Sekilas Komik Indonesia


Since 1996 the ‘National Comic Week’ has presented a yearly celebration of formally published (that is, those with ‘permission’ and slick presentations) Indonesian-made comics. In other words, it glorifies bad marketing, lack of distribution, limitations, translations, Western copies, censorship, ideological repetition, and the ‘Golden Age’ (legend and silat comics from the 60s and 70s). In 1999 local independent or underground comics were first permitted to appear in the festivities. Independents are those comics created by admirers of the art or those who simply choose to express themselves through the medium. These mini comics are ‘self-published’, meaning they are photocopied, distributed amongst friends, and occasionally sold in local shops. Illegal prior to May 1998, by the 1999 Comic Week, fifteen ‘studios’ or groups from Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Surabaya and Denpasar were actively making and self-publishing comics. With the idealism of the moment, mixed with the thrill of legitimacy and finally seeing their work in the same exhibition space as the great Indonesian komikus (Jan Mintaraga, RA Kosasih and others), Wahyoe Soegijanto, head of the Indonesian Comic Community (MKI) claimed great things for indie comics – while maintaining New Order discourse: “We’re moving ahead step by step to advance Indonesian comics as our contribution to the development of Indonesia”. By the 2000 exhibition, however, these independents were already reduced in number and confined to one corner of the hall.

What is so important about comics? For one, Indonesians love them and have a long, fond history of growing up with them. But if comics mirror the environment in which they appear, the ‘Golden Age’ was a time of heroes and legends, whereas now Indonesia is an occupied nation. Very few komikus have found their own voice under reformasi. The vast majority of comics on display at the 2000 Expo this past February were copies of western comics in terms of art, story, design, location, characterization, and even language.

Rendra had once described freedom of expression as a reflection of the artist’s degree of contact with the people, life, and nature, an ability to express the truth, or soul of society. So why are most Indonesian comics utterly removed from any direct contact with the everyday world? With reformasi, comics have the potential to reflect social and political life way beyond other types of communication. Where are these models of contemporary culture we would expect to see in such a genre? Now let’s go back to that little indie corner of the exhibition and see what comics look like when freed from the stranglehold of slick presentation or censorship.

First, there were the classics. Self-published comics had been a trend on campuses since 1994. By 1996 groups of Yogyakarta-based art students compiled their efforts into Core Comic, Komik Selingkuh, Kiri Komik, Petak Umpet Komik, and Komik Haram out of love for the medium, the need for self-expression, and in a vain attempt to revive a much missed local tradition. For the most part, and precisely like indies anywhere else in the world, they remain economically utterly unsuccessful. Like indie artists elsewhere too, many are self-conscious about presenting their work in public, evidenced by opening statements that justify their efforts as socially useful, “Jakarta the hot and filthy can be transformed into a comic!!” (Komec Perjoeangan, 1999, Rudi H.), or avoid criticism by referring to the comic as garbage and without meaning (Rampok, 1999, by Emte).

The indie theme in the pre-Reformasi era was predominantly despair. One of the earliest (1996) in the group comic output was Komik Selingkuh (Deception). This comic-cum-manual is entirely devoted to deception with the ultimate goal of luring someone into sexual engagement. Success or failure both lead to the same ending: a fight with the wife, financial debt, unwanted children, divorce, misery, suicide, and the comfort and joy of imagining and/or doing the whole sex scene again. Regardless of the consequences, sex as the reward for a good deception heavily outweighs the negatives, at least in terms of its presentational build-up within the comic.

Core Comics (1996) self-published a series called Berteman dengan Anjing (Befriending Dogs). Each volume contains compilations that conform to various dog themes, nearly all violent: dogs as mad scientists, dog heaven where dogs curse at and abuse people, space dogs fall in love with earth women, and others too weird to identify. Tanggaku Kirik (My Neighbor is a Puppy) compiles stories based in dog worlds, where humans are the beasts, and dog dreams, aspirations for love, to become human, or to just survive. As a whole, nearly every story has a sad ending where man beats dog or dog aspires to greatness and fails.

