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SMA8 Interview #13 – Dedy Koerniawan (Excellence Award Winner)

Christopher Tordoff Christopher Tordoff 21/02/2018 14 min read

The quiet life was never an option for Excellence Award winner Dedy Koerniawan. Having left his sleepy village in the heart of Java, the enigmatic Indonesian mangaka pursued fortune and glory in the big city, where he met his comrades of creativity, including our very first SMA GP winner! Dedy talks to us about rare moments of boredom, stress busting tips, and the endless possibilities of manga.



Hello Dedy!



“… I was desperate to get out and find life!”


Where did you grow up? City or Rural? Anything the world should know about it?

I was born in a small village called Lengkong, in the centre of Java. It was quite an uneventful life in an uneventful town and I was desperate to get out and find life! So once I graduated from High School, I decided to move to the Bandung, the capital of West Java where my adventure began!


So, to the bright lights of the city!! Did you find fellow manga fans?

I did! Do you know Alex Irzaqi, the SMA1 Grand Prix winner? He’s my sensei, and he lives in my neighbourhood!


Alex Irzaqi’s award winning, SMA1 entry Excuse Me


Small world! Is he a good teacher?

He’s a very good teacher. He has a good method that I can easily understand. He knows me, so he knows my potential and how I understand things. I’m learning a lot from him.


If a friend from the SMAC!ommunity visited you for a sightseeing trip, where would you take them?

There are many mountains and beaches in Bandung and Jogja so plenty of trekking and relaxing. I’d want to show people the rich culture and heritage of Indonesia, which can found in both the mountain treks and beaches along our shores.


What do you like to do when you’re not drawing manga?

First and foremost, I love drawing, and when I’m not drawing, I’m learning new techniques, methodology and reading articles on manga. But it’s not all work! When boredom strikes, or I need to clear my head, I take out my skateboard for a few hours.

I also want to learn how to animate! Most kids here rarely read comics, but they all love cartoons. I think we can do anything after we’ve learned how, expect cooking. No matter how much I learn, I still can’t cook delicious food!


What kind of movies and music do you like?

I love the Harry Potter series, but also more serious works, such as Mad Max and apocalyptic set stories…though not zombies! Too many zombie stories out there! I also love the movie IT, the killer clown character is perfect! My music taste is very varied! I can listen to Nu Metal, Metal, Rock and Pop…even AKB48!


West Bandung at dawn, a city brimming with inspiration. (Flickr/Everyone Sinks Starco)



“It’s all about the possibilities manga can bring.”


Why is manga important?

It’s all about the possibilities manga can bring. For me, it’s telling the people of my village, of my country that becoming a professional mangaka is an exciting and worthwhile career. It’s a career driven by passion, with wonderful possibilities.


A lot of people say anime introduced them to manga, was that the same for you?

Yes, I was an anime fan first. My first manga was Naruto, and from the first time I opened up the manga, my dreams of becoming a professional manga creator began. 


What were you feeling back then?

Hmmm, it was a mixture of excitement and determination. The store I read my first manga had other manga, but it was Naruto that I was drawn to. In fact, the very next I visited the store and read it again, then the next day, then the next. The same manga day after day!


For a spiritual help in hand. 


Why just that one manga?!

There wasn’t much out there at the time! Naruto and…hentai manga!


Yikes!! Do you have lively comic industry in Indonesia?

We do, but its more in the western tradition, like superman, DC and Marvel. Though we have a lot manga influenced work in Indonesia.


Was there an artist or story that inspired you to become a manga creator?

I love the works of Masashi Kisimoto, Obata Takeshi, Yusuke Murata, Takehiko Inoe and Hiroaki Samura. I’m also inspired by manga creators from my own country, such as my sensei Alex Irzaqi and illustrator Sweta Kartika.


What challenges do you face creating manga?

Patients and boredom (laughs). I can experience both when making manga, though not often. When either strike, I’ll either spend a few hours skateboarding or really beat the stress away with Parkour. Military obstacle course training is the best way to clear my head so I’m fresh to tackle any issues in my manga.


Do you have a lot of friends in the manga community?

I do! In fact, I actually share a home with other mangaka! We collectively self publish out work, mine being a manga called Nagasari. We live and breath manga 24/7!


So, is the self published work popular?

Well, we’ve had a really good response with lots of people reading it and commenting on social media. I see them as my friends! Which is the best way to sell manga! (laughs)




“… I’m not going anywhere!”


How do you feel after winning?

I still can’t believe it! I sent two stories and one won!


What was the reaction from your family and friends when you won the award?

My friends actually found out I won before I did! As for family, my mother didn’t believe I could become a professional mangaka. But that’s normal, most parents don’t believe this career choice is possible. My sister was overjoyed, and my parents rushed around the neighbourhood, telling anyone who’d listen!


Is the older generation against the mangaka career choice?

Yes, they would much rather we were doctors or lawyers (laughs). I won an award in SMA, so I’m not going anywhere! Thankfully, they now understand that this is my life.


What was the inspiration for Conciseness?

Being “fair” is hard work! It involves good judgement and strength to do what’s right. This kind of internal struggle really appeals to me so I had fun throwing all these tempting offers at the protagonist, making him utilize his judgement to finally decide on what is morally right. I did struggle with the ending, changing it more than once.


Why did you change the ending?

Well, once I showed the original ending to some friends, they suggested simplifying the ending. I’m glad I did, the climax scene is much more effective now.


Can’t let a cold get in the way of manga! 



“I’m always learning new techniques to improve my manga…”


Where do you see your future career in manga?

I can’t even begin to dream of the future, just taking each day as it comes. I’m always learning new techniques to improve my manga and God willing, I’ll have a long and successful career. 


Thank you Dedy!


Pen? Check. Paper? Check. Ruler? Check. Cat? Check


Cohabiting Mangaka, taking the idea of “Manga community” to its extreme! So many creators living under roof must make for a delightfully fertile environment to make intriguing manga, even is boredom does bite occasionally! With inspiration around every corner, we’re sure Dedy will continue to “wow” the SMAC!ommunity with his direct method of story making.


SMAC!ommunity, do you have a creative itch you’re dying to scratch? Are you overflowing with story ideas? If yes, then start drawing for SMA9 round TODAY!!

Do you want to join the world’s biggest manga community? Start drawing for the SMA9 round TODAY!

SMA9 is the first time we’ve offered THREE themes to choose from! If you feel like a challenge, why not pick two, or all three themes! 

Make manga your language too! You have until March 31st, 2018 to say “HELLO” to your new friends! Click the banner for more details on how to enter…



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Christopher Tordoff

Christopher Tordoff