Indonesian Culture in Two Faces, United in uncertainty

As one of the areas of developing countries in Southeast Asia, Indonesia was involved in the process of seeking an agreement to develop the possibilities they have. The possibilities are inherited forms received as identity.
Composition of local government ordinances such as places of Yogyakarta and Solo, language, values, beliefs, and various forms of cultural artistic expression in various places preserved as part of that heritage.

The process of development and modernization by showing a shift in agrarian-feodal society into a more urban society in some specific cases show significant development. The level of conventional values ​​in the cultural traditions slowly broken down so that in case of art, the results of art produced relatively more contextual to look nimble with the times.
But in the midst of these developments, the uncertainty was covering them.


Between tradition and popular culture was “the road in place” with its own ideology. Hold fast to traditional culture, while the ancestors of the modern value (now often called a generation “X” and generation “MTV” really uprooted from tradition) is so preoccupied with “global flavor” it so that all the vessels of the culture of the past need to be trimmed into something that looks really modern.
Examples of novel in a work resulting from the cosmopolitan world of course difficult to get recognition for the creativity it generates so that only the novels are familiar with the local culture  received. But once confronted with a sense of community that are discriminatory, relatively popular novels in fact more likely to reach sales of best-selling novels than the known strong local content.
Perhaps in the case of literature, how to achieve within the framework of experimental (avant-garde) is still acceptable as a way of critics another foothold from expressions that are at the level of the old framework. But it was also difficult due to the fact that other forms of concern that should not happen accepted as a stain, rather than as an example of the development that was happening in society.
Well, the fact that each of them only “roads in place” could not be denied. Facts’ roads in place “to make these two faces of our culture, tradition and popular then have the potential to be developed by their own community. But what a miracle when they both turned to face the reality of marginality also issue a blanket.
Each has suddenly become alienated with his social life. Yang was born from the roots of stuttering when trying to meld tradition with modernity itself. Cynical assumptions as primitive, too dreamily (not contextual), not modern, and ancient appears that he abandoned the modern society.
While that was born from the roots of cultural tradition deprivation is so hard to achieve recognition of the cultural creative art because the results are achieved only based on purely contextual contemporary context and that is far from a kind of reflection values ​​let alone history.
Results generated art as “pop culture” with the impression given of the word “popular” or in other words about “mass” which many later be abused as a “poison” for reasons “not grounded” for having left the tradition.

Well, the reason “not down to earth” can be accepted as one of the absolute limit. But is then the perpetrators of contemporary culture that in fact being achieved thought the merger between traditional values ​​and modern easy to gain recognition in the midst of modernity?

In my article entitled “Nationalism?” from GONG magazine, edition 64/VI/2004 proved it is still difficult to achieve recognition. The success of the music group Discus penetrate the Italian record label, Mellow Records such as only a handful of people recognized that his position was marginal despite it the name of the nation. Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer nominated for the Nobel prize was struggle instead driven by Professor Koh Yung Hun, a Korean national who was also moving the center of Indonesian culture in Korea.


Well, this makes us more independent, so no need to beg to the government. But is not it naive after sweaty sweat, cultural activists still in a marginal position? Or is the issue of culture has not been considered important?
Gap in the two faces of our culture has become so stretched wide. That tradition denounced as adverse effects of globalization, while the modern face censure him as “the portraits scattered bones” so he had to be abandoned for reasons “not cool”.
Yes, every artist has tried to keep his work to come to the surface. Art works of any nature should arise, each to the surface in the life of the modern world, the information age and globalization today. But every work of art all of a sudden has a great distance with the audience despite the community to deal with the challenges of the modern world, each of which has gone to great lengths to wrap themselves into a formula called kitsch to become an art that can be packaged as a commodity trading.

Well, to achieve commercial advantage, the line of art that was born as a response to the demand of the urban population to reach its commercial profit calculation results compared to the line art that is born of tradition.


Well, to address the modernization, the various attempts to fuse to the count for the mass must be adopted.
But, what does it mean when it comes to the people who on average tend to be very discriminatory, because they know what they want, and know what they want, so unstable condition which then struck the perpetrator culture.

Disturbing question, is it true there is something wrong in the ways of delivering communication and socialization of a modernization? Would not each have their own ideology acceptable for society? Is not if you borrow the term Mohammad Diponegoro in the Indonesian literary world “every story has a saga, he is a decisive point of view, from where the story should be seen” (Diponegoro, Mohamad. 1985. Yuk, Nulis Cerpen Yuk. Jakarta:  Shalahuddin Press.) so that each has its own community supporters? If true each has had an ideology and its own citizens why the problem to be marginal which is always a barrier?

Attitude patterns of turbid


Culture in the two faces had been alluded to in an attempt to merge in the development of works of art. What about the emerging pattern of behavior? This is what actually looks at the present time have even more shows turbidity. In modern times who always is moving it will be easier to get the portraits of social community that is financially very capable of appreciating works of art, but in fact they themselves even blind to the arts.
Art and his profession is considered less significant than economic achievement. For instance in the mass media editorial policies, the rubric of art, and culture tend to be marginalized. Possible to reach a compromise agreement, there is then combine them into “art & entertainment.” But for the size of the mass media that has not been established economically average rubric of art originally omitted if there is a certain mass media so that only a relatively steady state would provide it.
Art rubric finally squeezed in advertising art, celebrity gossip, and news of sex and politics. He is considered inefficient because of its weight is only read and accepted by certain circles.


Another example of some more established educational institutions whose orientation is a business. In fact, the activities of these institutions pembisnisan getting worse with commercial aspects. Commercialization actually make us not believe the main function of education as a medium between people in the era of globalization. Commercialization of education that seemed to show such progress is in “Orang Miskin Dilarang Sekolah!” (Eko Prasetyo, Insist Press, 2004) in fact even then leads to social complexity with the increasing number of unemployed. While the art educational institutions that exist tend to lack attention because he was not able to show the development that makes people came to believe in the economic framework.

