Holding a brush in their hand, comic artists lock eyes on three huge white canvases hung up on the wall and brush colors onto sketched characters.
Some climb chairs to reach the upper parts of the canvas while others step back to look at their work from a distance. Their brushes dance on the canvas while spectators enjoy the process, watching them work from behind.
Among all the characters, the most recognizable is Si Buta dari Goa Hantu (The Blind from the Ghost Cave), a comic character created by the late comic artist Ganes TH that was first published in 1967 before its successful movie adaption.
A girl learns how to sketch comic strips during a workshop.
This hive of activity is a glimpse of the Comiconnexions Festival 2012 in Goethe Haus in Menteng, Central Jakarta. Organized by the Goethe Institut, Institute Francais Indonesia and Akademi Samali, the event was an intimate celebration for comic lovers, especially those with an interest in the development of the style in Indonesia, Singapore and Germany.
Besides watching the live wall painting, visitors were also able to attend other comic related events, including an exhibition, a bazaar, discussions, workshops, the launch of the latest publications as well as a screening of the vintage film Gundala Putera Petir (Gundala, the Son of Thunder), a comic story adaption.
The exhibition offers enthusiasts the opportunity to see work by German comic artists to experience their drawing style and storytelling.
The works of foreign comic artists are also on display in the festival.
Recently, two German comic artists, Sascha Hommer and Mawil, gave a workshop on contemporary comic storytelling to professional comic artists at the Indonesia Arts Institute (ISI) in Yogyakarta. The two artists also gave a presentation on the development of comics in Hamburg and Berlin in Goethe Haus on Sept. 8 as part of the Comiconnexions Festival 2012.
Hommer believes comic festivals can give young artists exposure as the events give them the opportunity to meet publishers. “When I was a student, I created my own photocopied comics and took them with me to festivals. Sometimes the publishers took them,” he told The Jakarta Post.
It took three years until a Berlin-based publisher approached Hommer to publish a comic book. To date, he has penned five creations in the comic book and graphic novel genres. Comic festivals have the power to inspire. Azisa Noor, a freelance architect, said she began to take comics seriously after attending a comic festival in Indonesia that showed the rising spirit of young comic artists.
“To see so many people, who create comics in their daily lives and seeing them enjoying their job so much, encouraged my own intention to do the same. I will make comics for the rest of my life,” she said to the festival blog, goethe.de.
The festival will end on Sept. 23 in Jakarta. It is also on display in Yogyakarta until Sept. 22.
A comic panel by Vbi Djenggotten with his signature, the curly-haired character.
A visitor observes characters of Garudayana by Is Yuniarto.
Visitors can buy T-shirts printed with their self illustration.
— Photos by Ricky Yudhistira