Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Torture of Hell, 'Petruk', Komiks and beer. 

September 09.
Feeling a little under the weather this morning. I've been eating a fair bit of local food, which isn't a problem in Cambodia. Maybe travel is just catching up with me? There's mail for Athonk at his uncle's hotel. I bring it on over.

Agung has already got the booth set up when I arrive, for most of this Con he's the first to show up and the last to leave.

Bambang Toko comes by and gives me two old comics: "Torture of Hell", a comic advising about the dangers of falling off the righteous path. It's not too far from the more extreme Christian comics.

Also on the same moral theme, "Vice and Drugs", featuring Petruk, a Wayang (Shadow Puppet) character who is a wiseguy/buffoon with buck teeth and a cowlick.

My advice: girls, stay away from any guy with buck teeth and a long nose! He's trouble!

Would love to chat some more & see what Mr. Comix Shop is up to but am feeling like a zombie. I get a Coke from a vendor outside to settle my stomach. I can't carry on much of a conversation in Indonesian but just point to my midsection and say 'sakit'.

I crash out on the mat behind the booth. Athonk and Laine arrive. We're selling beer today, Athonk's brought a cooler. It's a good idea. If you can have "comics and cards", why not comics and beer? I remember once Evan Dorkin suggesting "comics and milk"; the idea you have to lump role playing games and cards in with comics is something worth examining.

(image courtesy Sektekomik)

One of the Tarang Padi guys says hello.

Last time I saw them they were squatting in the remains of Yogya's abandoned art school. This time around they have an interview in "Blank", the Indonesian design magazine. I ask him if he'd like to do an mini-interview and he's game.

["Mini-Interview??" Last trip to Indonesia was great, but I overloaded on comics and notes. After I landed at my next stop, Cambodia, I was busy processing that. The result? No time for Indo writeup. So this time I'm making an effort to do everything in a small format, on a daily basis. Mini interviews (Like 10 questions, that I write up immediately after). Blog postings. One hour comics. Mr. Fast, that's me.]

But these industrious and ambitious thoughts will have to wait, the spirit is willing but the body is weak. I head back to the hotel and crash out. We're talking on networking the "global underground" tonight so I'd better get some rest. (Athonk is enthused by the letter; it's a request for info from Rick Bradford of Poopsheet.)

Feeling more human after nap. Laine and I go out and get some plain white rice, which I then proceed to eat. The beer is selling OK, Athonk can open the bottles with one of his rings.

Laine's brought her laptop plug, it works! I will have to buy an adapter. We both have some writing to do on the convention.

Benk's Malaysian Komiks are selling well. He has copies of a bimonthly magazine he's been in.

The translation is coming along but I won't have it pasted by the end of today, I'm too wiped. Wanted to give out copies after the talk, but fuck it, I should be checking out more of the show.

Dinner (all provided by the show organizers - food is cheap here!) arrives. I proceed to slowly work on that. Athonk: "You eat like beggar!" Considering our income from comics, there's some truth to that.

I start feeling a bit better, just in time for the diskusi at 8pm. The participants are Firman, one of the MKI guys (Indonesian Comics Society) Agung, Athonk and myself. It's moderated by Benk. We all introduce ourselves.

It's a little tricky proceeding by translation, but we manage. Some points I try to make:

-Indonesia needs to network independent creators both within Southeast Asia and in the larger global context.
-There are no women creators attending the talk. A healthy scene would have more women creators. I note that there's a fair number of women creators in Australia, which makes quite a difference for content & community.
-All Southeast Asian comics communities need to address the flood of cheap translated manga that is a challenge to their own indigenous expression. I like manga but do not like how cheap translations can constrain the market.
-Hopefully next show can have other Southeast Asian creators.
-In 1997 underground comics were still illegal. Six years later, Athonk is an invited guest at a convention panel. The Indonesian publishing scene is changing dramatically.
-If artists want to have their independent comics published, they would do well to look to Europe (Especially France) and Japan. (My translator looks at me at this point to confirm, "really"? Yes, France.) I go and get my volume of Trondheim and Sfar's Donjon series to get this one across.
-Indonesia could do with a "Xeric" - grant like award, if they could line up some funders. I hand around copies of Jason Shiga's Double Happiness and Rachael Masilimani's RPM as examples.

-I'm asked what I think about the Indonesian comics scene. I say it looks good just from these few days (which garners some cheers).
-I'm asked which Cambodian comics I prefer. I like the adaptations of legends and myths.
-I'm asked about how Cambodian and Vietnamese comics compare, which I can't answer directly, I haven't been to Vietnam. I do note that Vietnam is highly literate, but has stronger press controls. Cambodia has more press freedom, but does not have a strong publishing industry.

The talk wraps up. A few more people come by for beers and soon after it's time to go.

Back in the Sosro area, I make an attempt to catch up on the blog. Now it's turning quote marks into gobbledygook. I have to optimize every damn image I upload too.

Warren Ellis and Bruce Sterling are big on mobile weblogging (moblogging) but they’re just uploading big slabs of text. For comics it’s a little more complicated.

I give up and turn in early. I'll just have to go by my written notes, later. Low tech wins again.

Word for day: Sakit (sick).

Tomorrow: Cambodian Comics day!

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