Well, there are a number of owners of capital are “aware of the art” or art actors trying to make their own art media with lofty ideals “in the name of culture.” But even then too weak when periodic publication as journals, magazines, and books every rising only to accumulate in the warehouse.

Well, there is also a relatively well-established mass media increase the portion of the rubric arts. But the consequences he became so “fat” because so many missions to be conveyed. Fortunately, with capital owned he was able to publish to other formats such anthologies anthology book published short stories, poetry, or essays best version. What if not, while publishing such books was also less behavior anyway?
Appreciation of art is also generally low so that the perpetrators of art inevitably forced to “hide” into another profession as a reason to survive. Well, they can survive, could survive by his ability to compromise with the tastes of the masses. But what happens when he is always caught up in doubt to conduct an experiment because, among artists, critics, publishers, and people are still roads in each place while seeking to justify in his “ideology”?


The most serious example of the pattern of public attitudes are increasingly growing due to the root tercerabutnya tradition is the use of foreign languages ​​in order to look “cool” and prestigious. Wilson Nadeak in “Foreign Title, Power Attract?” (Kompas, 7 November 2004) troubling granting title to the English in our publishing lately. He was restless for not clear whether the provision of these titles (with the letter Indonesian language understated) precast parts is not difficult to handle design of the original issuer so that more communicative to reach upper middle buyer or indeed the ASEAN market is starting to break out of this country?

Modernization as an idea


After 350 years of occupation, many are not aware of culture as a national asset that can generate a large discourse of nationalism. Being that there are cultural traditions is concern by the government. But the result is still in the stage of preservation that may be spelled tersempitkan on local arts course. His figure was arguably only become accessories welcoming tourists simply because no fuse on cultural developments in his own country.
Meanwhile, to answer the demands of “global society” in their own country so crowded with art performances of various cultural centers of activity from abroad. But what about Indonesia? Do we have cultural centers abroad?
Umar Kayam in culture papers ever submitted in the Ramayana Festival in 1971 Pandaan never threw an idea to bridge the two faces of Indonesian culture. Authors 1000 Kunang-Kunang di Manhattan (Thousand Firefly in Manhattan) this modernization convey ideas that influenced the idea from ​​David Apter. According to Apter, to achieve the ideal of modernization, there are two necessary conditions.


First, one social system to be able to make innovation a regular basis without having a mess in the middle of the road. Second, there is a social framework that can provide the necessary skills and knowledge in technology. Umar Kayam himself later concluded that the social system in the first condition is a system that is able to develop the elements of “old” so it will be possible once the role of art in the tradition of involvement in creating the infra-structure to promote the achievement of minimum conditions offered. While the second condition can be developed more creatively if it will be possible once the traditional art can still be “intervened”.
In theory put forward Apter, it can be concluded shift the community will be better developed if there is a satisfactory dialogue with traditional elements. At the very least a sense of vertigo that occurs due to each too confident with the ideology adopted and the existence of which had in following the developments could eventually meet if it refers to the theoretical composition David Apter. (Kayam, Umar.1981. Seri Esni No.3: Seni, Tradisi, Masyarakat. Jakarta: Pustaka Sinar Harapan.)

Missing Link and the Problem of Existence


Heraclitus said that the real human being broken up with something that is intrinsically close to him so he was always obsessed with finding the missing link back (missing link). William Barrett argued in the happenings of this missing link Existensialism as A Symptom of Man Contempoary Crisis (“Spiritual Problems in Contemporary Literature”, Romain Stanley H. (ed) New York, Harper Torch Book. Pp. 139 so that any attempt to question the meaning and purpose in life within the framework of face to face two cultures that are “fun” is the opposite.
Missing link between popular culture and tradition here when referring to William Barret generally occurs between the dichotomy of materialistic versus idealistic. So difficult to resist in the midst of the crisis that hit the value life, we have experienced changes that tend to rely on the interests of liberal pragmatism. Homo economicus as humanism has influenced the policy holder is not in the competence system.
As a result, everything being measured in economic, as well as the modernization so that cultural products have abandoned the values ​​luhurnya. If cultural tradition of “unwilling” to move from his mistake, while not necessarily popular culture has also left its history so the past is not regarded as a mirror facing the future.


Well, history has bequeathed adiluhung values, but the mistake he had made for example in ways that tend to be feudal and highly patronistik as abandoned so that the cultural tradition that always reminded of our children and grandchildren is his greatness, nor weakness.
Lewis W. Spitz, a professor of history from Stanford University in his essay “Historian and He is the Ancient of” (God and Culture, DA Carson / John D. Woodbridge (ed.), William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Published in Indonesia by Momentum, 2002) had warned that such development of all other human beings, history also requires vision to the front as well as the wisdom of the views of the past.


Well, in between the opposing sides that each has a form of existence. While an existentialist Kierkegaard believes has the absolute truth by leaps he made.
But, if you constantly carry out, nor the continued life is everything in a matter of existence, a professor of philosophy in New York, Professor Sidney Hook said, has set a bad time for yourself. According to Hook to be avoided is the belief in absolute truth. Who would have thought that he has the absolute truth will forget the limits of perspective in order to see or describe something.


Now, the question is now whether we are still busy to forget the limits of that perspective? If yes, until when will we forget?*



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Cemplon:Nock Through Jokes

Indonesian press actually has ever had the idea of ​​quality seeds since 1973 Tom Wolfe in “The New Journalism”. At that time Wolfe wed discipline in journalism with literary beauty. Through Cemplon who was born from the hands of Umar Nur Zain aspect is already there, although contained in it more nuanced humor parody, not in depth news story written. Nevertheless, Umar already have it on Cemplon written in the style of short stories (which we respectfully call it as literature.)

