Do your social media feeds look like a political battleground? Or have you had enough of rampant digital display of religious sentiment? Then you might enjoy the Instagram account @nynecomics – or Nyne Comics on Facebook – a satire on Indonesian society one comic strip at a time.
From flawed logics to religious hypocrisy, sexism to mansplaining, @nynecomics’s popularity has shot up among humor-hungry Indonesian netizens, with some 18,000 followers on Instagram and 27,000 on Facebook gained within six months since the account became active.
The mastermind behind the dry humor are “Y” and “A”, who both requested anonymity. Both have their day jobs: Y, a woman in her 20s works at a private company, and A, a man in his 30s works freelance in the music industry and owns an online business. Having been friends for some time, the pair initially did the comic strips to preserve their daily conversation and inside jokes. The name was a random decision, they said, adding it had no special meaning.
“Honestly, we never had a specific goal with these comics,” Y told Magdalene in an interview conducted by email. “In fact we were actually shocked by the huge number of followers that we gained in such a short time. Now we feel like we can share ideas and thoughts with many people. We have actually learned a lot from our followers.”
The topics they choose for the comic strips are inspired by various sources: a conversation they heard, the hottest issues of the day, or even ideas suggested by their readers. Every day they produce up to three comic strips, which are drawn exclusively by A with feedbacks from Y.
“Since A is always on his computer anyway, productivity is never a problem for us,” said Y.
Their appeal of their comic strips comes from their fearless approach to what many consider to be sensitive issues, tackling various topics from politics, religion, to feminism. The reactions have varied.
“A lot of people support our point of views, but many also complain about the sensitivity of the topics that we raise. We don’t mind the reactions – whether they agree or disagree with our opinions. But we’d just rather avoid useless conflicts or disagreements.”
Still, they put out a disclaimer: “Our tagline states that our comics shouldn’t be read by your little siblings or your mom and dad. Our targets are people our age, because they relate more to this.”
In fact some of their readers even admit that though the comic strips speak to them, they would not share them on their social media accounts for fear of “stirring up” conflicts in their family.
“They would rather send us direct messages,” said Y.
Looking at Nyne Comics’s religious-related content, one would assume they come from a liberal background, which couldn’t be more wrong. Both Y and A graduated from the same Islamic Boarding School (MTsN). They expressed their concern of how religion has been weaponized in recent years. They also pointed at how conservative ideas are inseparable from the many patriarchal practices that harm women.
“Some people have become more conservative in the way they practice their religions; on the other hand, some people have chosen to abandon their religion. There is nothing wrong with that, because, fundamentally speaking, faith is a private matter. It becomes a problem when the political elites take advantage of the situation, turning what should be a strictly private matter into a norm and a public issue for their own interest,” said Y.
Most of their comedic criticism revolves around the objectification of women in the patriarchal society, but when asked of their views on feminism, Y said, “No, we wouldn’t call ourselves feminists. Although, it seems that we are irritated by the same problems.”
In an oppressive climate where minority groups and those who dare to speak up often end up being persecuted, are they ever worried that they would once be targeted?
Said Y: “There’s a lot of injustice being done on people using religion, and those who criticize it will automatically be accused of blasphemy. We know that publishing the comic has its own risks, but we believe we are not alone.”
Shafira Amalia is an International Relations graduate too tempted by her passion for writing. Her dreams is to meet Billie Eilish or destroying patriarchy would be cool too. Follow her on Instagram at @sapphire.dust
Don’t forget to visit Nyne Comics at Facebook and Instagram!