The Jakarta Post
It started from a sudden phone-in quiz that was first received by his father Babeh Mamat, Si Juki has now managed to land his feet in Spain, visiting the headquarters of Spanish soccer clubs Real Betis and Real Sociedad and tasting local food bocadillo de calamares (squid sandwich).
The adventure of beloved Indonesian comic character Si Juki in Spain is portrayed in the new comic book “Si Juki Jelajah Spanyol bersama LaLiga” (Si Juki exploring Spain with La Liga), which has been available for sale in bookstores across Indonesia since last month. Fans can also buy the digital version of the comic on Google Play.
The new comic is a collaboration between Spanish soccer league La Liga and Si Juki’s creator as part of La Liga’s efforts to engage with soccer fans in Indonesia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The league is now setting its eyes on its international fans, including those in Indonesia, following its success in organizing numerous virtual events in Spain during the outbreak, including the online music concert La Liga Santander Fest, which raised more than 1 million euro (US$1.09 million) for alleviating the impact of the pandemic.
La Liga said the collaboration with Si Juki was a good tool to interact with fans in Indonesia, which is widely considered a mouthwatering market for world leagues, particularly since La Liga has been postponed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“Si Juki was selected because it is famous, creates exciting content and has a similar passion as us. Through the comics, readers can understand more about La Liga, its teams, culture and gastronomy,” La Liga global network’s representative to Indonesia, Rodrigo Gallego, said recently.
La Liga is now also considering translating the comic book into English to net a wider readership.
“We are thinking to have half the comic version in English and [also] probably in Spanish," Gallego said. “It is always important to keep innovating. It's interesting to create this project as it gives us a different perspective. We will keep trying to innovate through new outlets."
Starting as a comic strip on Facebook some nine years ago, Si Juki has appeared in comic books, merchandise, toys, a YouTube animation series, a mobile game app and an animated film.
The comic's author Faza Ibnu, famously known as Faza Meonk, said he did not find any difficulties in creating the new comic book. In 2018, Faza flew to Spain for two weeks to carry out research for Si Juki’s adventure in the land of the matadors.
“I put a new character called Hugo in the comic who helped Juki while he was in Spain,” he said. “In the comic, I also included statues resembling those found in Spain.”
During his research trip, Faza said he was quite impressed with soccer culture in Spain, as good soccer facilities could easily be found across the country.
He also recalled his experience of seeing the Spaniards’ love of soccer, including when soccer matches were about to start, many families flocked to the stadiums.
The collaboration between La Liga and Si Juki is also a part of La Liga’s efforts to encourage soccer fans to stay at home and practice social distancing during the pandemic to slow the spread of the virus.
As of Monday, the number of COVID-19 infections in Spain had reached 169,496, with 17,489 deaths according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. Indonesia, meanwhile, had recorded 4,557 confirmed cases with 399 deaths as of Monday.
Rodrigo said his organization was adamant about its social commitment in Indonesia through ongoing and past cooperation, such as a project with nonprofit group BOLA to raise awareness about the values of soccer and promote equality for marginalized children in Indonesia.
BOLA is a collaboration between Sahabat Anak, a nonprofit organization focusing on marginalized children, and the Kampus Diakoneia Modern (KDM) foundation.
With the league postponed as a result of the pandemic, La Liga’s managing director for Southeast Asia, Japan, South Korea and Australia Ivan Codina said the league was working closely with the broadcasters, knowing the distribution of the television rights was their main business.