“Column” or “essay” is a short factual capable of illuminating the humor side of the fresh, intelligent and nock.

Yes, this is the “literary journalism” a la Cemplon. She was not patronizing like column written every Sunday (Cemplon attend every Sunday at Sinar Harapan since 1979, then continued in Suara Pembaruan until Umar died). She did not become the story of blue-like confuse serialize in the paper. She is factual but also armed with a fictious marriage that background the author with the ability of literary journalism. She was naughty by entering the author as its support mission as well as joint leaders Cemplon creations. Cemplon are short stories, essays and a half because the private charge the author. Its depth is not the courage to manage a difficult thing. Instead of the story is “just” a piece (writing Cemplon at most no more than 2-3 single spaced pages on a computer screen) there is clarity of the author manages a factual matter within the framework of humor as a mirror of our community development and stuttering.

Cemplon First book from Sinar Harapan daily in 1980's

In the Sederhanaisme (h.71, in Cemplon, Maaf Anda Boleh Lewat, Puspa Swara, 1994) Cemplon was asked to make a speech to the National Awakening Day (Hari Kebangkitan Nasional). Cemplon get ready. European longdres wore blue, fragrant perfume, and shoes bought in Italy until the people from afar to see him like the sun shining overwritten. After the speech Cemplon so fiery, he was struggling to find beads necklace of sparkling jewels suddenly dislodged and scattered on the floor. Ironic, when he was just ranting called for a simple lifestyle in his speech!

Another story, Film Televisi (h.23, Ny. Cemplon, Sinar Harapan, 1981) Cemplon that just because a television station coverage plan a visit to the area recently hit by natural disasters earthquakes. “How you will already have become the main character? Many talented stars that beautiful? “I asked (‘I’ here is’ Umar, the author).
So, be the making of the film with the program’s lawyer-cover profile of the earthquake-affected villages. But once the movie ended, 70 percent of the scenes out for Cemplon. Among Cemplon’re contemplating the fate of victims of the earthquake, Cemplon being congratulated, Cemplon shaking his head and so on until reporters who were invited to watch curse. Understandably, Cemplon have prepared a variety of costumes. “So that viewers do not get bored,” she said coyly. Ah, the reader can easily guess this story is a satire for television station owners that moral hazard wanted to be a celebrity or an official who just want to be seen to care for the small people …

So, in reading Cemplon we will not be in haste to try to link her with the actual events, mostly taken from the typical atmosphere of Jakarta. She was able flicked “Sketsa Massa” as writing caricature sketch. She is witty but not less intelligent with a column written by a humanist. The difference is shown scolding short story revolves around the style. Personification of the characters is so flexible. Cemplon portrayed beautiful, slim, sexy, sassy, ​​flirty, sometimes bitchy, irritable, moody, ambitious, idealistic and others. She also appeared as a multidimensional character. This day appeared in Bangkok, tomorrow in America, the day after tomorrow is in Africa. So did her work ranging from radio broadcasters, traffic police, pimps, owners of television stations, officials until the handyman’s wife of witchcraft! The figure was never depicted with her husband even though he clearly has the status of “lady”.

Cemplon's Second Book published by Puspa Swara from Suara Pembaruan daily in 1990's

Umar Nur Zain’s work, Cemplon, further through the picture increasingly lifeless by senior cartoonist Pramono and S. Poerwono that in every edition always put the initials “Non-O” at the corner of the drawing. Cemplon the soaring popularity of the 1980s in the Sinar Harapan daily cash make this basin have Oom Pasikom Kompas daily as a mascot. The difference, Oom Pasikom GM Sudarta’s work was born as an editorial cartoon in the framework of “the art of protest”, Cemplon actually comes in two frame at once, cartoons and story (which in fact is of course also part of “the art of protest” was!) As Oom Pasikom (played by Didi Petet in the movie released on 1992) who was appointed to the film, Cemplon was appointed to the television in 1995 with singer Kris Dayanti as the cast.

“At the time the first Sunday of Sinar Harapan published, it occurred to write such a sketch describing the writing caricature with city dwellers, who are these different. One of my teachers, late of LKBN Antara Soemarsono inspiring. He never gave a description, what a wonderful Jakarta! If we walk to anywhere seemed atmosphere caricature. From there then it occurred that Jakarta is a repository of sketches are endless, “said Umar Nur Zain told Cemplon creative process in an introduction to the book Ny. Cemplon published in 1981.

“As of this writing continuously, my friends recommend to seek permanent character and all of a sudden Cemplon name (which means it does not exist) was accidentally dropped from the subconscious,” added Umar.


Umar Nur Zain was born in Cirebon, 15 April 1939 and died in 1996. Their work was more in the field of journalism, though unwittingly pass Cemplon he actually managed to show literary ability. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1962 at the National Theatre Academy which later became the High School Publication. His wife, Retno Himawati a journalist in LKBN Antara. He never followed the Editorial Advance Course Thomson Foundation in Cardiff, UK. Being a journalist and editor in Berita Indonesia, Berita Yudha, Proklamasi, Sinar Harapan, and the latest in Suara Pembaruan until the end.

Besides Cemplon, he also wrote several books such as Rissa (novel, story on Suara Pembaruan,1990), Piccadilly, dr. Anastasia, Namaku Wage, Ibu Guru Dwisari, and Belantara Ibu Kota. He also wrote the nonfiction book Penulisan Feature. All of his many books published by Grafikatama Jaya, publisher initiated and managed by famous writers Satyagraha Hoerip- until Hoerip died.
Other works, such as Rissa, literary discourse is its ability to process written by popular though. The story is very simple, even if the term refers to today’s very cosmopolitan. Rissa tell when a student who woke to find himself turned into a bird. Rissa in travels he meets a young woman, beautiful and rich, an official mistress. They then are friends because Rissa more often left alone by her husband. There is humor, suspense and even romance in Rissa. Unfortunately, due to be made as a running story (and perhaps written then loaded directly) so that the ending is too hurried Rissa failed to complete a series of stories that bite to the end.

