I was most intrigued to find a bookmark today issued by Go IkuZo which is a newish course in Jakarta offering 'A Perfect Place to Learn Manga and Japanese" for "Kids".
Intrigued but not surprised because Indonesian teenagers, who will include Our Kid come Friday, are seemingly obsessed with Japanese comic series, known as Anime, which are shown on several TV channels here, both terrestial and satellite. Manga are the book versions. I also discovered last year that teenagers are more interested in discussing the different characters than in admiring Mother Nature.
Having thought it strange yet logical that comic culture was considered to be a suitable entrée into language learning I settled down to read some of my backlog of Guardian Weeklys, delayed by the Idul Fitri holiday when the country reverts to pre-consumerist bliss for a week.
And the first article I settled on was entitled 'Yarooh!', he ejaculated by David McKie. His article points out that comic-strip writers invented a wealth of linguistic terms to bring their art form to life.
These are largely onomatopoeic terminologies, such as "splat!", "zap!" and "wham!", along with my favourite: "kerpow!". This prefix ker- was a clever device to evoke that spilt second before fist lands on jaw, or whatever. There's "kerbam!" (a sudden noise or sharp shock) and "kerbang!" (a sudden sharp noise or explosion) to "kerwhop!" (a solid body falling on to a solid surface) and "kerwoosh!" (indicating speedy movement).
Some of these definitions (fr. the Cassell Dictionary of Slang) are surprisingly precise. "Kerslosh!", for instance, indicates movement through a wet or soft substance, "or the falling of a solid object into such substance, eg. viscous mud"; while "kersplat!" indicates a fall on to a soft surface, "especially with concomitant mess, eg. a stuntman's dive into a stall of soft fruit and vegetables".
What of Indonesian comic language, I wondered, so I investigated Our Kid's collection of comic books, which are, perhaps strangely, local translations of Japanese efforts, such as Hayate, the Combat Butler (eh?). Reading them back-to-front isn't that easy, but, as in all comics, 'noise' words are drawn large. I'll leave it up to you to put action pictures to the following sound words: DRUK, ZREK, NGUUNG, GLEK, DEG, PRANG PRANG PRANG, BAK BUK BAK BUK, DUAAAAK, KAPOOONG, BLAAAR and WOOOSH. You may recognise that last one.
As I couldn't see a WHAM, you'll have to make do with this one.
As for locally produced comics, my researches have turned up a piece of research by Laine Berman in which she says that the comic industry remains marginal and plagued by self-doubt yet, thankfully, is evidence of an outspoken, reflective younger generation. Comics in contemporary Indonesia reveal young people’s confusion and bitterness over the hypocrisy, corruption and abuses carried out in the name of ‘reformasi’, ‘development’ or ‘democracy’.
A new venture has been initiated by the Kompas Gramedia Group to bring the comic culture into the mainstream. They invited ten comic-book creators, two of whom dropped out, to draw and write a graphic novel, which it would publish under its new brand: Koloni.
Gramedia set a three-month deadline for each and tryingto instill a “Japanese comics work ethic”, required them to produce between 40 and 60 pages a month. And now the first batch of Koloni comics consisting of eight black-and-white titles in genres including action, mystery and romanceare available in Gramedia bookstores