My newsletter: TL;DR

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This isn’t about comics. It’s about news from South Asia. If you want to skip the long story, just go see it here (and SUBSCRIBE!): http://eepurl.com/O1K79

What is TL;DR?
TL;DR is internet speak for ‘Too Long; Didn’t Read’.

Why is TL;DR a thing I do?
I spend a lot of time commuting to and from work. I spend most of that time reading, and mostly reading the news. My friends, on the other hand, don’t have the time to keep up with the news. Especially my South Asian friends in the US and elsewhere. So, I created TL;DR so that the next time they go see their cousins or desi friends they too can sound up-to-date on what’s going on in the motherlands. =D

Is it only South Asian news?
Yes. I’m not even touching South Asians in the US. Just straight South Asia. If you want news about the diaspora in the US, check out The Aerogram.

Wait- wth is “South Asia”?
South Asia refers to the following countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

It’s a one woman show right now, so it’s full of typos and stuff. I’m also working full time, so I basically collect stories through the week and speed write it all down in one day.

And yes, it’s free. Don’t worry. I don’t even have a ‘Donate’ button.

Comics: Culturestrike’s ‘Liberty For All’

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I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking and researching gender lately, both as part of my current job and my personal interest. I’ve also been really really interested in creating and reading comics that have a social message and/or are educational. Part of this interest also lies in the fact that I’m more interested in how people learn in informal environments. Importantly, how can we use comics to talk about issues that people face today? 

So my interest was immediately piqued when I came across ‘Liberty for All’- a comic series by Julio Salgado and Tina Vasquez about LGBTQIA issues at Culture Strike. It tells the story of Liberty-an undocumented queer person of colour. The comic deals with all sorts of issues: immigration, feminism, queerness and race are the obvious. Check it out here

To me, as a cis-gendered hetero person of colour, this comic is sort of a soft introduction to issues faced by the queer/trans/non-cis community. It’s funny and what I like more though is the sometimes intellectual conversations Liberty has about these issues. 

I can see this comic being used as a teaching tool to open debate and create dialogue. I’d love to read more of these sustained and regular strips that attack important modern issues. Like, where’s the comic strip that debates feminism? I’m sure it’s buried on the internet somewhere. I just have to find it! 

 

Comic: Gender Tapas from Groooonk!

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I found this quirky little comic via ObservationDeck.

Two gender ambiguous people go out to Brian’s Binary for dinner and find that they kinda like some stuff from the menu but want to mix it up. It’s really a clever way to discuss the concept of gender flexibility and the fact that we all possess, like or aspire to traits that are considered traditionally male or traditionally female.

Comics: A comic for the visually impaired

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I came across this on my twitter feed a whole ago and thought it was pretty cool. Phillip Meyer, an interaction designer, has designed a comic book in braille for the visually impaired. The narrative- a love story – appears fairly straightforward and Meyer points out that the story is not the focal point as much as the design itself. Essentially, he asked the question: Is it possible to create comics in Braille? And if so, what would these look like?

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Like a true designer, he sought out advice from his target audience to learn how readers experience Braille and decipher the possible syntax for Braille comics. The result: a project called ‘Life‘. On his site, he takes care to assert that the project is just an “experiment” and that it is not the only way to approach “sequential tactile storytelling”.

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Comics: Alan Moore and Best of 2012

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It has been a while since I posted on comics. I’m no longer covering the indie-comics scene in India BUT these two links were too cool to not post.

1. Alan Moore made a film and released it for free because he’s awesome like that and he likes to stick it to Hollywood. <3 It’s called Jimmy’s End.

2. Maria Popova of Brain Pickings links us to the best graphic novels of 2012. The list is here. It’s heavy with a lot of adaptations. I’m not the hugest fan of that even though I get it- it will introduce a whole new generation of readers to old classics etc etc. However, the second book on the list sounds gorgeous:

Building Stories by Chis Ware. I WANT THIS SO BAD. It’s a graphic narrative about three tenants in a Chicago apartment building: an elderly gentleman, a warring married couple and an amputee. Ware is redefining what a comic can look like. This “book” is more a collection of pamphlets, booklets and something that resembles a board game. Unfortunately, it’s out of stock at Amazon but when it’s back in stock, it will be mine.

