Comic books artist and storyteller Sheila Rooswitha Putri discusses her work, in the third of six Q&As with Indonesian authors visiting the London Book Fair as part of the Market Focus programme
Sheila Rooswitha Putri was born and raised in Jakarta. The Story of Lala, Sheila's debut comic title in 2008, is a collection of stories about her daily struggle with mongrel dogs, a family trip, and an unlucky thief. She creates heart-warming stories about her life with her curious boy and active little girl on her blog, Sheila's Playground. As most of Sheila's stories are based on personal experience, Jakarta is a major inspiration for her. Her love of Jakarta has given birth to many urban sketches and several comic collaborations with other artists which brought her to participate in various conventions and group exhibitions, both domestically and internationally. Sheila also creates illustrations that interpret classic Indonesian folktales.
What comics or books were influential to you?
I've loved comics since I was a child, from Western comics such as Asterix and Tintin to Indonesian comics. The crisp dynamic lines and Hergé's meticulous observation made me want to pursue my passion to become a comic artist, but my particular favorite was Mahabharata by our comic legend, the late RA Kosasih, widely regarded as the father of Indonesian comics. It was a story about the epic Mahabharata, adapted from the Hindu mythology.
Why did you start drawing comics?
I was never a high achiever at school, but I did go to Trisakti University, a visual communications and design school, where I was asked to make a five-issue educational comic about banking - far removed from my usual inspiration for drawing! I later worked for production companies as a storyboard artist, which allowed me to develop my skills.
Many graphic novelists now use social media as a tool to help them reach new audiences. What do you think about digital comics?
Digital comics give a new experience in comic reading. In conventional comic publishing, creators have to wait until the book is finished to get responses. That can take years. With social media, creators can easily share their work and get immediate responses, because readers can interact directly with the authors. Social media allows for flexibility, collaboration and the chance to trial new things to your fans. On Twitter I have collaborated with Muhammad "Mice" Misrad on a series about life in Jakarta for @infoJakarta, and on Facebook my comics are a form of diary chronicling my life with my family.
Sheila Rooswitha Putri has been chosen as one of 12 authors to take part in the Indonesia Market Focus programme at the London Book Fair 2019, and will speak on a panel entitled "The City and the Sea" at the Cross Cultural Hub at 1pm on 14 March. Click here for additional events and more information on the 12 authors and the cultural programme in conjunction with the British Council. These questions were posed by journalist, curator and writer Paul Gravett.