after they appeared as a cartoon strip in the Starweekly in Praised for the quality of the drawing and general attractiveness, Oto adapted his stories from Chinese legends, with Chinese settings and Chinese details.
Because of economic difficulty in the post revolution era, the indigenous comic did not develop until the s. American strips had already begun flooding the local markets. What followed was a proliferation of locally produced copies of foreign comics, the adaptation of Chinese legends, silat adventure stories, and a surge in their sales during the s to the s. Everybody was reading them! During this time, a brilliant scheme for evading the problem of economic difficulty appeared through the comic rental kiosk which blossomed throughout Java Wirosardjono Many Indonesians have described for me their memories of that time through images of people sitting under trees beside the huge piles of comics they had just borrowed from the rental kiosk!
As popular culture, then, the comic book is highly valued by locals who seem more than prepared to become entirely involved in these often epic narratives. During the s, the theory of comics as a reincarnation of past oral traditions met its modern economic reality where Chinese silat stories eventually led to a revival of local legends in comic book form.
The most notable of these were the Mahabarata and Ramayana comics by Kosasih. The Chinese influences were obviously still strong since this comic story was later turned into a Hong Kong adventure film Suara Merdeka 9 November This taste for epic legend comics prevails today. Ride any bus in Java now and you are sure to be offered miniature comic books on Mohammad, the Buddha, or Jesus.
Does the comic format turn the Pandawa brothers from the epic Mahabarata into a lesser type of super hero than they are because of the Indonesian misconception that the sole purpose of the comic is to entertain children? Western intellectuals bemoan these comics as superficial and simplistic, "crude comic [..
Meanwhile, in a country as sensitive and as prone to religious violence as Indonesia, the proliferation of the Prophet Mohammed and other religious super-heroes into comic book form would never be locally evaluated as crude, caricatured stereotypes that fail to be highly significant educational models.
Or are real values only conveyed through original books and performance genres such as wayang and lost through transference to the comic book? Both Presidents Soekarno and Soeharto have taken a position on these questions when the first president Soekarno accused comic artists of subversion and denounced their work as garbage and a Western induced poison in the s.
Schools and kiosks were raided and the comics confiscated and burned. Later, in the Soeharto era, comics were again attacked for fostering laziness and having no educational value Jakarta Post, 1 August The "Golden Age" of comics with its new mass produced and consumed versions of old traditions is herein put to rest.
Strangely, this rejection of the industry by the presidents rarely appears in writings on comics. What constantly does appear in the media now is a lament for the death of the national comic along with an admission that anything local quite simply is not as good as the foreign variety 7.
Yet, one still wonders why this hugely popular medium was destroyed. As comic artists themselves admit, Indonesian comics suffer from "writing problems" and Ganes TH adds that "readers need something new.
This leads us back to questions of censorship and the limitations on new topics that will be discussed later. Meanwhile, with such strong forces denouncing the local comic industry, the desire for comics has been met by a flood of foreign comics. Beginning with the s, translations of Donald Duck, Spiderman, Flash Gordon, and other American and European favorites have begun to fill the book shop shelves, while the Indonesian natives wallow in the dust of neglect, if, that is, they can even be found in the storage bins.
Translations of American cowboy and especially Indian stories and other Western legends take over where local and Chinese legends once ruled. Comics such as Musuh dalam Selimut Enemy in a Blanket reveal where the local industry has gone. While the comic was sold as a Western import in translation, often it concealed an indigenous illegal copy inside. In my issue of Musuh, behind the cowboy story I was surprised to find Tigra a Marvel title , a local adaptation of the Western super hero genre.
Tigra contains Indonesian bad guys, Caucasian good guys, and a super hero who is female, young, beautiful, wild, mute, a great kung fu fighter, very responsive to Caucasian handsome men, and wears very skimpy clothing. The extreme popularity of these local legend and kung fu comics in the s is obvious because of the extent to which they are easily located in any of the Javanese homes I have ever visited.
Yet, despite the obviously huge numbers sold in the recent past, these comic book legends remain largely unavailable in the book shops today 8. Such a fact is hard to explain since the come-back of the s comic hero, Panji Tengkorak, as a film star in the mid s. In the latter half of the s, many of the old favorite artists like Jan Mintaraga made a valiant effort by digging up Javanese legends such as Jaka Tingkir, Ramayana, and Imperium Majapahit.
The mass popularity of these comics is evident from their full color serialization in strip form in every one of the Javanese language weekly magazines and newspapers. In some of the Indonesian language newspapers also began reprinting these old legend serials. But they never appeared in comic book form and their popularity pales in comparison to the foreign imports. Indonesian markets seem to be demanding something new, and these demands are not being met by local artists.
By the end of the s, translations of Japanese comics such as Dragon Ball, Candy, and Kung Fu Boy entered the local scene with their eastern styles of story-telling.
They are also praised for a quality of drawing that was deemed vastly superior to the local efforts. Indonesian-made comics are now reduced to pretty much only the cartoon editorial variety and those strips that appear in newspapers. It is not just the success in sales of foreign comics that has squeezed the local varieties off the shelves.
Since production expenses are much greater than downloading the rights to established foreign comics, local comics actually cost more than the imports do. All considered, producers have little incentive to support local artists. Furthermore, Indonesian comic artists seem to have had too narrow a repertoire: Local artists have told me that the Indonesian comic neglects indigenous perspectives on humor or traditions of story-telling because they are boring 9.
Yet, quite realistically, Indonesian artists cannot offer comics about real, modern, social issues and contemporary concerns since many of these would be deemed subversive. No comic books have ever appeared on everyday common topics such as youth gangs, teen love, coming of age problems, and criminal elements within local contexts.
In the s, there is not one Indonesian comic book that looks at local reality the way the Mr. Bei strip does, for example. What is obvious within the current Indonesian comic world is that any indigenous efforts are deemed inferior in comparison to the slick, trendy overseas super hero comic.
The one recent challenger to the overseas onslaught is from the super-hero Caroq produced by Qomik Nusantara, the effort of a group of 14 art students from the Bandung Institute of Technology in West Java. The hero named Sarmun is an ethnic Baduy West Java who wears Madurese an island located just off the north east coast of Java style of clothing and fights with Madurese blades. In fact, the characters are direct copies of the ultra muscular American comic heroes such as Batman, Captain Marvel, and others easily recognizable by comic buffs