Currently, Japanese comics dominate the comic market in Indonesia. They are selling numerous characters along with their cartoon animation (anime) and merchandise that range to advanced multimedia gadgets, such as Play Station and Nintendo game console.

The Japanese comics appear in various styles. They employ good marketing strategies and come up with a good branding. Moreover, they offer exciting stories with strong characters (ranging from animals and human to machines, from robots, hybrid creatures to even more imaginative creatures) to their audiences. Indonesian comics has a different approach. We may not be able to compete with their drawing skills and techniques, but we have a rich source of stories from our various cultural background. However, the drawing styles of Indonesian comics were influenced by American Comics (Marvel, DC, Darkhorse, Image, etc.), European comics and aalso the Japanese Manga. All those foreign comics were so attractive that they inspire the Indonesian younger generation to make their own comics. Marvel from America is different. It shows magnificent super heroes with different super powers. It has a huge effect to young generations of comic readers. This generation was booming before the popularity of the Japanese comics. Superman, Batman, Spiderman and the others are very famous and well-known among the young comic readers in Indonesia.

But, if we dig up again, the young generation also loves to read European comics such as Tintin, Roel Dijkstra, Lucky Luke, Asterix, etc. It is a pity that we only know them (the comic characters) through their two-dimentional appearance in strips. We are lack of information about their creation; about the background, the process, and even about the artists themselves. Those Eropean comics were very popular in Indonesia. Unfortunately, Indonesian readers only knew them through their publication as one-page strips in magazines. So when those comics series were released as comic albums, most readers were reluctant to buy them, since they already knew what the whole story was all about (with the exception of some very popular albums that are worth collecting).

This might have been the cause of the decrease of European comic album distribution in Indonesia. However, this phenomena happened tens of years ago. We have noticed that there are a number of new European comics, created by young, talented, artists, with a potential to capture faithful readers, that are released in many countries but not in Indonesia. Therefore we also expect MADJOE! to attract the attention of Indonesian publishers to revive European comics readers in Indonesia. At present, there are a lot of comic communities in Indonesia. They create comic only as a hobby, without any profit motivation or business ambition. Most of them are students who have lots of time to create fictional characters and stories and to develop their skills. Therefore, it is no wonder that Indonesian publishers are afraid to commit to publishing local comic albums. Moreover, publishers still think of comics/strips as only a filler for their magazines or newspapers. They always ask for inexpensive comics in many pages of drawings. In the end, the magazines and newspaper hire only the most popular comic artists. There are several comic artists who dedicate themselves for years in magazines or newspapers. For example: Panji Koming from Kompas daily newspaper. Panji Koming is actually an abbreviation from Kompas Minggu (or Sunday Kompas), because Panji Koming is released only on Sunday editions. We are trying to keep our Indonesian comics running in a proper way.

We are still trying to keep tracks on our older comic artists and their works. Aside from that effort, it is not an easy task to revive the spirit of original Indonesian comics. We are keeping in touch closely with other local comics studios, artists and personnels to discuss and exchange our experience. One potential comic community is Masyarakat Komik Indonesia (MKI), or Indonesian Comic Community. This community was establisehd at the First National Comic Exhibition in Jakarta. There were humongous positive responses towards this community, moreover from small comic studios in several cities of Indonesia. Through MKI, we can easily keep in touch with each other.

Image : Caroq by Ahmad Thoriq

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