Nevertheless, Umar Nur Zain decent writers remembered as one of the powerful in this country. Indeed, he was not up to create works which then reap the praise or appreciation of literature (his name is not listed in the “Leksikon Sastra Indonesia Modern” (Lexicon of Modern Indonesian Literature). Perhaps because of such novels as Rissa not work full reflection, his name is likely to escape in modern Indonesian literature. And through a very intriguing Cemplonhe has managed to carve a new style that is not so much occupied our writers in the present. The idea of ​​humor that combined in a short story that is actually able to rip off the two forms of authorship as well: literature (there are stories, the central figure, images) and journalism (the actual events, satire and sarcasm).

Singer Kris Dayanti as Cemplon in television

Hikmat Kurnia, book editor Cemplon, Maaf Anda Boleh Lewat (Cemplon, Sorry You Can Through) published by Puspa Swara writes in his preface, “In this way he can enter and track all events that met jump over the boundaries of space, time and even logic,”
In the era of the 2000s is Sengklirip a story similar Cemplon (using the central figure and parodies of actual events) in the Djakarta! magazine but lack a social critic who flicked. There is Surat dari Palmerah (Letter from Palmerah) in Jakarta Jakarta, but it did not always use the figure Sukab who also likes to change professions. Sukab appeared in Seno Gumira Ajidarma’s short stories (later he is appearring in the comic book series.) There are essays on Harry Roesli in Kompas, Sujiwo Tejo in Sinar Harapan is straightforward and flicked – but it did not have a figure, even a red thread because it is not written continuously.
Cemplon a masterpiece by Umar Nur Zain in the field of journalism, literature and even actually reminds us of many things. Outside of social criticism that if the public still feels contextual, not to mention we have a reliable writer who can process a typical joke and idiomatic. Naturally, when Umar Nur Zain’s death, also ends Cemplon series – even up to the daily Sinar Harapan newspaper Cemplon appear first place – appeared back in 2002. Umar’s departure hardly irreplaceable though in the present appear essayist, columnist or socio-political culture that tends to serious and textual – even elitist, especially those written culture.

Umar’s departure seemed to indicate that there was still diverse authorship we are left – as many writers and desire to assimilate all the treasures of art, or anything else thought to the wider community as well as the importance of the role of self in history. Cemplon is witty but also satire like Art Buchwald, a famous American satirist. He is so straightforward as A. Samad Ismail, the famous writer from Malaysia (Samad is a short story writer with a strong journalistic background, such as Umar).
Reading Cemplon’s series actually will help us in the process of “being Indonesian” in the midst of our society which can not be denied again is experiencing “culture shock”. Cemplon became a means laugh at themselves for life in an introduction written by Umar, unique, beautiful, lively though occasionally bitter and miserable, we can smile wryly, grimaced, cursed, even grateful .***

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Beyond Parody:Critical Voice of Comics Expose Social Issues

Comics have developed further and become even richer as they are given a more profound tinkering by combining them with certain litetary touches and other techniques to give rise to what is called “graphic novels”.The term, coined by Will Eisner, refers to such works as the Fables series by the Eisner award-winning Bill Willingham or Peter Kuper’s adaptation of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphose, a vague political conspirancy in the Tintin series by herge (Kidnapping of Calculus, King Ottokar’s Royal Mace and Picaros), a parody of history and technological invention in Mark Allan Stamaty’s Too Many Time Machine, and even Joe Sacco’s Palestine, journalistic notes illustated as a comic strip and which won a prestigious award for non-comic strip works.
Anyone who has read Pengumuman: Tidak Ada Sekolah Murah!(Announcement: No such thing as low-cost schooling, Resist Book, 2005) will agree that this particular comic strip delivers more than just pictures.A hybrid between comic strip and social analysis, the book provides a parody of the condition of the educational system from kindergarten up to university, dripping with sarcastic humor.
Like Eko Prasetyo’s earlier books, Orang Miskin Dilarang Sekolah (The poor may not go to school) and Orang Miskin Dilarang Sakit (The poor may not get sick), Tidak Ada Sekolah Murah! is the author’s criticism on social dynamics and problems- proof, according to him, that the government has failed in addressing poverty.

