JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Seventeen-year-old student Rizka Raisah Fatimah Ramli from Makassar, South Sulawesi, has won the Unicef and Comics Uniting Nations' worldwide comic contest.
Her creation Cipta is designed to help keep children and young people safe from violence in and around schools.
The main character Cipta is a make-believe superhero who gives children a sketchbook to draw objects that, in turn, come to life and stop violence and bullying.
The comic contest was launched in October 2018, calling on children and young people to create a comic superhero that would defeat The Silence, a supernatural character that uses its powers to stop children from speaking up and taking action against violence in and around schools.
Unicef said that nearly 3,600 submissions were entered from more than 130 countries and more than 23,000 votes were cast on the contest website to determine the winner.
In a text interview with The Jakarta Post last Thursday (Jan 10), Rizka said she started to draw in elementary school, as her older brother and sisters found joy in reading comic books and playing video games such as Slam Dunk and Lost Saga.
"I started by copying the styles in the comics or games, and it has been a hobby until now," said the 17-year-old high-schooler, who is also an avid reader of comics.
Finding the Unicef contest through Instagram, Rizka said that she initially joined it to gain experience as well as for fun.
Relating to the contest's theme, she said she had the unfortunate experience of being verbally bullied in the first year of high school.
"At the time, I had no idea what to do, as it also happened to my friends and I thought that it was a normal thing," she said.
The character of Cipta was created out of the blue, Rizka said, when the deadline was almost due.
"Before, there were around three characters, which I made with the help of a classmate. Suddenly I felt the characters were too mainstream and I started from scratch again. The inspiration for Cipta came out of nowhere when I was doodling on a test paper, and my friend helped in creating a rough story," she added.
In a statement released by Unicef, Rizka said she created Cipta to draw attention to the violence and bullying that children in Indonesia and around the world face every day.
"Through drawing, I feel that my character is alive and I have control over bullies. I hope I can inspire many people, especially children, to tell their stories, and if they can't say it directly, to do so through drawing."
As the winner, Rizka will have the opportunity to collaborate with a professional team to produce a full-length comic book featuring Cipta. Her comic book will be presented to world leaders at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at the United Nations in July, as well as distributed to schools and children worldwide.
When asked whether being a comic artist is something she would seriously consider in the future, Rizka replied: "Honestly, I find making comics is hard, though I did think of becoming one when I was in the craze of reading Bakuman. Even so, it remains one of my aspirations."