My Jakarta: Kristedy Rinto, Comic Book Scriptwriter
Elizabeth Rosali Rompis
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes you need a little more than that to get the message across.
That’s where Kristedy Rinto comes in. The 23-year-old college student is the founder of and scriptwriter for Sparrow Studios comics, putting the ‘Zip!’ ‘Whack!’ and ‘Splat!’ into strips published by Indonesia’s biggest comic powerhouse, M&C! Koloni.
When he’s not writing comic strips, Kristedy is busy burning the midnight oil as a final-year management student at President University and dreaming up stories for his blog.
Kristedy caught up with My Jakarta to talk about his comic-strip adventures.
When did you decide to try writing your own comics?
I started out writing children’s stories for a local church publication. I wrote short stories and novels as a hobby, and had almost zero knowledge about comics. The change came when a high school friend asked me to write her a story for a comic competition. My very first comic story idea was: ‘What if the passing grade for the national exams was changed to 99.9, so that only those with perfect grades would be able to pass?’ The comic won the competition; I can still hardly believe it to this day.
So when did you decide to try doing it professionally?
At the time, I realized that comics were the best-sellers in any bookstore in Jakarta, and that most Indonesian youngsters still preferred foreign comics, from Japan or the United States. I thought, ‘Why not create a local comic that can compete with foreign comics?’ And, bang! The idea was born to establish my own comic studio. I hope that one day Sparrow Studios can stand out as the best-known comic studio in Indonesia.
How did the team come together?
Sparrow Studios exists thanks to two key people. The first is Ade Nugraha, a friend from high school who is a very talented illustrator. We figured out that we had the same vision — to make comics — and that’s when we founded our studio. We have been fighting back-to-back in the creative industry ever since. The second person is Septia Indah Rosiana. She was a finishing assistant for ‘August December,’ our very first publication that came out for Valentine’s Day last year.
It was hard work getting our first comic out. As soon as the contract was signed, we realized how much work we had ahead of us, and ended up having many sleepless nights. In the last months before our deadline, Indah was in a car accident, leaving our project at a standstill for a week. But it all came together in the end.
What was the first comic about?
‘August December’ is a story is about a clumsy little cupid called Cahaya, whose first job is to unite Daniel August and Natalie December, a predestined couple. But Cahaya encounters a few problems along the way — he loses his bow due to a past mistake, his plans keep coming unraveled, and as if that isn’t hard enough, he also has to compete against Lust, a meddling devil with a cunning plan to break Daniel and Natalie apart.
What kind of stories do Indonesian audiences want to read?
In my opinion, Indonesian readers are currently interested in comedies, inspirational stories and educational stories, too. The market for local comics is also growing. Indonesian comics are emerging from a previous dormant era, when publishers closed their doors to local comics. The new era is marked by publishers re-opening the doors to satisfy a growing demand for locally made comics.
What positive contributions can be made by local comics?
The first would be to deliver a positive message in an entertaining way, just as our parents used to do when we were kids, by teaching us morals through fairytales. Comics can be a powerful tool for delivering messages to youngsters in a fresh and fun way.
For example, rather than putting up a huge poster about the dangers of smoking, why not make a comic about a kid who lost everything he had because of smoking? That way, we can deliver the message in a more vivid way.
How do you balance your time between doing all this and studying at the same time?
Well, I have a schedule and reminder on every form of media I can find, from my watch to my laptop, PC, mobile phone and so on. I try to spend my time wisely because in this industry, every second counts. The thing I sacrifice the most is probably my sleeping time! [laughs]
What’s next for Sparrow Studios?
Right now we are working on digital comics for platforms like wayangforce and makko.co. As for me, when Sparrow is firmly settled up there in its nest, I want to experience another adventure. I’ve been thinking about going into animation, or computer games. But we’ll see.
Kristedy Rinto was talking to Elizabeth Rosali Rompis.