While illustrations in the two earlier titles serve to reinforce the text, in Tidak Ada Sekolah Murah!, they have fully taken over the text as the narrator: The strip about the experience of attending university, for example, shows a sketch of an empty university library juxtaposed against a crowded student cafeteria.Observe also the illustrations comparing extracurricular activities at private and state schools. On the left hand side, the sketch of an expensive private school shows extracurricular activities involving computers, the Internet and ballet, while on the right-hand side, extracurricular activities at state schools involve boy scout and dancing only.
Without the help of long texts, the illustrations, made simply without any particular attention to neatness, make the reader smile- it is naughty and wild spirit that runs through this 144-page comic strip. Readers will agree that Tidak Ada Sekolah Murah! shares a critical spirit akin to those by the same author in his Dilarang Miskin (Being poor is forbidden) series.
Even so, illustrations – despite their teasing nature and the lack of neatness in their creation- play a much greater role in this book than those in the aforementioned series.Inspired by Matt Groening’s School is Hell, which has gained fame through serials The Simpsons and Futurama, Tidak Ada Sekolah Murah! is both critical analysis, as well as a medium, of the writer-cartoonist’s indictment against educational system, one of the country’s chronic social problems. (Reportedly, the publisher actually wanted to translate Groening’s books into Bahasa Indonesia, but failed to procure translation rights).
Indeed, cartoonist Benny Rachmadi and Muhammad ‘Mice’ Misrad, better known as the Benny and Mice duo, have already made a similar attempt to speak out against social issues through their comic series Lagak Jakarta (Jakarta lifestyle). Of course, several other, more senior Indonesian cartoonist, such as Libra with his Timun, Dwi Koen with Panji Koming, Pramono, G.M. Sudarta, Augustin Sibarani and Kho Wang Gie, perhaps the earlier of them all, with their Put On, have also attempted the same.However, in Tidak Ada Sekolah Murah!, the cartoons created by Terra Bajraghosa, characterized by their lack of neatness in their execution in exploring the themes, closely resemble the work of Dav Pilkey in the Captain Color series, Irish humorist Ian Walsh’s in the The Idiot Book and also Matt Groening’s work.
The narrative power of Terra’s pictures is as strong as that of the texts by Eko, who has published on religious and social themes.
The cities of Yogyakarta and Bandung, the birthplaces of a great number of underground cartoonists, have, through this literary hybrid, succesfully presented the comic medium as more than just a creative indicator that, unfortunately, sometimes serve just as a means of visual experimentation for dilettantes, but also as a mode of expression that is no less critical than literary and non-literary books, music, and films.
It seems that the period after 1990s has witnessed the beginning of an awareness that underground comics are not simply a means of resistance against mainstream comic strips, but are also a medium of indictment. In fact, comic strips began to be adopted in this capacity with the publication in Yogya of the anthology, Subversi Komik (Comics of subversion), in 2004.
Unfortunately, the following series series failed to see light of day.
Meanwhile, in the case of a hybrid of literature and cartoons, writer Seno Gumira Ajidarma, collaborating with Asnar zacky, pionereed this genre with Jakarta 2039, Kematian Donny Osmond (Death of Donny Osmond) and Sukab Intel Melayu (Sukab the malay spy), followed by Erwin Primaarya with Taxi Blues (2002), a comic inspired by one of Seno’s short stories.
The publication of Tidak Ada Sekolah Murah! deserves our appreciation in two important respects. First, it shows that underground comics, unlike their initial function, are not simply a creative indicator. Second, in terms of thematic exploration, this book shows that Indonesian comics, which have long dealt mostly with humor and parody, still retain their power to criticize.It is public knowledge that for quite some time, the country’s comics – confined to functioning only as a creative indicator and providing humor and parody – had fallen into the trap of the market system of the industry. First, the cartoonist creating mainstream comics have sacrified their idealism by not only copying precisely the style of Japanese manga, but also by agreeing to their publishers’ requirement that their names be made to sound Japanese, so their comic strips would appear to have been published in Japan.
Second, cartoonist must join publishing project funded by foreifn non-governmental organizations or institutions, as well as government agencies and even political parties specializing in the humanities. In the case of a number of comics that have been published under this arrangement, the have lost their power of criticism and have in many ways become highly verbal.

This is understandable because such comics, despite the sham creative indpeendence that they seek to impress people with, are made to order and, as such, manifest the mission set by their “sponsors”. It is true that when comics are produced under this support scheme, Indonesian cartoon workshops can survive financially. However, the distribution of comics created by cartoonist under this scheme are limited. Besides, just like underground comics, such works serve merely as creative indicators and are not powerful in terms of visual experimentation or narration.

Third, comics as a product in themselves- for example as an animated film, as TV series Joshua Bocah Ajaib (Joshua the wonder boy), Saras 008 or Panji Manusia Millenium (Panji the millenium man), a feature film or a toy- might be mass produced, but their distribution period is brief and they will quickly disappear following the distribution cycle.Tidak Ada sekolah Murah! is quite successful as a literary hybrid. However, it is not without its shortcoming. In terms of content, the book has its strong points, but is weakness lies in its placement in bookshops – a trifle in the eyes of our book industry and therefore not given sufficient attention.It is a shame to see interesting and powerful comics share the same shelf as children’s comics. And unlike the two Batman comics – Child of Dreams and Batman Hong Kong – which are specially labeled as adult reading, Tidak Ada Sekolah Murah!, unfortunately is yet to be similarly labeled.Regardless of this shortcoming, Pengumuman: Tidak Ada Sekolah Murah! has attracted both comics fans and readers of books on social affairs and humanities. If comics targeting adults are published in future, be they original or translated works (like Rampokan/Loot by Peter van Dongen, published in 2005 by Pustaka Primatama), deatiled labeling will be needed so that the public may learn that comics are not merely kid’s stuff, but are also works of art that offer the broadest space for critical interpretation.

In Signs in Contemporary Culture: An Introduction to Semiotics, Arthur Asa Berger writes that comics actually contain much reading material- but only if we care to do so. If we take care in reading Tidak Ada Sekolah Murah! we will find out just how powerful a comic can be – beyond merely graphic experimentation.*

Recent Published in The Jakarta Post/ Sunday, January 8, 2006, page 15

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RA Kosasih, The Indonesia’s Comic Godfather

Raden Ahmad Kosasih or better known as RA Kosasih born in Bondongan the village, Bogor on April 3, 1919. He is the youngest of seven siblings. Raden Wiradikusuma, his father was a merchant from Purwakarta and Sumarni while his mother came from Bogor. His love of the comic has been nurtured since the first grade Inlands School (elementary level) in Bogor. Kosasih first known comics from the newspapers used wrapping paper grocery mother. Formerly he was fond of Tarzan comic strip, though the story did not read sequentially. Another of his hobby is watching movies in theaters and puppet show performances that lasted all night.

Learn to draw interest in continuing education when he appeared at Hollands Inlands School (HIS) Pasundan in 1932. He learned from the many to imitate the pictures from illustrated books Dutch language lessons.
After graduating from HIS, Kosasih getting crazy about drawing lessons and watch a puppet show performances. “After watching the puppet show my head is filled with puppet story is complete with the characters. Imagined shadow continues the story,” he said. In addition to drawing, Kosasih also liked learning to play musical instruments like sitar and flute is always used in a puppet show performances. It seems that after graduating from HIS with good grades Kosasih more enthusiasm the world of art, especially the art of drawing though in fact he could continue his studies to become pamong praja.

