Satirical comic about the past of the VOC
The comic De legende van Vleermuisvechter will be the Dutch translation of the Indonesian comic Legenda Sawungkampret. It is a satirical comic set in Java in the early 17th century when the VOC (Dutch East India Company), led by Governor General Jan Pieterszoon Coen, established its power in and around the small colony of Batavia.
Dutch readers will be surprised how this piece of Dutch overseas history is told from an Indonesian perspective. In their fight against the Dutch, the Indonesian heroes of the story, Vleermuisvechter and Na'ief, resemble the Gallic comic book heroes Asterix and Obelix in their fight against the Romans.
De legende van Vleermuisvechter is the first part of this adventure series Legenda Sawungkampret of which seven parts have been published in Indonesia.
Dossier with background
The translated comic is supplemented with a 'dossier' with background information about the comic maker Dwi Koendoro, the Dutch and Indonesian perspective on the VOC, the facts between the fabrications in the comic, the humour. the translation and the place of the comic in the Indo-Dutch intangible heritage.
About Tom van der Geugten
Historian drs. Tom van der Geugten (Bandung, 1952) was a teacher and lecturer in secondary and higher education and is specializes in Indonesian and Indo-Dutch history.
At VU-University Amsterdam he teaches the HOVO courses 'Indonesia and the Netherlands' and 'The Indonesian image of the past'.
As an educational author, he contributed to textbooks such as Gechiedeniswerkplaats. He also made publications about the attention paid to the colonial past in textbooks, such as the chapter 'The history of slavery in Dutch education' in the recently published book Staat en slavernij. Het Nederlandse slavernijverleden en zijn doorwerking (State and Slavery. The Dutch Slavery Past and its Impact).
Photo: Tom van der Geugten
Why this comic?
When Tom van der Geugten studied Dutch and Indonesian comics, he found out two translated Dutch comics have been published in Indonesia - Rampokan by Peter van Dongen and De Terugkeer (Tapak Tilas) by Eric Heuvel and Ruud van der Rol - but there is not a single Dutch version of an Indonesian comic, while in the Netherlands there is a growing interest in the Indonesian image of the colonial past.
Most Indonesian historical comics are very serious in tone. An exception to this is the very humorous series Legenda Sawung Kampret in which the Dutch (not all of them!) like Jan Pieterszoon Coen are ridiculed. That is why this comic seemed ideally suited for a Dutch publication.
Meanwhile, Governor General JP Coen exploded when he saw that his soldiers had failed.
Shame on you!!! That you have been defeated by such primitive people!! And also lost one bullet.
Two with the blank.
They are tough silat fighters, Your Excellency.
The most important thing is that no blood has been shed. We only have bumps on our heads, a crack here and there, dizziness and a few scorch marks.
Illustration: Image from the Indonesian comic Legenda Sawungkampret.
Date: November 30th, 2023
Time: in the evening
Location: De Utrechtse Boekenbar, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Dutch will be spoken on this evening. This evening is open to interested individuals and guests. Registration is required.
Photo: De Utrechtse Boekenbar
Guest speakers presentation
dr. Mei Li Vos
Mei Li Vos is known as a politician, previously as a member of the Dutch House of Representatives and now of the Senate (GroenLinks/PvdA).
prof. dr. Kees Ribbens
Prof. Dr. Pamela Pattynama
About Jolien van der Geugten
Dr. Jolien van der Geugten is senior researcher, writer and project leader.
W.Y.S. stands for What's Your Story? It is her mission to give people a voice and tell (hidden) stories through research and education.
When her father Tom van der Geugten came up with the plan to translate and publish this comic book into Dutch, she immediately was enthusiastic. The comic book gives the Indonesian perspective a voice, and in this form can also reach younger generations.
Photo: Carola Doornbos
This project is made possible in part by the vfonds (National Fund for Peace, Freedom and Veteran Care), thanks to donations from the National Postcode Lottery, the BankGiro Lottery and the Dutch Lottery.
The vfonds supports initiatives and projects that constantly remind the Netherlands how special peace and freedom are and how valuable our democracy is. By keeping the memory of war alive. By commemorating victims and valuing war veterans. But also by celebrating peace and freedom. Together we build a peaceful society.
Illustration: Logo vfonds
[vfonds invests in peace]
"The way in which the Indonesian perspective is highlighted and the comic is placed in context in this project can be of added value to an understanding of the Indo-Dutch dual identity. In addition, the project contributes to a polyphonic understanding of history by a wide audience, especially among younger generations."