Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Taubat Si Tanggang

Today theSun published my interview with Adilfitri Ahmad who talks about his graphic book Taubat Si Tanggang. Here is the full story 

Headline: A folktale Reborn
By Bissm S 

Adifitri Ahmad  a full-time web designer and illustrator, has given the traditional Malay folktale of Si Tanggang a new lease of life in his latest graphic novel, Taubat Si Tanggang (left). Coloured by artists Akmal Aziz and Khairul Ammar and published by Maple Comics, the 100-page book (priced at RM20), recently hit the bookshops. 
The original folktale centres on a poor boy  named Tanggang who dreams of becoming rich and famous. He leaves his small fishing village to find his dream, despite his mother’s protests. Tanggang works hard and achieves the fame and success he sought, even marrying a beautiful wife. Unfortunately, success has changed him. He forgets about his poor old mother pining for him back in the 
village. When his ship happens to sail to his village, he feels ashamed of her and rejects her. Heartbroken, his mother 
places a curse on him and a bolt of lightning turns Tanggang, his ship and all the people on it into stone. Adifitri, 35, decided to add to this local folktale by focusing on Tanggang’s life after he has been turned into stone. 
In his novel, Tanggang is a stone-creature remorsefully searching for his mother to beg for her  forgiveness. 
“This is a story of  redemption and atonement,” Adifitri said. 
It’s a different side of  Tanggang from the arrogant, ungrateful character portrayed in the original tale. Along his journey in search of his mother, a humble and remorseful Tanggang performs good deeds. He finds that the more good he does, the more stones disappear from his body, and the more human he becomes. Yet, this book will not end with him finding his mother. Instead, Adifitri is planning two more books before Tanggang finally finds her. 
The illustrator is concerned with the fact that many Malaysians are unaware of this folktale. He said: “I [had] a few friends who asked me who Tanggang is. I do not blame them. Today, you have to  compete with so much content and i nformation out there. You have to present your story in an interesting  manner if you want to grab attention. 
“I am hoping these graphic books will teach [the] younger g eneration to be interested in k nowing  Tanggang. And who 
knows, they might even dig up the original text.” 
Adifitri pointed out that Hollywood is always churning out different interpretations of E uropean fairytales. For example, 
the recent film Maleficent is a d ifferent  interpretation of the c lassic story of Sleeping Beauty, and the musical film 
Into the Woods combines s everal stories to keep the tales  interesting and alive for  modern audiences. This is what he 
is trying to do with Tanggang. 
“Some people want  Tanggang to be removed from our Malay folk stories,” he lamented. 
“They feel the idea of a mother cursing her son and God turning him into stone is not I slamic. “I feel it is a shame if this happens. The story of Tanggang is part of our heritage and culture, and we should appreciate it.”  
Recently, Adifitri presented a paper on his graphic novel at a conference in the U niversity of Leeds in the United Kingdom. He hopes this conference will indirectly give some exposure to Malay folk stories in the West.

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