In 1939 the Ministry of Agriculture, located in Bogor Botanical Gardens looking for employees who can draw animals and plants to illustrate the books that will be issued. Kosasih apply while carrying his drawings and then accepted. In addition to drawing animals and plants, Kosasih also drew a variety of insects seen through a microscope.

In 1942 when Japan entered into Indonesia’s life is felt to be difficult because the food is difficult to obtain. But at this time preoccupation Kosasih find themselves with a lot of reading comics former, one of Flash Gordon comic. Since most read comics that Kosasih also started making his own comics simply shared them out to neighborhood kids

In 1953 a newspaper published in Bandung, Pedoman contain advertisements seeking illustrator. Kosasih who still works at the Bogor Botanical Gardens apply to Melodi publishers who advertise. Kosasih accepted and began his debut to become a professional comic artists to create comic-influenced American superhero, Wonder Woman, named Sri Asih. His salary is big enough at that time that is equal Rp.4000 per month than in the Department of Agriculture Bogor for Rp.150. At that time Melodi publishing wanted to publish comics that mimics American comics.

Sri Asih comic character made Kosasih packing with Sundanese traditional clothing inspired by his love of watching a puppet show. Until now Sri Asih is arguably the first superhero from Indonesia long before the creation of Godam, Gundala, or Maza. Sri Asih made Kosasih was good appreciated by the public and as many as 3,000 copies sold out immediately.

After the great success of Sri Asih, spur young Kosasih spirit to create a new serial again that is Siti Gahara who dressed ala “1001 malam”. Siti Gahara also make a success as Sri Asih. Kosasih then make another female superhero named Sri Dewi who was also successful. Her spirits are increasingly burning. Added wild imagination. Remarkably, he even gave birth to the counter Sri Dewi vs Dewi Sputnik. “I want to show, modern versus tradition is not always won by the modern.Sri Dewi should still win, ha-ha-ha … “he said as quoted by the website

One hallmark of the comics made Kosasih is black and white sketches are drawn so detailed without color. Kosasih from fame and he sent many letters from his fans. Because it is so famous one of his fans who asked him to marry all by mail.

In the following years in the mid-1950s or LEKRA People’s Cultural Institute, an influential institution at the time condemned all products assessed westernized. Comics by Kosasih hit the criticism that makes Kosasih moved to create a new comic of the more Indonesia’s style. Because criticized by LEKRA homemade comics sales Kosasih declined and was replaced with the rise of comic publications from China.

KOmik Mahabharata


Actually in 1953 Kosasih propose to make a comic puppet but his idea was rejected because Melodi publishing are considered puppet are sacred and less worthy to be a comic. But these conditions did not dampen the spirit Kosasih to create a comic puppet. Together with his partner, Ardisoma, Kosasih began pioneering to make the comic puppet. Burisrawa Gandrung is the first comic puppet made Kosasih. The comics was published as much as 48 pages and is entitled Burisrawa Merindukan Bulan. Another puppet comic Mundinglaya Dikusuma and Ganesha Bangun also preferred reader. These comics was also great acclaim.

It thus makes Kosasih to actively look for ingredients such as researching various documents and requested the help of puppeteer to create comics that are categorized as major epics of India, the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The materials acquired from publishers such as Im Jam Tjoe who published a book of Ramayana from Semarang. In addition, he also get other materials from a book of library from Bogor Bagavat Gita (Mahabharata), published by Balai Pustaka. Kosasih decided to create a story based on the version of India and not the Java version because he said not many who know the original version of the story of the Mahabharata and Ramayana.

From 1955 until 1960 Kosasih make dozens of volumes of comics readers much preferred. Due to the increasing business makes Kosasih out of the Ministry of Agriculture, Bogor and chose to become a professional comic artist in 1955. He was willing to not get a pension like other employees because he wanna be a professional comic artist. In his work he used to make comics do in the afternoon, assisted by his nephew Atmadja as the writer of the text. Comics Mahabharata and Ramayana completion in 1956.

Unfortunately in the 1960s, precisely in the year 1967-1968 Melodi publishers with management changes did not extend his comic series so Kosasih resign. Although he came out, Kosasih still get the income from reprints his comics. Kosasih was called to work again by the Ministry of Agriculture Bogor, but he only lasted a few months. During this period he created the comic Cempaka, the story of Indonesian women like Tarzan.

Stop Making Comics

In 1964 Kosasih moved to Jakarta to make a comic with UP Lokajaya Publishing. In UP Lokajaya Kosasih making Kala Hitam and Setan Cebol. Unfortunately Kala Hitam and Setan Cebol comics only sold 2000 copies lower than his first creation comic serial in one month can be sold to 30,000 copies.

In 1967 UP Lokajaya Publishing based in Jakarta asked to draw back story of the Ramayana epic. Kosasih agreed but he drew a little differently when he was still doing time at Melodi Publishing. Unfortunately in 1968 Kosasih health began to decline. He stopped smoking and the rest to make comics for a year. After resting for a year he returned to Bogor.

Sri Dewi, a female superhero by Kosasih

After a year off and lived in Bogor in 1970 Kosasih started drawing comics again. This time he was working on comics for Maranatha, publishing from Bandung. Hearing Kosasih’s succesfull make comics puppets, Maranatha publishing ask Kosasih to draw back the story of the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Kosasih agreed. However, when he drawn back for Maranatha publishing the results are ugly. Kosasih considered to have failed. “Indeed, if I include a drawing mood. So, if sometimes be different at all, “he admitted.

