Saturday, September 20, 2003

Con, Corn, Chaos 

September 13

Have a long sleep. No show today! I hit email and try to catch up.

[Still a few days behind but getting there. Hit main blog for latest Thai / Cambodia adventures.]


Below: packin' up.

We have a meeting today to assess the con - at twelve I arrive at the venue, 'Societ Militer'. Geez, half the convention is here. I'd thought it was a day trip but as it turns out they've rented a bus and we're gonna go to the mountains - 'Kaliurang'. It's right near one of 'the world's most active volcanoes' but that doesn't seem to deter them.

"Let me guess, we're gonna have a bonfire, hold hands and sing 'Kumbaya'?" I ask Athonk. He just grins.

After yet another free lunch everyone jumps into the bus. It's a spread out city. There are few buildings over two stories, shops of every imaginable kind, and canals and rivers that run through the town. It's very spread out. You may turn a corner and find yourself passing through a rice field, then back to a residential district.
I'm struck by the lack of English teaching signs. I've seen one or two the whole trip. It's weird, these are ubiquitous in Cambodia. Just shows how much more infrastructure there is here.

Someone's brought a guitar along, most of the crew from 'Moral Rabbit' are here - as it turns out, their correct name is Koncorn Chaos : 'Chaos of Chaos'. A fair bit of singing which is good fun.

Lots of Western pop songs have percolated through to Southeast Asia. In this case, Led Zeppelin, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, John Denver, the Beatles, plus lots of others, veering back and forth between Indonesian tunes and English. [Hey, American readers/music snobs - how many foreign language songs do YOU know?] It's funny, they know 'I Will Survive' but the intonations are straight from the Cake version, not Gloria Gaynor.

The bus creaks to a stop at a small resort place that has beds for 10 or 12 - as the motorcycles start zipping up I realize we're about thirty.

More food arrives. Lots of singing, sketching and general goofing around. We've also got a big pile of corn for the barbecue.

There is strong interest for some reason in Jason Shiga's book, Double Happiness.

Of all the books I've brought it's the one that everybody seems to dig. Maybe because its story could happen in any big city Chinatown. The fact that he credits legendary SE Asian cartoonist Lat & draws from his themes doesn't hurt either.

Also of interest is the Alternative Press Expo 2001 brochure Athonk has brought. (I can't help but think that beyond the obvious interest in an Indie comics convention, the cover Craig Thompson's drawn has patterns that almost resemble batik. You think?)

As it gets dark and as we eat a meeting is held to discuss the convention. One of the Indonesian Comics society guys gets it going and commendations and complaints are both aired. It ends on a positive note, this is the biggest and best con yet! We all stand up and hold hands (guess my earlier question was correct) and the convention is over.

Corn & Chaos:

Party time! A bonfire is started and some beer is whisked out.

I discuss the Aceh Komik with MKI dude WahJoe Soegianto. The idea came originally from the 9-11 comics. If artists can respond to 9-11, why not respond to the Aceh situation? It's a good thought. Last time I was in Indonesia Athonk had been thinking about an Aceh comic, and after hearing some scary reports about Aceh, I had been thinking the same.

The Aceh Komik selection will be done by an MKI jury in December. Some stories and styles address it quite well. What's interesting is that there don't seem to be any pro-GAM (resistance organization) or pro-separatist strips. Also, I'm not sure if there are Achenese komikus who have contributed. There must be some? But I'm impressed at the attempt to address the issue. This sort of approach would be impossible just a few years ago.

"Yeah, sounds interesting" I tell Wahjoe. "I just wish the USA would do 'Artists Respond to Afghanistan" or "Artists Respond to Iraq". We both laugh.

More singing and goofing around. After some corn, a few beers and lotsa music everyone crashes out, most on the floor. Can't beat komik lifestyle.

Word for the day: lagi (again). Lagi lagi!

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