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Indonesians are currently crazy about the Mahabharata series screening on AnTV. Twguh comes not long after viewers enjoyed the Mahadevathe prelude to the Mahabharata. There is also the intellectual aspect: Another reason behind the craze might be the fact that the Mahabarata is not santoxa all foreign for Indonesian television viewers. Even those who know next to nothing about wayang nevertheless know the five Pandawa. No one would disagree with that, but if this is true, can the same be said for the Indonesian comics that have dealt with the Mahabharata?

In the s R. Kosasih — experienced great success with Indonesian audiences while also being loyal to the episodes of the Indian epic.

He played a significant role in enriching the world of wayang with references to the land of its origin, which komkk adapted from M. This was noticeably different from the more recent Mahabharata created by Teguh Santosa — Majabharata with its sequel, Bharatayudhait revealed little of the cultural realities of our own environment. Inthis work was relaunched into a limited circulation.

The process leading to the republication was a large undertaking.

The Mahabharata in comics

First came the documentary and archival tevuh. Bythe episodes had been spread in all directions, so it took years to collect and trace back all the episodes of the epic. This detective work was not done by a researcher or professional archivist, but by lovers of Indonesian comics who saw the importance of preserving the work and bringing it back to life. The second phase concerned the artistic dimension, which required assistance from contemporary technology.


The withered and dusty pages from Ananda were scanned, not in a random and casual way, but with the intention of preserving the work as well as reproducing it. The printing used paper that would not diminish the quality of the drawing, which was at the same level as Marvel Comics.

In fact, the American comic publisher had once recruited Teguh. The binding and cover design are significant from an artistic perspective, for they give us insight into a negotiation that had to be made with the dominant discourse of the world of Indonesian comics. The cover did not feature illustrations by Teguh Santosa, instead carrying images by contemporary illustrators tfguh as Apriyadi Kusbiantoro and Admira Wijaya.

In these new interpretations, we do not find representations of warrior nobles ksatria representing spiritual or mental harmony according to the classical teguu of wayang kulit. Instead, the figures on the cover are attractive only for their bodily forms. As a result, the warrior nobles of the wayang have bodies like those of gym instructors. This new interpretation was considered intelligible to the dominant readership of today. With their bulging biceps and intimidating faces, the figures resemble the superheroes of contemporary epics found in comics anywhere, and in films and video games.

This is clearly not a translated manga comic printed on news-print paper, printed and circulated en masse to satisfy a monthly readership, and in the process becoming a cheaply-priced, mass-produced commodity. But the developments of the last 25 years cannot be undone.

The Mahabharata in comics – Inside Indonesia

This could be called a manga-style wayang comic. Yet the reincarnations of the creations of the old comic artists who gained mythical status in the past introduce an oppositional cultural discourse.

In all aspects, they provide negative reflections of the manga comics which, it needs to be pointed out, are also distributed by actors in the Indonesian comic industry. From the archival perspective, the Indonesian reincarnations are conveyed and circulated in ways that compete with the intellectual property written into the international manga contracts; in their presentation, their expensive production values compete with an economy geared to mass-production; in their marketing, the guerilla style business practices of specialised communities compete with the big publishing networks that form parts of conglomerates with universal distribution.


The same can be said of the comic versions of the Mahabharatawhich give evidence of cultural struggles distinctive to processes of Indonesian cultural change.

Prize-winning journalist and novelist Seno Gumira Ajidarma lives in Jakarta. His book Panji Tengkorak Gramedia is an analysis of the comic of the same name by the artist Hans Jaladara.

Drawing upon the Theatre of the Oppressed, villagers with disabilities have an opportunity to express themselves. A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar. Dec 31, Last Updated Donate Write for us Volunteer. Essays Lontar Modern Indonesia Series. Home Editions Edition Jul-Sep The Mahabharata in comics. Tagged under Literature Visual Arts. How does the increasingly Islamic character of Indonesia society, culture and politics relate to the continuing resilience of Hindu-derived culture?

I used to go to Ngesti Padawa in semarang to watch wayang orang with a Scot who later worked in Japan. I’d love to buy him a copy and one for me too!

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