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Ganes TH


Ganes Thiar Santosa (Thio Thiauw San, 1935-1995) was another great prolific Indonesian comics artist. His talent for drawing already shown when he was a student in junior high school in Tion Hoa Wee Koan (THHK): he created logo and brand for a small resaurant and get paid with a bowl of porridge. He then enrolled in Indonesian Visual Arts Academy in Jogjakarta but has to stop his college study because of his financial problem. Ganes did spend some times as the assistant of a famous Indonesian painter, Lee Man Fong.

With this fine arts background, Ganes TH developed a unique signature throughout his ouvre of comics. The unique visual style and authorial voice in his stories were developed in two stages of his career. First stage began when he published his first comics in 1965 and until 1967 he already published more than 20 titles of various genres: romance, adventure, spy, action drama, and horror. No strong individual style then in his line art but his stories already shown his talent for good characterization and plot.

In 1967, he published what later became one of the most iconic comics character in Indonesian comics history, Si Buta Dari Goa Hantu (Blind Swordsman From Ghost Cave). Inspired by Japanese popular movie character, Zato-Ichi, with addition of snake skin costume and his monkey, Wanara, Si Buta journeyed throughout Indonesian archipelago and imagined a violent but charming universe that suitable for his narrative of a nation of “Indonesia”.

Si Buta evolved into a corpus of graphic novel series: 21 titles with 14 titles have more than 400 pages. The series was one of the defining works for Indonesian comics history in the ’70s. It kicked off the imense popularity and industrial success of  Silat (Indonesian martial arts) genre and created a link between comics and Indonesian movies. Throughout 1970s, Ganes published a string of hits besides Si Buta series, and many readers differed in their choices of Ganes’ masterpiece: is it Si Jampang, Krakatoa Trilogy, or Taufan

Ganes TH’s work was not only popular among Indonesian readers but also gained recognition and admiration from international comics artists. In 1973, he was invited to attend the Angoulême International Comics Festival in France, where he received an award for his outstanding contribution to the comics medium. His work has also been translated into several languages, including French, German, and Dutch.

Sadly, Ganes TH passed away in 1995, leaving behind a rich legacy in Indonesian comics. His contribution to the development and popularization of the Silat genre and his unique storytelling style have influenced and inspired many Indonesian comics artists that followed in his footsteps. His iconic character, Si Buta Dari Goa Hantu, remains a beloved character in Indonesian popular culture, with various adaptations in movies, television series, and video games.