Most of the New Order era indies share this pessimism, while, and totally unlike indie comics in Australia or the States, avoiding any sense of a self within the social environment. By 1999, however, indies are beginning to show more autobiographical work, based on ‘the material at hand’ turned into a story or just a simple exposé of life. Not all of it is depressing or pornographic either as seen in the Komec Perjoeangan by Rudi H. His inscription reads “Indonesia pancen Oke Lho” (Indonesia is definitely OK, you know), and the comic reveals tidbits of the young man’s life and experiences that are thoroughly normal and ‘definitely OK’.

Nowhere to be seen at the 2000 Comic Expo was the work of the Yogya-based comic and organizational wizard, Bambang Toko. Bambang was the organizer for Core Comic and later moved to the far more interesting Apotik Komik. While extremely active makers of comics as autobiography, full of word plays and local trends, Apotik Komik also has taken comics to the streets through their humorous posters and by decorating walls and billboards. Their collective works have developed a good balance between telling a familiar story and using humor as a way to promote thought and different perspectives. Yet, they, and all the other Yogya komikus chose to boycott the 2000 Comic Expo. Hopefully, by the 2001 Expo, komikus, publishers, and the Indonesian public will make more effort to look forward instead of back and support a more lively, relevant local comic industry.

Source: “Independence and idealism through Comics” Inside Indonesia No 62. July-September 2000. Dutch translation appears in Stripschrift. Jaargang 32 – nummer 10 (327).

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“Bloodbath over Sanur Beach” by Ganes Th

This is the English version of “Banjir Darah di Pantai Sanur” by Ganes Th, translated by Edwin Hendra Kusuma and remastered by Erwin Prima.

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Book I
Page 1
It was late afternoon when an old man reached a village in the eastern part of Java. His face was darkly tanned, indicating how far he had traveled.

Reaching the center of the village he saw anxiety in the faces of the villagers. People were crowding, talking about something serious…
Villager 1: Isn’t there anybody able to save the baby’s life from the crook hiding in that hut, brother?
Villager 2: There’s a wanderer trying for hours to persuade the desperate crook, but to no avail!!

Page 2
A young woman was sobbing tearfully, standing assisted by several people near a hut. From the hut came the crying of a baby! A wanderer was sitting calmly before the hut…
Made Ngurah: What’s going on?

Barda: I believe deep in your heart you still have conscience! Come out and give back the innocent baby to the mother! Trust me, we will guarantee your safety!
Crook: To hell with your preaching!! Leave!! Or I’ll kill the baby! Leave!

Page 3
The blind wanderer sighed. His face darkened. Slowly he rose, and in a deep voice he said…
Barda: You really are stubborn! Seems like the devil had changed your heart with a stone! Listen to the baby’s weakening wail!
Crook: Don’t come any closer! Watch it! I’m going to kill this baby! Leave!
Baby’s mother: Dear God! Please help my baby! Oh, my baby…!!

Calmly the blind wanderer picked a banana leave, shaping it into a sort of bowl, and filled it with water…

Page 4
Crook: Go away! Leave! Come closer and I’ll kill this baby!!
Barda: Take pity on the innocent baby. He’s really thirsty. Give him a mouthful of water to stop his crying. You wouldn’t be bother by the crying, would you?

The blind wanderer sat again. The situation was tense. Heartbeat seemed to race within every single people who stood frozen around the hut. Every pair of eyes stared fixedly to the hut’s door! The baby still cried pitifully….!

Page 5
All hold their breath. Blood seemed to freeze in their vein when slowly the door of the hut opened slightly… A hand reached out to take the water-filled banana leave…

On the same second a shadowy figure flashed and grabbed the hand!!

Page 6
The crook was thrown to the front of the hut…. Swaying, his face was terribly sliced!!

Page 7
Now, once again your favorite warrior, The Blind of The Ghost Cave, fight between life and death in The Bloodbath In Sanur Beach. To save mankind from the savage tyranny, seven magnificent warriors were ready to sacrifice their lives!