Right now I’m reading: Habibi by Craig Thompson. It may be the most beautiful book I’ve ever held in my hands. I won’t describe it. Click the link for asynopsis and here are some pages:

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In awesome news, I won first prize in Talk Magazine’s short story competition! I’ve never won ANYTHING in my LIFE before so this is supermadexciting for me.

So, the story is about a young girl junkie navigating the streets of Bangalore looking for her next fix. It’s pretty gritty. As usual because it’s a story about heroin abuse, it may not be suitable for ALL audiences.

It appears also that I have made the damn cover of this magazine which is like totally rad. After the last couple of weeks I’ve had (what with losing my entire life to Hurricane Sandy- we were part of the unfortunate lot that got flooded out of our apartment pretty bad and after being ‘homeless’ for 20 days, we signed a new lease on a new apartment yesterday, so whew!)… anyway, given all that bullshit, all of this is making me smile.

The magazine is based out of Bangalore. If you’re in India- go buy it!!! It’s only Rs. 10/-

Or read it online here.

Below is an excerpt:

“Frequently, I’d buy half a gram only to find that it had been hastily cut with unknown crystals, sugar, pharmaceuticals and, according to rumour, even mosquito coil ash. There was an ever-revolving door of dealers who came to meet me with this questionable stash. They all gave me the same story, “Kareem’s gone mad.” A scramble for power ensued and, if rumours are to be believed, Kareem was thrown out of his own hovel. Where he went crawling to was anybody’s guess.

Unfortunately, these small-time dealers possessed neither Kareem’s business sense nor his charisma when it came to dealing with the Law. Dealers started to disappear only to re-appear as four lines of a story in the crime section of newspapers: “Man caught with 1.5 kg of heroin at Michaelpalya” – that sort of stuff.

The business of being a junkie was becoming extremely hard. Whenever I’d find my dealers missing or see their guilty mug shots peering out at me from a newspaper, I’d take a trip down to Shivajinagar.”

Review: The Watch by Joydeep Bhattacharya

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 Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya tackles the uncomfortable topic of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. In telling the story of a young Afghani woman who only wants to claim her slain’s brother’s body so she can give him a proper burial, he draws out the real heart of the conflict: who is the enemy and just who is the defender? I like this book, despite the heavy Antigone references (which, I’ll admit, I had to look up) because it feels real. Not just in terms of dialogue- which is peppered with Army slang, American slang and, of course, those long passages where Lt. Nick Frobenius quotes directly from Antigone; but also, in the way that the soldiers, both American and Afghani, deal with ethical and moral dilemmas. We see, for instance, how the Americans mistrust the Afghani soldiers, the cultural complexity that is Afghanistan, the difficulty of telling the Taliban from other Afghani fighters.

Actually, now that I’m writing about it, I’d really like to read a story from the Afghani perspective. If you have any recommendations, let me know. :)

The Watch will make you dizzy with a narrative that circles a central event but spirals off every now and the into these hallucinatory nightmares, dreams and fantasies of the characters who are suffering in their own way. There is loss of life, love and limb- and in the end, we are still no closer to understanding the war or the events that are taking place inside it but what we do get a glimpse of is the humanity that survives even in the desert.

Below is an excerpt, click here to read the full review at Hyphen Magazine:

“When Nizam, a crippled Afghani woman, arrives at an American military base looking for her brother Yusuf’s body, she sets off a chain of events that tests the convictions of the soldiers. As they speculate over whether she’s a Trojan horse, a spy sent by the Taliban, or whether she is simply what she says she is — a sister who wants to bury her brother’s body — Nizam holds her ground, refusing to leave without Yusuf’s body. Meanwhile, the war, or rather, the waiting and watching that characterizes the war in Afghanistan, is taking its toll on the soldiers. In many ways, The Watch is a classic anti-war narrative. Bhattacharya takes great pains to paint a realistic portrayal of war, the camaraderie between the men, and the emotional support that they so badly need from one another.”

Here is the book trailer, because it’s a thing people do these days. I may be the last person left on earth who’d rather skim a written review than watch a trailer unfold second by second… ha.