Bog Bog: Denpasar, Bali

Yesterday I mentioned a magazine or should I say comic called Bog Bog which you can buy in Bali and it is really an entertaining read.

.I don’t read comics except when I was a kid but, Bog Bog I enjoy and its a colourful and expressionistic look at the life in Bali and especially Kuta. A while ago I remembered that Rita A. Widiadana wrote an article about this crazy magazine/comic and I managed to find it.

What I like about Bog Bog is that it lampoons the characters in Bali and that includes the tourists and all this is done in a creative and hilarious manner.

Bog Bog Arcade strives to ward off stress
Rita A. Widiadana, Denpasar

While the tourist industry in Bali is suffering from the drastic drop in tourist arrivals a newly opened establishment is offering an escapist experience for those with a good sense of humour.

"Laughing is the best medicine. It is scientifically proven to have powerful energy to ward off one's stress" exclaimed Jango Paramartha owner and initiator of the Bog Bog Arcade.

"Almost everybody here in Bali feels sad and depressed. There is nothing to laugh at given the current situation here. But we have to be optimistic and I am very positive about opening this Arcade" said Jango one of the most innovative and creative cartoonists on the island of Bali.

Located on Jl. Veteran in downtown Denpasar the Bog Bog Arcade is a place where young and talented artists work together to produce highly artistic items ranging from t-shirts, books and paintings to accessories and other merchandise using Bog Bog, a cartoon character from the Bali-based English cartoon magazine, Bog Bog.

"We are not only selling merchandise but more importantly through cartoons we are expressing our ideas about people, about the present social, economic and political conditions in Bali and in Indonesia" Jango explained.

The idea popped up almost five years ago when Jango and his fellow artists like Cece Riberu, Putu Ebo and Ida Bagus Surya Dharma established a cartoon magazine called Bog Bog, which literally translates as lying or deceitful in common Balinese language.




"The publication of Bog Bog magazine was a clear expression of our dissatisfaction with the so-called reform era. All promises and speeches by government officials and public figures turned out to be false and insincere. Everybody was telling a lie" he added.

Bog Bog was a form of "sophisticated and intellectual" protest against the deceptive world of the reform era. He remembered it was a "crazy idea" to launch an all-cartoon magazine. "I just did not know and did not even think of whether it would have a market as not everyone liked cartoons" he recalled.

The cartoons he said were usually placed as supplementary illustrations to accompany an editorial piece in a newspaper or a magazine. "Only a few people here in Bali and most cities in Indonesia appreciate cartoons. They used to just call us comic-book makers" he said.

However in Western countries cartoons were highly appreciated. The works of top cartoonists which appear in the prestigious The New Yorker for instance is regarded as serious art, he stated.

"We are still in our infancy here" he said while adding that the development of cartoons and animation in Bali has shown tremendous progress with the emergence of so many young and skilful artists.

Born on Dec. 21, 1965 Made Gede Perama Artha prefers to use his "pen name" Jango Paramartha. "My friends scared me and pushed me to use a pen name because being a cartoonist was quite a dangerous profession (he started during Suharto's new order Period)" he remembered.

He dedicated his name Jango to his favorite cowboy hero Jango who was famous in the early 1970s. The names Jango and Bog Bog become his trademarks.

The new order regime had a host of laws that had to be abided by for the media including cartoonists and caricaturists. Using the name Jango was safe for me he said.

A cartoonist should be open-minded and sensitive he said. "There are some communal and universal values that should be respected by anyone in the artistic world" he said. For him freedom of artistic expression is to portray certain events or certain issues in a responsible, smart and balanced way. "Issues concerning religion, ethnicity and races are very sensitive things that must be carefully and wisely expressed in order not to hurt any party involved" he added.

Starting his career at an early age Jango admitted he was inspired by cartoonist Si Jon whose works published in Gadis teen magazine enchanted him. "I knew that I could draw" said Jango a graduate of University of Udayana’s fine arts department. He later went to Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.
He started creating illustrations for poems, short stories and books including those written by world-class

authors Adrian Vickers, Being Modern in Bali and Linda Connors, Staying Local in the Global Village.
He also worked as cartoonist for local newspaper Bali Post while producing merchandise which he sold from a shop on Jl. Legian in Kuta. "I was not so confident at that time and decided to step away from the business" he said.

After introducing Bog Bog magazine and its famous cartoon character he hoped the market would accept the arcade. "Readers and subscribers are already familiar with the Bog Bog character so it is now the best time for me to open the arcade" said Jango who was recently elected chairman of the Indonesian Cartoonists Association.

"I was so surprised to be elected chairman because I am still learning a lot from veterans like the famous Dwi Koendoro, G.M Sudarta, Pramono R. Pramoedjo and many others" he said.

His dream for Bog Bog Arcade is to expand it into a one-stop cartoon world - an editorial office for Bog Bog magazine, animation and graphic design studio, training center and a gathering place for local and international cartoonists.