Page 8
People were shouting when the crook fell on the dirt! The baby’s life was saved!
Baby’s Mother: Oh my child! My baby!

The blind of the ghost cave smiled compassionately, his tears welled. Touched, he caressed the baby gently…
Barda: You are luckier than I am, child! You can still feel the warmth of your mother’s love!

Page 9
Everybody was crowding around the crook’s dead body, and no one noticed when the blind of the ghost cave silently left that place… No one but the old man!
Villagers: After robbing and killing several villagers, the crook ran into this village, chased by the furious villagers! He then hid in that hut, holding the baby a hostage! No one dared to help the baby… Thank god the blind wanderer suddenly appeared…

Barda: Hm… Two people are following me…! What do they want?!

Page 10
Made Ngurah: Please wait, honorable warrior… Excuse me… I… I’d like to have a word with you…

Barda: What do the two of you want from me?
Made Ngurah: The two of us? It’s only me… I meant to….

Page 11
Barda: Isn’t he your companion? He too has been following me from that village…

The old man came to the strange young man…
Made Ngurah: Who are you, young man? Why are you following that warrior?
Gito: He is my master!

Page 12
Made Ngurah: The young man consider you his master, honorable warrior…
Barda: Master? Ha-ha-ha-ha…. I didn’t know I have any pupil!

Barda: Now, tell me, what do you really want from me. I hope I can help you…
Made Ngurah: Thank you… It is your help that I really need… I came from a village named Sanur in Bali, the Isle of Gods as the people call it, and my name is Made Ngurah…

Page 13
Made Ngurah: Sanur is a peaceful beach. We live in the inner part as farmers. Our land is fertile, our people hard working, and our village became prosperous…! However, disaster fell upon us every harvest time…

Made Ngurah: A band of robbers led by a fierce, demon-hearted man named Gusti Ibandeu Puraray. Every harvest time he and his band attacked our village, ravaging our belongings, our cattle, and murdering of our villagers, even women and children!
Gusti Ibandeu: Loot them!! Kill them!! Burn them all!!! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha..!!!

Page 14
Made Ngurah: So we are haunted by endless fear… We have no strength to fight back. There are hundreds of them! To end the disaster, there’s only one way! Finding mighty warriors who can defend our village from the cursed robbers! After some discussion, our village chief assigned me to travel and find the warriors who are willing to fight for the sake of humanity. For that purpose, our people had prepare a decent bounty for the destruction of the band of robbers! We would be very grateful if you would help us….

Barda: For the sake of humanity, I will help find the warriors. Let’s go!
Made Ngurah: Oh, than you!

Page 15
The young man followed the the two man who bore a duty to humanity. He kept on following like a little child in fear of losing his mother… When the blind of the ghost cave turned, the young man stopped and pretended to take no notice…
Barda: Go away! You are too young for this far and dangerous journey!

In spite of himself, Barda Mandrawata, the blind of the ghost cave smiled, seeing the childish attitude of the young man. Suddenly they stopped. The earth below them was shaken by the powerful blow of a great ax! A man built like a bull was cutting logs to pieces by a single blow!
Barda: Listen! The man is really strong!!

Page 16
Suddenly, a thin, pale-faced man appeared…
Daeng Martundong: You are exceptionally strong… However, your muscles slow you down. Not agile enough!
Gajah Menggala: Huh?! Are you saying that you are more agile and better than I am, pal?!

Page 17
Daeng Martundong: Ah, no! I meant to say that great strength doesn’t mean anything without agility…!
Gajah Menggala: So you meant to say that I am nothing compares to you? Hm! You are really insulting Gajah Menggala, pal!

Gajah Menggala: All right! Let’s prove who will fell on the dirt!! Come on! Draw your weapon, pal!
Daeng Martundong: You misunderstood me!

To be continued.

