Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Cambodian Comics Day 

September 10

Begin the day with a cappucino at Café FM, where the sign advertises, 'probably Yogya's best restaurant'. Caffeine buzz in action, I bechak it over to the show. Ah, life is tough being a komikus - international travel, exploring new cultures. Maybe I should have stayed with being an astrophysicist… but that's another story.
All I can say is you could do a reality TV show about comic artists and never run out of material.

I've decided today is 'Cambodian Comics Day': 8000 rupiah for a comic and a 'krama' scarf. I also have a photocopied reader of older, out of print comics for sale.

More work on the translation. There's a high school workshop in progress, Benk and Agung are pitching in.

I swap comics with a fellow who does the eponymous 'Jail' komik - nice style. (Pix to follow.)

More news from Laine about East Timor and Oceussi. We blip out to get an adapter plug for my laptop. It's handy being near the market - and parts of it are open 24 hours.

Enjoying Swacomsta , a little cartoon done by some moonlighting animators.

I need to get started on those mini-interviews. Damn, I'm going to have a lot of things to scan. Intend to fully re-mix and optimize this blog when I return to Siem Reap.

Jam strips are getting passed around, mixed Indonesian and English.

I take some time out for email and personal stuff - life goes on, regardless of where you are or what you're doing.

Back at the show, the high school workshop is finished. And the scarves are getting some appreciation - mostly the girls want them. ("Do I have to take a comic?" Yes.) We sell out most of our Cambodian comics by the end of the day.

I also have some Krama ties which the guys dig. It looks like most of what I say about Cambodian comics will be informal, but I'm getting word out to the people who would be most interested anyway - the comics freaks.

Bambang Toko's diskusi on teaching komiks takes place, wish I could understand it. I spend some time reading Bukan Komik ('not a comic'), an anthology by what seems to be mostly MKI folks. Some good strips playing with form and content. And Ari Prasetyo's comic, Si Raja Bau.

Also some good music outside.

More people come by for beer. Yeah, beer and komiks!

Show wraps up at 10. Another attempt at blogging. It's just so damn slow.

Word for the day: Bir = beer. (Tricky, no?)

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!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

  Site Meter