Maranatha publishing print Kosasih’s comics as much as 1500 to 2000 copies once published. Name Kosasih increasingly soaring, especially among young people who end up so much to know about the puppet. Besides fame among lovers of comics, his name also used by the name of kungfu (silat) writer background Majapahit kingdom named Niki Kosasih successful in the mid-1980s through the story of radio plays Saur Sepuh.

Unfortunately in the 1980’s the popularity of comic puppet began to recede. Other comic artists like Djair, Man, Yan Mintaraga, and Ganes TH popping up so that helped dampen the prestige of the comic puppet by Kosasih. Even so Kosasih’s comics was published in limited editions in several places.

In addition, the circulation of comics that pretty much everywhere denounced as a lower reading trashy reading. Parents, teachers and the government even hostile to the comic as “poison” of education. Despite the declining popularity of comic puppet, Kosasih not stop working. Instead he draw comics folklore that has become a legend like Lutung Kasarung and Sangkuriang. Besides, he also makes a new series of serial Egul Mayangkara which gives the portion of the text more than images. This is done as a form of responsibility to the fans of the kids who read comics, comic besides of course the pressure from many quarters, especially from the education community to create comics that educate and make children so love to read books rather than comics.

Unfortunately, when age is growing older in 1993 Kosasih stop making comics. His hands were always shaking when he tried to draw. Now he lives in the Rempoa, South Jakarta with her children. His wife Lili Karsilah died in early 2005.

As a tribute to his dedication in the world of comic name Kosasih was crowned the name of the award for best comic Indonesia (Kosasih Award) held by Akademi Samali the comic community in Konde Festival (Komik Indonesia Satu Dekade/Indonesian Comics in One Decade) in 2007. “He is a comic artist who first published the comic in book form in Indonesia. His works are in the era of the 1960s to the 1970s are very well known,” said another senior comic artist, Dwi Koendoro (Kompas, January 9, 2009).

Until now the comics Kosasih still reprinted by the Erlina publishing and Maranatha in Bandung. Erlina Publishing, founded by the late Marcus Hadi is now intensified his wife, although with Erlina Marcus circulation of 1000 copies only. (Kompas, 15 August 2009). Apart from Maranatha and Erlina, Elex Publishing in Jakarta which is still a division from Gramedia group has also been reissued Kosasih work in the 1990’s in the format of a paperback book-sized like Japanese manga comics usually issued by Elex. In 2010-2011 Kosasih’s comics reprinted by Pluz+, a small publisher from Jakarta who always reprinted the greatest Indonesian comics classics.*

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Between Romance and Pedophilly

Title: Senjakala
Writer: Ni Komang Ariani
Content: viii+135 pages
Publisher: Koekoesan, 2010

Narrated Lily journalist from “Memoar” newspapers of a reliable reporter assigned to write the events of the disappearance of a boy in Gunung Kawi. Strangely before the boy disappeared Lily actually met the boy felt that in mind when he named Raka cover news there.

In its investigation when he was assigned reported also the loss of events the boy, Lily, a girl of Chinese descent type very hard worker who loved his work (until she got to forget about her boyfriend, Rafael) is then met Naka, Raka younger girl who turned into a moody when his brother disappeared mysterious. In short they became friends because Lily sympathetic to Naka. The expression of feelings of loss of his brother in a letter written drowned by Naka to the beach with the hope one day the letter was read by Raka.

Their relationship became intimate even willing to be a sister. Naka and Raka is an orphan boy who is a woodcarver. They are cared for by her grandmother. Until one day Lily met a local artist and gallery owner named Chakra which is also close to Naka. Their next meeting to be thrilling because of Chakra is so eloquent on the history of Bali enchanting Lily who was initially often make the Chakra as a trusted resource for writing an article about the island of Bali when Lily was assigned there.

Furthermore, they are in love until a sudden forget Naka also mysteriously disappeared. Although they finally make love, relationships Lily-Chakra opposed local communities who feel more suited get the Bali’s girl. Chakra is also highly respected as a cultural gain “social punishment” of the people because he made love with Lily, the girl outside Bali.

At the end of the new story exposed that Raka was kidnapped and murdered by the pedophilia (sexual attraction to small children), foreign tourists to Bali. An actual case is still in Bali in mid-2000 until now.

Nothing marred

Reading this novel the reader will carry over to the exoticism of Bali that presented by the author’s observant enough. Various footnotes given enough writer to explain so that readers who are not Balinese people can understand well. One thing that is interesting though this novel uses the island setting and the chance was written by the Balinese are also in this book is not much use of local languages ​​so that comforting the reader outside Bali.

Usually novels written with a particular background area “tease” the author to explain the many narratives in local languages ​​so that the less comforting readers who are not from the area being discussed. For example that occurs in the novel Bidadari Hitam (Dark Angel, 2008) the author’s work in Aceh, TI Thamrin so that readers from outside Aceh, rather stumble in enjoying the story. It is also “trap” like Mutiara Karam a novel by Tusiran Suseno who became the second winner of the Sayembara Novel Dewan Kesenian Jakarta 2006 that despite success in the competition but failed to attract the type of readers who come from urban or non-Malay region which became the setting. Strength novel with not too “self absorbed” is also about setting the origin of the author reminds us of the novel Bulan Lebam di Tepian Toba (Month Bruises on the shores of Toba, 2009) work by Sihar Ramses Simatupang strong with locality Batak but still comforting the reader from outside the Batak.

Ni Komang Ariani as a writer actually flowing with simple, even the exoticism not been marred by “preoccupation” indulgence in the locality, one advantage that unfortunately if not explored very well may as well be a weakness that often occurs on the background of the author of a particular area.

By lifting the atmosphere of the locality of Bali is told very interesting so that readers can imagine a view with detail, readers become (slightly) thought of the work of women writers Oka Rusmini Bali. Avoidance of metaphor laudable as the aesthetic power of this novel is narrated in a coherent let alone his story. The events described by linear, mixing infiltrated by strengthening the impression of experience and appreciation.