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Ganes Th dan Korpus Tujuh Pendekar

oleh Seno Gumira Ajidarma
Dipublikasikan di harian Kompas, 20 Agustus 2006

Kisah “Banjir Darah di Pantai Sanur”, yang diterbitkan pertama kali tahun 1968, adalah perayaan atas keempuan Ganes Th sebagai penggubah komik. Jika “Si Buta dari Gua Hantu” (1967) adalah tonggak pertama, dan “Misteri di Borobudur” (1967) mengukuhkannya, maka “Banjir Darah di Pantai Sanur” adalah demonstrasi kepiawaiannya dari berbagai segi. Bukan saja ini mengukuhkan keberadaan Ganes Th sebagai komikus, tetapi lebih lagi menegaskan kesahihan komik silat sebagai suatu genre: komik silat itu isinya bukan hanya “banjir darah”, melainkan drama menggetarkan atas perjuangan manusia untuk memanusiakan dirinya. Cerita komik ini jelas menyatakan hal tersebut: seorang tua, Made Ngura, telah menyeberang dari Bali ke Jawa untuk mencari sejumlah pendekar agar menyelamatkan Sanur, desa di pinggir pantai yang tertindas gerombolan perampok pimpinan I Gusti I Banda Puraray.

Made Ngura yang diutus kepala desanya itu akhirnya berhasil mengumpulkan Barda Mandrawata Si Buta dari Goa Hantu, Daeng Martundong, Datuk Sigura-gura dan Sabai, Patih Mandalawe Kebo Dungkul, Lagora Si Singa Laut, dan tentu saja Gito Si Bocah. Satu pengertian menjelaskan kemanusiaan yang dimaksud: para pendekar ini mengorbankan kepentingan pribadinya untuk menolong sesama manusia, bahkan juga jika hal itu menuntut pengorbanan nyawa. Di akhir cerita, memang hanya Barda dan Sabai yang masih hidup, menyaksikan betapa mahal harga yang harus dibayar untuk menegakkan kemanusiaan itu.

Alur memikat
Adapun cerita macam itu tersampaikan melalui suatu alur (plot), yang dalam perwujudannya sebagai komik, memperlihatkan keempuan Ganes Th.

Pertama, alur itu tersusun dengan sangat memikat. Bagi saya bukan hanya adegan “banjir darah” di Pantai Sanur itu sendiri yang membuktikan kepiawaiannya bercerita, melainkan proses ditemukannya para pendekar satu per satu yang mengesankan. Barda yang menolong bayi, Daeng Martundong yang dengan otaknya mengalahkan otot, konflik Datuk dan Patih Mandalawe, Si Bocah yang terus menguntit, dan adegan laga akrobatik dalam pertempuran di Selat Bali dalam benturan kapal Lagora dan bajak laut Burdu Si Naga, tempat munculnya Tri Wisa Sarpha.

Dengan kata lain, dalam komik silat, kita bisa menguji kepiawaian penggubah komik bukan dari adegan laganya, melainkan justru dari adegan-adegan bukan laga (nonaction), dan di sana Ganes membuktikan bahwa komik silat tak melulu bermodalkan teriak “Ciaaattt!” dan jerit kematian “Aaaaaa!”, melainkan juga berbagai momentum dramatik tanpa teriakan, seperti percakapan Si Buta dengan Sabai, yang sungguh beruntung kita dapatkan dari seorang Ganes.

Kedua, para tokohnya muncul dengan karakterisasi yang kuat. Ibarat sutradara, Ganes Th sangat pandai mengarahkan para aktornya. Sangat kuat penggambaran karakter Daeng Martundong, Datuk Sigura-gura, Gito Si Bocah, selain tentu Si Buta sendiri, tetapi juga tidak kurang dengan kepala desa I Nyoman Putu Oka yang berubah menjadi Leak Hitam. Daeng yang selalu sedih dan pendiam, Datuk yang periang, Si Bocah yang polos, boleh dibilang tergarap karakterisasinya secara luar biasa melalui penggambaran mereka yang ekspresif. Pernah dinyatakan Arswendo Atmowiloto, kekuatan gambar komik Ganes adalah coretannya yang ekspresif dan mampu menyiratkan suasana; bagi saya gambar ekspresi wajah coretan Ganes adalah juga luar biasa, kita bisa membaca karakter seseorang dari sana, karakter seperti diekspresikan seorang aktor berkelas.

