Indonesia’s comic book artists have grown significantly in recent times. The “manga-comic” from Japan has contributed to the increase in comic production over the last decade.
Cendana Art Media is one of the most active publishing companies who produces an array of Indonesian comic artists since 2008. Its impressive portfolio includes graphic novels and comics such as “101 Surviving Super Singles” and “Hidup Itu Indah” (Life Is Beautiful).
Travel writing has blossomed in Indonesia in the last decade. Indonesia’s leading travel writer who goes by the name Trinity published a genre-defining book called “The Naked Traveler” in 2007. In 2010, in collaboration with illustrator Sheila Rooswitha, Trinity published another traveling comic book “Duo Hippo Dinamis” (Dynamic Hippo Duo). Travel-genre books have grown in the country due to a lot of urban people take on traveling for leisure.
Ika W. Burhan, a comic artist, launched her first comic book titled “101 Humor Backpacker Nekat” (101 Adventurous Backpacker’s Humor) last May.
Ika, currently working as collections conservator and public relations officer at cultural center Bentara Budaya, regularly travels for leisure. She has traveled to many European countries, India, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and plenty others. In her first book, she gathered her memories while traveling and drew her experiences. The result: humorous and fresh.
When traveling overseas, she encountered numerous hilarious and comical moments. Cultural differences, climate changes, varying traveling companions, as well as some differences in technical stuff, add more humor to her tales.
She once tried to place order for a no-pork meal in Thailand and failed. In another time in India she asked for directions to airport only using body language and, again, failed. Even more so, coming from Indonesia, Ika was not accustomed to seeing couples making out in public. This is an experience she had to face for the first time in a European country.
These cultural shocks while meeting new people in new places and encountering new cultures create cultural collision, and Ika captured them well in the book. “101 Humor Backpacker Nekat” sometimes feels like a diary. But it’s more than that: it’s filled with handy traveling tips and fresh ideas on how to adapt in new situations when traveling.
According to Ika, she spent about 3 months to draw and sent the draft to the independent publisher. It then took almost a year to finalize the drafted piece. Today, Ika promotes her book and tries to compete in the mainstream comic books market.
Mainstream comic books market, dominated by male comic artists and mostly subjected to female images, is now opening up to female comic artists, which is a good thing. Female comic artists’ entrance to the mainstream market breaks the male-dominated genre who often exploits and sells their counterparts’ sensuality. Ika, on the other hand, portrays the female in her comic book differently — a genre that is humorous and has not been traveled by many comic artists before her.
Women’s efforts on creating their own style, offering female perspectives, building intriguing characters, telling inspiring stories, have opened up an opportunity for fellow women to participate in the comic industry. In this country, female artists still have a long way to a triumphant win in the industry but their fresh, new ideas begin to emerge, and that’s definitely a good thing, especially in independent publishing.
101 Humor Backpacker Nekat
Author: Ika W. Burhan
Publisher: Cendana Art Media
Order copies of the book at email@example.com
Olin Monteiro is a writer and feminist working in Jakarta.