Comic artists Iwan Nazif and Ardian Syaf after a live drawing session in Jakarta on Wednesday (23/01). (Photo by Dhania Sarahtika)

It's a Bird... It's a Superhero... It's Ajisatria!


JANUARY 31, 2019

Jakarta. Comic book publisher Bumilangit, home to over 1,000 Indonesian superhero characters, is now evolving into a multiplatform creative company, turning their comics into films and other formats.  

Bumilangit announced the projects they have for the near future at a press conference in Pondok Indah, South Jakarta, last Wednesday (23/01).

Among them are 30 new comic titles to be published this year. According to Bumilangit manager Is Yuniarto, the publisher has two categories for comic books: Bumilangit Pusaka for reprints of original comics, and Bumilangit Revolusi for new titles. 

One of them is a sequel to the two "Si Buta dari Gua Hantu: Mata Malaikat" ("Blind Warrior From the Cave of Ghosts: Angel Eye") books released in 2017, "Si Buta dari Gua Hantu: Sapu Jagad" ("Blind Warrior From the Cave of Ghosts: Broom of the World"), written in collaboration by comic artists Oya Sujiwo, Iwan Nazif and Doni Cahyono.

"This is part of our 'Revolusi' stories, so all of them are new stories, but the characters and their fighting styles are still the same [as in Ganes TH's 1960s originals]. The drawing styles are different [from the originals] and there are details added because new comic book fans tend to be more critical," Is said. 

"Gundala" will also have its original stories reprinted and a new series set in the present written by contemporary artists. 

Some comic titles are also being turned into novels and children's storybooks. Indonesia’s first comic-book superhero Sri Asih, originally created by the legendary wayang comic artist RA Kosasih, will have her own line of graphic novels. 

Bumilangit's Cinematic Universe 

Gundala will kickstart the "Jagat Sinema Bumilangit" (Bumilangit Cinematic Universe). Just like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe we are more familiar with, BCU will bring our favorite local superheroes to the screens. 

Bumilangit Studios – the film production arm of – has signed a five-year partnership with Screenplay Pictures. Two films are already in development, Joko Anwar’s Gundala and Timo Tjahjanto's Si Buta Dari Gua Hantu. 

Gundala will star Abimana Aryasatya as the titular thunder-wielding superhero, along with Tara Basro, Bront Palarae and Muzakki Ramdan. It is now in post-production and will be released later this year.

A tie-in comic book titled "Gundala the Movie," created by Ardian Syaf, will also be released.

Meanwhile, the script for Si Buta Dari Gua Hantu the movie is still being written. The film is on schedule for a 2020 release. 

"C.B. Cebulski [Marvel's editor-in-chief] said when he visited Jakarta that film has that special ability to reach so many people at the same time. We’re also going to use film to introduce Bumilangit's characters to a wider audience," Bumilangit Studios production manager Imansyah Lubis said. 

Approval From Original Creators 

In the 1960s and '70s, Indonesian comic artists were profitable hitmakers. Bumilangit was established in 2003 with an aim of reviving Indonesia's superhero comic book scene and make Indonesian readers proud of their homegrown superheroes. 

As part of that effort, Bumilangit created not one, but two special terms for their superheroes: "Ajisatria" for superheroes whose stories are set in modern times and "Pendekar" superheroes with origin stories rooted in local cultures or in the past.

Gundala and Godam are examples of Ajisatria, while Si Buta and Mandala are Pendekar. 

"We started securing the IPs [intellectual property] for our Ajisatria and Pendekar characters in 2007. The big turning point was in 2014, when we started creating our own universe," Is said. 

He also said the original creators of many of their reprinted titles have been very supportive of Bumilangit's plan to create an Indonesian superhero universe.

As an example, Is mentioned Hasmi, the late Gundala creator who passed away in 2016. Hasmi was involved in creating the initial concept for the movie and gave his approval for changes in Gundala's character. 

"We’re happy that Hasmi was very supportive of us. He understood what comic fans of our generation want. He didn't just want to see Gundala's past glory transformed to the screen, he also wanted to see a Gundala of the future," Is said.