The Jakarta Post
Out now: Koil: Fallen Gods follows Koil’s adventure after its first foray into comicdom with Koil: Dragonian Warriors. (Killer Comics/File)
Members of rock band Koil used to be underground veterans, having been one of the first acts to release an album independently in the early 1990s, but they have since grown to be major rock stars, with legions of fans filling up their many festival appearances.
Koil’s foursome of vocalist JA “Otong” Verdijantoro; his brother and guitarist Donitoro; bass player Adam Vladvamp; and drummer/restaurant-entrepreneur Leon Ray Legoh have become something of legends — characters who reflect the rock ‘n roll fantasies of their many fans.
As such it only makes sense that there are comics about them.
Though the Bandung, West Java, band has yet to reach the KISS status of being essentially merchandise-ready cartoon characters, the success of these comics suggest it may eventually achieve such a stature.
For a band that hasn’t released a record since 2007 yet has managed to stay relevant, this could be a good gateway to expanding its particular brand of theatrical semi-industrial rock (think the theatricality of Marilyn Manson meets the dramatic delivery of European metal acts sprinkled with a good dose of cheeky Indonesian humor courtesy of Otong).
Koil: Fallen Gods follows the band’s adventure after its first foray into comicdom with Koil: Dragonian Warriors, which was released a year ago.
As before, the comic finds the band members existing in a fantastical post-apocalyptic universe where evil lords and gigantic monsters exists. This is an existence where humans survive only in tiny colonies in order to avoid being killed by more terrifying beings.
In this universe, the members of Koil are in the vanguard of protecting humanity, operating as a hero collective known as Prajurit Naga (Dragon Warriors).
Drummer Leon is the beast master, best communicating with creatures; Adam is the technology king; Doni is good with weapons; and Otong is the leader.
It’s all lighthearted but without any winking tongue-in-cheek quality. The comic is an earnest presentation of its creators’ love for Koil and the culture the band has created around itself.
Otong owns the popular hobbyist-collector store Omuniuum and is a major comic fanboy himself, and robots and monsters has long been a part of the band’s imagery, adorning its merchandise and artwork.
The comic is published by Killer Komik (a reference to the band’s fan club Koil Killer Klub), which was initiated by illustrator Patra Aditia, writer Anky, and project manager Nabun. It began as fan art the three did for fun.
“We then had the chance to show it to the band, and they loved it and asked us why we didn’t just publish it in a more official manner,” explains Nabun.
The plan was for it to be a web comic, but with some additional funding from the band, the comic, officially launched at Popcon Asia recently and available online, was ready for actual print.
The fandom is in the heart of the project.
“We became fans of Koil with the second album Megaloblast . That album was so cool. Starting from there, we began going to shows and buying the merchandise, and just became obsessed with the band,” explains Patra.
For the writers, it wasn’t hard to turn the band members into comic characters. Their image was ready and larger-than-live.
“Watching Koil play a gig is like watching a comic book come to life. The combination of maximum rock music and their black wardrobe led to me easily picturing them in comic book form — starting from the post-apocalyptic world they would exist in, the robots, and the monsters. I knew that their universe would be an interesting one to build,” Patra says.
Band leader Otong, whose sardonic wit and feigned (we assume) on-stage arrogance explodes with humor, has become something of an underground icon whose social media presence has resulted its own slang and terminology.
“Otong is too comical not to be immortalized in some sort of visual medium,” says Nabun, explaining that it only made sense to incorporate some of the band members’ personal lives into the comic, including Leon’s skills as a real-life cook. Even some of Otong’s tweets get turned into parts of the dialogue.
The story was conceived as a collaboration between the creators’ and Otong. The band members also asked to have some of their real-life belongings included in the comic, such as their motorcycles.
The comic’s creators have big plans ahead.
“After three comics we hope to expand it into maybe toys and figurines,” Nabun says. “But right now, we’re focusing hard on comic number three. We’re on fire.”
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