Foreground: Beng and snack cakes.
John Weeks: You’ve just moved back to Yogya [Yogyakarta, Indonesia] from Malaysia, bringing lots of comics. When did you come back?
Beng Rahadian: Three weeks ago.
JW: You were doing art and design in Malaysia?
BR: I was an animator. I made one page comics in the magazine ‘Aku Dan Sesuatu’. ['Myself and Nobody']
JW: I noticed you selling that at the convention. That’s a newsstand magazine?
BR: 2 magazines a month.
JW: Is it a comics magazine? Or comics and culture?
BR: I think comic magazine, maybe one page culture.
JW: What kind of animation were you doing?
BR: I worked in corporate animation, we make for TV film.
JW: It wasn’t the ‘Lat’ animation, was it?
BR: (Laughs) No. It was for local television.
JW: Now you’re selling some of your comics at the convention. [PKAN 4] They take place in Yogya. You have Muka Belai, Mindak Terbang, and Salamat Pagi, Urbaz.
BR: Urbaz is from ‘urban’. I say because Yogyakarta is mainly urban.
JW: Could you tell us a little about each one? Muko Belai?
BR: ‘Trunk Face’, it’s a dream story. It could take place anywhere.
JW: Mindak Terbang [Flying Objects] is next, there is a mystery.
BR: It is inspired from social conflict in Indonesia, about politics. The true conflict is about politics. They talk something about mystic, mystical happen.
JW: …but is really politics.
BR: Troublemaker magician – but actually the people are political activists.
JW: This happens in many countries in Southeast Asia I think. Black magic and politics.
Salamat Pagi Urbaz [Good Morning Urban People] is your newest one. It takes place in Yogya 2003, with a Jakarta person visiting. You see the city with her.
BR: And in the end, the visitor gives a question to this guy.
‘I must go.’
‘Because school is very expensive.’
I have one [similar] idea with Agung [Komikaze].
JW: That’s interesting, I can recognize a lot of sights from Yogya, the different things on the street. And you have lots of details, like the pollution.
BR: [Pointing at comic] Pornography. This guy wants to buy a pornographic magazine, [they say] ‘we sell script to graduate’ – paper to graduate for examination.
JW: Oh – cheating! So they can use the paper for their school.
BR: ‘I sell to them.’
JW: And why is this person crying here?
BR: She feels ashamed. She tells to everyone ‘There is pornography here.’ Very taboo, in Indonesia.
JW: Now there is an explosion of pornography, with the opening of the press [after Suharto]. It’s a different publishing environment.
Do you hope to print these short stories?
BR: Yes, if one publisher want to publish this comic is OK but the content is not changed.
JW: So you create this first, then you will submit. What is in the future?
Will you do more cartoon stories like this?
BR: Yes, I enjoy to make like this.
JW: I notice it’s also a very animation oriented style. Things change according to people’s feelings. Sometimes realistic, sometimes surreal.
BR: I am influenced by Japanese cartoons, European too. And this [page] is influence from film, ‘The Shaolin Soccers’.
I saw the actress, she walks across the football field, very quiet, like the hero, and she brushes the goalkeeper and suddenly faces the goal, very surprised.
JW: So it comes from many influences.
BR: Dwi Koendoro is maybe my dominant influence.
JW: So more comics like this in the future.
BR: For this comic one publisher in Indonesia want to publish.
BR: If you want to publish this, don’t change anything inside.
JW: Next year, you are thinking of an independent comics convention?
BR: Independent comics festival or convention – not yet.
JW: And this will maybe be some of the participants from PKAN 4 convention?
BR: I think the participants will have a real thinking about indie comics, independent comics.
JW: So maybe 2004?
Salamat Pagi Urbaz
Indonesian Independent Comics
Jokja Komik Scene
Selamat Pagi Jokja