Ketiga, apabila telah dinyatakan bahwa penggarapan alur Ganes sangat memikat, akan dibuktikan kembali dalam konteks Banjir Darah di Pantai Sanur, bahwa pernyataan itu antara lain mendasarkan diri kepada keberadaan sebuah alur bawahan (subplot) yang menghubungkan Datuk-Daeng-Gito-Sabai dalam suatu cerita tersendiri, yang menurut saya, jauh lebih dramatik dan dengan begitu memberi bobot penting kepada Banjir Darah di Pantai Sanur itu.

Tanpa alur bawahan yang satu tersebut, cerita ini akan terlalu banyak terisi “banjir darah” meski alur bawahan tersebut berhubungan dengan darah juga—tetapi adalah drama manusianya, yang melahirkan ironi begitu pahit (Sabai ternyata adik Gito, Daeng ternyata ayah Gito, Datuk ternyata penolong istri Daeng), membuat komik ini mempunyai posisi penting.

Korpus tujuh pendekar
Saya katakan penting, bukan hanya dalam konteks komik Indonesia, melainkan secara lebih luas dalam apa yang boleh kita sebut “korpus Tujuh Pendekar”. Telah disebutkan komik ini terbit pertama kali tahun 1968, artinya terbit setelah beredarnya film The Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954) maupun The Magnificent Seven (John Sturges, 1960). Semuanya mempunyai cerita yang sama, sejumlah jagoan diminta untuk melindungi desa dan membasmi perampok, pada akhir cerita perampok terbasmi, tinggal satu atau dua jagoan tersisa sehingga yang bisa disebut menang adalah para petani.

Sementara, The Magnificent Seven telah secara “resmi” dalam sejarah film dianggap sebagai adaptasi The Seven Samurai, saya tidak berani memastikan dari mana salah satu di antara keduanya bisa dihubungkan dengan Banjir Darah di Pantai Sanur. Mungkin saja dua-duanya.

Dari segi peredaran film tahun 1960-an setelah Orde Baru, lebih cenderung The Magnificent Seven yang beredar di Indonesia, tetapi berbagai adegan dan karakter dalam Banjir Darah di Pantai Sanur mendekati The Seven Samurai, adegan Si Buta menolong bayi dengan minuman sebagai umpan, misalnya, atau karakter Si Bocah dengan pedang besar yang dipanggul itu, mengingatkan kepada tokoh yang juga tak bernama dalam permainan aktor Toshiro Mifune. Namun, yang mana pun acuan Ganes, jelas telah berlangsung penafsiran kreatif yang membuktikan kelas Ganes, seperti juga berbagai film hebat Kurosawa yang mengadaptasi drama-drama Shakespeare.

Bukan saja bahwa semangat “Wawasan Nusantara” telah membuat Ganes berbeda dalam karakterisasi tujuh pendekarnya, tetapi alur bawahan Datuk-Daeng-Gito-Sabai itulah yang bagi saya membuat Banjir Darah di Pantai Sanur dalam formatnya sendiri tidak usah dianggap di bawah kelas film The Seven Samurai, yang meski legendaris tidak memiliki alur bawahan semacam itu. Dengan begitu Ganes telah memperkaya “korpus Tujuh Pendekar” dalam dunia manusia.

Bisa dikatakan, dalam perbandingan maupun dalam dirinya sendiri, Banjir Darah di Pantai Sanur adalah karya Ganes yang layak dipertaruhkan untuk memperbincangkan martabat komik silat Indonesia. Dua judul komik seri Si Buta dari Gua Hantu telah diterbitkan ulang. Apabila seri ketiga ini juga terbit kembali, semoga pembaca budiman masa kini bisa menikmati, seperti saya telah mendapatkan kebahagiaan dalam membacanya, pada tahun 1968 maupun 2006.

Source: Enter my World & Erwin Prima.



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