Yet in reading this novel is a bit unfortunate the author did not bring his character Lily to uncover further cases of the disappearance of two boys. Lily described only taker, a journalist who only perform tasks as the witness. It appears that the author deliberately did not let his character late in the problem so that reading this novel just feels flat. Lily is not a “hero” because he was then trapped in a love affair with the local youth. One other advantage that it should be noted, this novel does not get stuck on so many characters that appear. All figures have emerged as the portions so that comforting the reader.

No sentimental

Uniquely different ethnic romance themes (relationships Lily opposed by local people because he was not a resident of Bali who are “entitled to” get the youth Chakra highly respected indigenous people) who appointed the author did not become sentimental one thing that “trap” is generally the author that although this novel is actually romance, but the element of story building with the loss after her brother Raka Naka in the middle managed to build a new conflict is actually exciting.

This novel is interesting because it can be enjoyed two audiences at once, the reader of literature and non-literary. Very rarely is a novel like this, so he was quite a refresher on the reader hungry for the novel is light but does not sacrifice the values ​​of literature.

If the reader of literature will gasp with author set the story in part composed of letters written by the boy lost Naka plus beautiful panoramic view of Bali and its governance exotic cultures, otherwise non-literary readers will be satisfied with the romance of the seasonings in the middle of the story.

Although no ambition to carry the potential for new narrative, this novel remains compelling as solid realism that brought authors from beginning to end with a simple and honest as it is without pretensions to be great reading. Simplicity became the allure of this book is capable of nailing the reader until the last page. *

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Film as Cultural Assets: Waiting for Godot

Indonesian film history is already long enough. But somehow the film from the past until now Indonesia is still not regarded as an important cultural asset that is always “serving” in the “taste” of merchants within the framework of “amusing ourselves to death” as the title of the book by a professor of communications experts from New York, Neil Postman.

The film is said to still be considered as a commodity, so always rely on “Prominence” (fame) stars from the world of soap operas achieved, advertising, or models. In an interview in the tabloid “Kabar Film” issue of January 16, 2011 and a number of film mass media, renowned producer Shankar RS when launching his latest film, starring Julia Perez and Dewi Perssik always said that his film “Arwah Goyang Karawang” (which later changed its title to  “Arwah Goyang Jupee-Depee”) intends to appoint a rocking Indonesian popular culture as jaipongan. In short he wants to say his films are marginalized raised local culture! In fact when watching the movie it’s really just a tawdry horror story that is actually “pretend” lift the local culture by selling sensuality and enmity of two famous celebrities Dewi Perssik and Julia Perez! Tail, residents protested the film banned in Karawang and there because they refuse there is no culture of Karawang is actually featured in the film.

So, if the producer himself considered his film not only merchandise under the pretext of “culture” is actually happening in Indonesia is still repeating the same old song is played back. There were still movies like “Lost in Papua” (dear why the title should speak English?), “Tebus”, or “Rumah Tanpa Jendela” is still carrying a bit of idealism is not just merchandise but the asceticism of art that actually still accounted worthy.

It’s an investment to produce a widescreen movie is not easy matter. A lot of money at stake for it but why it is so rarely think of making a movie or at least easy (though expensive) to circulate back to old movies that have been classified as classic as a cultural asset?

Not many film schools established so that people merely fixated only on graduates Institut Kesenian Jakarta (IKJ), which opened formal film education. Here’s an example of government as well as our film industry is merely memerlakukan film as a commodity. Actors become narrow with only display the names that’s it. Or if you really want to use the new players who their sallary can be cut with the “friend price” is always among the world’s only model. The rest really departed from the world of theater is only a supporting role or honored to be “acting coach” (teacher of acting) alone.

Probably still too much to expect the government to direct its attention to the film as a cultural asset by providing support to open a variety of formal education or help send Indonesian film maker to international film festivals. And it continues to be terminated with the cessation of subsidies for Sinematek Indonesia pioneered by cinematographer Misbach Yusa Biran or participating reproduce Indonesian classic films that have colored the history of Indonesian film lovers community so that audiences Indonesian movies easy to get it like it is easy to get old collection of quality movies from Hollywood or other countries continuously processed in the form of VCD or DVD.

Indeed investment to recycle old movies Indonesia quite expensive because it involves the restoration image and sound processing are only able to be processed with advanced technology. It is said that said a friend who had wanted to trejun into film cost up to seven billion dollars. But if nothing is thought of that if Indonesian classic films ever made this nation continuously fragrant only able to reach by art lovers and actors who are familiar with the activities of cultural pockets just like the recently organized by Kineforum-Committee Film from Dewan Kesenian Jakarta?

Recycling old movie is one of the proposal to lift the film as a cultural asset that can supposedly also sold to overseas besides helping provide ease of filmmakers and producers market their own films new movie either inside or outside the country through the international film festival.

Many Asian countries like Korea or other countries raised their existence through the film he had produced so that the names of foreign filmmakers such as Majid Majidi or Jafar Panahi of Iran came up out of the country. Indonesia’s own films during the golden age anyway until the film was written by Pete Tombs observer in his book “Mondo Macabre” (Titan Books, 1997) who wrote the Indonesian movies as cultural studies (this time aimed specifically at the horror and action films of Indonesia) stretched from Brazil, Hong Kong, Mexico, Argentina, to Japan. Why not Indonesia? Was not really in its long history Indonesian movies yet actually be able too intrigued to be studied as cultural studies?

Is indeed sad that the attitude of our arts activist government is also in the film world because it still freezes just think in the short term, so the results are always the sole reality of the public. The free market is already giving a lot of opportunities, only he still considered narrow in the sense of always repeating the cliche of understanding stereotypes. Disturbing question, until when the Indonesian film would be considered a cultural asset? Is the same as waiting for Godot? *

Rawamangun, April 2011

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