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SMA8 Interview #16 – Imam Subekti (Excellence Award Runner Up Winner)

Christopher Tordoff Christopher Tordoff 02/03/2018 11 min read

A relative newcomer to SMA, Indonesian manga creator Imam Subekti is making his mark in the world of manga. Heroically earning himself an Excellence Award Runner Up award for his SMA8 entry, Fair, this fledgling mangaka talks to SMAC! about the beauty of his native Indonesia, Medieval music and the growth of manga in his homeland.



Hello Imam!




“… manga is a huge part of who I am.”


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

I grew up a small village called Nglipar, in the district of Gunungkidul, Special Province of Yogyakarta in Indonesia. It’s just a plain old, typical Indonesian village, but I’m thankful to have grown up there. I still live in Nglipar today!


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

Gunungkidul is famous for its beautiful beaches. We have over 25 beaches here, including Drini, Krakal, Baron, Sundak, Sepanjang, and many more! If you enjoy hiking, we have Gunung Api Purba Nglanggeran, a region of outstanding beauty, littered with mountains, forests and springs. If you’re feeling adventurous, Indonesia’s most active volcano, Merapi is only 2 hours drive away from my house! Cave exploring? We have Pindul Cave, Maria Cave, Lowo Cave, filled with underground lakes and primeval forests. So yes, we have a few sightseeing destinations!


What is a typical day in your life like?

I work full time, so making manga can be a juggling act! I usually spend the evenings and weekends drawing, but tend to work way into the night!!


What do you like to do in your ‘downtime”?

Movies are very important to me, with my favorites being The Lord of the Rings and The Man from Earth. In fact I like almost all movie genres…except horror. I just can’t stand it!! (laughs). I’m currently listening to medieval influenced music, such as Faun, as well as Celtic instrumental songs. I also find listening to RPG game and movie soundtracks very influential to making manga. Games? Got to be Dark Souls!! “Praise the sun \[T]/”


The “outstanding beauty” of Gunungkidul. Flickr/yopi priyatna




“… manga is a huge part of who I am.”


Why is manga important to you?

Manga, for me, is the only way I can show the world that I exist, and the only outlet for my emotions. Because of this, manga is a huge part of who I am.


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

I was motivated to create manga when I saw the work of fellow Indonesian comic artist, Sweta Kartika. By chance, I drifted onto his Facebook page back in 2010, when I was just starting college and was immediately impressed by his work. I found it exciting to see someone successfully make a career from their passions. I was moved so much, I decided to embark on my journey as an artist’s apprentice! LOL


Is manga popular in your country?

Manga is becoming more and more popular, thanks to the internet, especially amongst the youth. We have local comic-cons, several times a year, where creators can sell their original work and network with other comic creators.


What kind of environment do you work in while you’re drawing manga?

I’ve recently began working in digital, using a pen tablet and computer. It’s only been a year so still deciding what’s best!


What challenges do you face creating manga?

I work full time so finding the right moment to work on my manga is a challenge. I usually work through the night, and on my days off, so finding sleep is the other big challenge!


It’s only been a year using digital media! 




“[Winning an international award] feels like a dream come true!”


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

Everyone was very happy for me, especially my mother and brothers. As this is an international event, it feels like a dream come true!


What was your reaction to the theme?

Difficult. When I heard “Fair Play”, my first thought was to create a sports manga, but I really struggled to find the inspiration. I left it for a few days, then the seeds of a story started to sprout…


So what was the inspiration for Fair??

I don’t know exactly. The idea just popped into my head and I started to play with storyboards for it. Maybe it was repressed memory!


How long did it take you to complete?

As I work full time, I could only work in my spare time. All together, maybe about 1 to 2 weeks.


Did the entry fulfill your expectations?

Yes! It actually exceeded my expectations! XD. I’m not sure if I really captured the theme successfully, but I was overall very happy.


An example of Imam’s many commission pieces. 



“What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger…”


What are you working on at the moment?

Really focussing on SMA9, as well as an illustration commission for a short novel.


Where do you see your future career in manga?

As I’m a newcomer to the world of manga, I can’t say where my career will go! I just want to learn how to make better manga, and one day, be able to call myself a genuine, 100% mangaka! XD


Anything you’d like to shout to the SMAC!ommunity?

What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger so keep making manga!


Thank you Imam!


Imam’s love of the fantasy genre can be felt in much of his work.


Nothing encapsulates the calling of the mangaka more than the saying, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”!! With this at the forefront of his mind, Imam Subekti is sure to realize his dreams of becoming a genuine, 100% mangaka!!



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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Banner photo by sara marlowe
Christopher Tordoff

Christopher Tordoff