JAVANESE SILAT IN RETRO
JAVANESE SILAT IN RETRO

KSATRIA TOPENG EMAS (1): Kisah Para Legenda

Golden Mask Warrior (1): Legends Story

Story & Art: Toto Winarno

Publisher: Retro (Self-Published), 2015

 

 

This self-published comic is a retrospective in many ways. The drawing style, the narrative, the dialogues and the story are retrospective of a great time in Indonesian comics history.It is quite fresh to see old school lines in contemporary Indonesian comics. Toto, the artist and the writer of this comic, employed realistic style common in Silat Comics.

 

World popular culture industry began to notice Silat through badass action of IkoUwais and YayanRuhian in The Raid and The Raid 2–the movie so well received by martial arts action features audiences that even Donnie Yuen considered it as a worthy development in the genre. But The Raid are just showcase for only a fraction of Silatworld. It'sa traditional form of Indonesian martial arts that has been interpreted and modified nearly all over the Indonesian archipelago.

 

Some legendary Silat style such as Betawi (in Western tongue, Batavia) Silat, SumateranSilat, or Javanese Silat, all have their own variations. Javanese Silat for example is linked to the geo-cultural divide in Java Island. You see Eastern Java, Central Java and Western Java, and each has a very wide area on the map and throughout centuries has developed so many local styles of Silatthat could fit into a thick specialized encyclopedia of Indonesian Silat.

 

Some of the styles were already represented in Indonesian comics. A region in Western Java, Ciremai Mountain in Cirebon (a fascinating cultural melting pot of Islam, Hindu and Chinese in Javanese History) became the core background for JakaSembung universe. You can google it, JakaSembung was one of the most popular creation from DjairWarni in Silat genre, spawning a series of cult exploitation movies that are venerated by the likes of MondoMacabro crowd.

 

Man (or Mansyur Daman) and Ganes TH are two of the best Indonesian comics artists exploring SilatBetawi universe. And Javanese Silat also has its own genre treatment in comics.

 

The great TeguhSantosacreated many stories in Javanese Silat genre,much of them in the form of magazine comics strip. One of the most popular was MahesaRaniseriesthat waspublished in Hai Magazinein 1978-1981 (not fully in those years, but every year there was a story published for that popular magazine). He also created Javanese Silat stories for Javanese language magazines, such as Jaya Baya magazine. And some of his best graphic novels, such as Gitanjali,fell into that subgenre category, although Teguh seems focused more on the historical drama elements than the Silat elements.

 

The historical part is also an important element in this new comic by Toto. It was in the eve of war between Pajang and Jipangsultanate in late 16th century. Three young warriors converged as prepared by their parents in PadepokanKarangNingal to get further education from KiTuhuWaskita. They were Suratin, RadenSanjaya, and Swasti –the carefree grand daughter of KiTuhu.

 

Meanwhile, in not so distant village, a gang of thugs attacked and killed a rich and respected family of NdoroPadma. They took the daughter of that family, NiniSulastri, to be their sex slave. Obviously, they were loathsome villains. But a golden masked man equipped with blades that he handled very skillfully stopped them. All of the thugs but one, their leader who ran away with nothing, killed after dropping name of KiGagakCandolo. Ninisaved but the head of the villagein the morning found the blades used by the golden masked man and remembered an incident 25 years before. He was saved by the golden masked man, and searched who the man behind the mask ever since.

 

The head of the village took Nini to KiTuhu. At the same time, EyangGanda visited KiTuhu. They discussed the incident in NdoroPadma residence. Apparently KiGagakCandolo tied to a political tension between Pajang and Jipang.He was close to RadenWirya, an opportunist who manipulated his commoner's origin and posed as a fake royalty. KiTuhu and EyangGanda felt it was time they moved and strengthen a clandestine group of warriors that dedicated not to take political side but fought for truth and justice.

 

So they decided to begin the special path for the three young warriors to take the legendary mask as their symbol of fight for truth and justice. This comic is the first of a trilogy. It certainly felt like a set up for something bigger. It has the promise of a saga, or a complex plot. Javanese politics was full of twists and tragic characters.

 

Toto's drawing is suited quite well for the task. His strokes are light but confident. He drew all the drawings digitally but with pen and brush paradigm. He wasn't mastered the style yet. But again, how fresh it is for me to read a proper Bahasa Indonesia in a straight narrative that doesn't exploit obscure lingo and ironic posturing toward old popular culture products. How fresh it is to find images of horses in a new Indonesian comic.

 

One of senior curator that I know of once told me that drawing horses is a make or break thing for an artist. You could actually see if an artist is a master or not by looking the artist's drawing of horse. Toto is not quite there yet. But he is close. I have faith in him. I can see that he is rather passionate about this project. I ordered this comic directly from him through Facebook.

 

I was pleasantly surprised when I received the package from him: two comics, an original sketch art by pen, and in one book, his signed and wrote a personal massage and patched a panel of gambarumbul (a popular form of comics in Indonesia during 1980s, basically a poster that contained numbered small panels that each could be cut into independent small card) of his comics. Interesting gimmicks. Interesting project. I will wait for the next installment. ***

By Hikmat Darmawan

08 Februari 2016
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1470 Kali
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