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Indonesia Comic Con thrills Jakarta's pop culture fans

Dylan Amirio
Dylan Amirio

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Tue, October 30, 2018 | 10:13 am
Indonesia Comic Con thrills Jakarta's pop culture fans

Imperial march: Festivalgoers come dressed as Star Wars characters, including Kylo Ren (left), Chancellor Palpatine (center) and Orson Krennic (right). (JP/Umair Rizaludin)

The colorful Indonesia Comic Con returned to Jakarta over the weekend, offering the city’s pop culture enthusiasts yet another place where they could truly express themselves and bask in their nerdy interests outside of their bedrooms.

Held at the Jakarta Convention Center on Saturday and Sunday, the venue was full to bursting with visitors and exhibitors, who all shared a love for comic books, films, anime, games and overall pop creativity.

The added spice to these conventions is usually the overseas guests, with the main draw this year being Kristian Nairn of the highly popular HBO television series Game of Thrones.

Nairn was a particular highlight as he plays one of the show’s most popular and loveable characters, the gentle giant Hodor. His character in the series was expertly and emotionally expressed despite the relative handicap of his only being able to say his name. During the multiple sharing sessions on the Comic Con main stage, Nairn talked about his time on Game of Thrones and the story behind his casting as well as sharing his ongoing love for his profession as a DJ.

“In the audition tape for Game of Thrones, they just wanted me to say ‘Hodor’ a couple of times in different, funny ways and I was like, OK. My mum was particularly stoked when she heard I was cast as Hodor because she read the books as well,” he explained.

Nairn is used to having people wanting him to say his line and while looking bemused, he would politely oblige.

He said he did not actually use the word outside of the show. “I don’t just randomly say ‘Hodor’,” he laughed. “My life is so strange, yeah,” he jokingly added.

He was joined by two other foreign guest stars, namely Amanda Righetti who has played roles in Captain America: The First Avenger, The OC and crime drama The Mentalist, as well as Adrian Pasdar who is best known for his role as Glenn Talbot in the Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D series and as morally ambiguous senator Nathan Petrelli in Heroes.

Comic Con’s atmosphere was incredibly lively, thanks to visitors who took on the convention’s full spirit of pop culture. The most impressive sights came from the numerous cosplayers roaming the event, with many taking incredibly detailed care to pull off their intended looks.

Spider-men were abundant — whether dressed in the classic Peter Parker-era costumes or in modified versions, especially those one worn by character Miles Morales.

Deadpools, Gamoras and Captain Americas were also in plentiful supply, but the majority of cosplaying visitors and exhibitors chose to dress as their favorite anime characters: from Umaru Doma from Himouto Umaru-Chan! to Kesshoban “Platelet” from the manga Cells at Work! and Ichigo Kurasaki from Bleach to name a few.

Cosplaying seems to be the major draw for many visitors as the art of cosplaying itself has long been appreciated at not only Comic Con but the numerous pop culture conventions in Jakarta. This was evident also by the invitation of several overseas cosplay legends such as Leon Chiro, King TW and Chihiro Chang.

The event also works as a space for fellow creatives to exchange ideas and inspirations with one another, with comic-drawing booths by guest illustrators set up to be as interactive as possible for visitors.

Take your pick: A visitor browses comic books at Indonesia Comic Con in Jakarta.Take your pick: A visitor browses comic books at Indonesia Comic Con in Jakarta. (JP/Umair Rizaludin)

Several visitors to these booths brought their own illustrations for the guest illustrators to comment on and encourage. This year, an amalgam of comic book illustrators were at the tables, including some Indonesians who are currently drawing for comic series overseas such as Ario Anindito, Iwan Nazif, Jasmine Hanny Sukartty, Arif Prianto and Yasmine Putri.

This year’s Comic Con also featured the announcements of two prominent and highly anticipated films based on classic 1960s Indonesian comic book series, helmed by two of Indonesia’s most celebrated film directors.  

Director Timo Tjahjanto revealed details of his upcoming film Si Buta Dari Gua Hantu (The Blind Man from The Haunted Cave). Based on the comics by Ganes TH, the new Timo-helmed film will direct its focus mainly on the origin stories of the main protagonist, the silat warrior Si Buta and his nemesis, the wise but cruel Mata Malaikat.

The director admitted that while he was not very familiar with the original comic book series, he was drawn to making the film because he felt that the characters had very strong personalities, that were shaped by the situation and environments that they lived in.

 “What’s interesting about the series is that Si Buta is set during the hardest days of the colonial era. It was colonialism at its peak and Indonesia was far from gaining its freedom. The side that is shown in this story is the struggle of Indonesians in a ‘survival of the fittest’ atmosphere, which is explicitly very true,” Timo said.

 Details surrounding the cast or release date were not revealed, as it seems the film is still in its conceptual phase. This will be Timo’s next film after striking success with the bloody The Night Comes for Us.

Read also: 'The Night Comes for Us': Innovating the art of violence

Meanwhile on Sunday, Joko Anwar’s highly anticipated superhero film Gundala had its first teaser trailer revealed at the event, as well as the publication of his film’s primary cast members — Muzakki Ramdhan, Tara Basro, Bront Palarae and Abimana Aryasatya.

The cast had been kept under wraps by Joko since he announced the film earlier in the year, with many actors, including action star Iko Uwais, rumored to play the title character before Joko revealed on Sunday that Abimana would in fact play Gundala.

Based on the comic book series by Harya Suryaminata, the film will reboot the superhero according to current relevancies and sensibilities in order to give the series new life. Joko said the film would follow a new story. It will be released sometime in mid-2019, as the film is in the process of being shot. 

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