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!
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.
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?
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”.
It’s been a ridiculous month and a half. I moved to NY, started school, started work and I still have ALL my writing projects. I’ve been stressing like a champion so it was freaking awesome to wake up this morning to see that KURU GOT PRESS!!
Here‘s an interview with Ari by Platform Magazine.
And here’s a blog post at deepad. Scroll down a ways to see the bit about Kuru Chronicles. The funniest part is when the author refers to me as (lady author!). Ha ha.
Thanks to both Platform and Deepad for the props. This is the kind of stuff that keeps us going when we’re stuck in a dark room filled with ink.
New review! This time I had a chance to read Keshni Kashyap‘s witty comic ‘Tina’s Mouth- an Existential Comic Diary‘. It’s about an Indian-American high school student whose English project is to keep a diary on existentialism.
I went to some pretty straight forward schools in India where all we did was sit and listen to our teachers read aloud from textbooks. It was only until I moved to Madras and went to Sishya that I was in a school where teachers worked really hard to engage us. Point being, I really like how in this book the teacher tries to engage his students by creating innovative projects.
I mean existentialism is a pretty heavy topic.
My first encounter with it was when I was read Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder, which is basically a book about a young girl who starts receiving mysterious postcards from an anonymous source. The first one simply asks, ‘Who are you?’ The book then sees Sophie pretty much take a whirlwind tour of the history of philosophy. Her anonymous source is a philosopher called Albert Knox (whom she doesn’t meet or know anything about yet) and he acts as her philosophy tutor teaching her about all the great philosophers from Plato to Descartes and Kierkegaard. It was very engaging and to me, at the time 17, pretty mind-blowing. The climax- about the nature of reality, gave me goosebumps.
I’m not sure how much I would like the book as an adult though and that’s the same way I felt about Tina’s Mouth. I think, though, that teenagers would like it. The book greatest strength is Kashyap’s writing.
Here’s an excerpt of my review.
“Fifteen-year-old Tina Malhotra’s life is thrown for a loop when her best friend since kindergarten, Alex, deserts her and starts hanging out with the popular kids. Alone but defiant, Tina chooses to spend her time on her existentialist diary — a project created by her teacher for his English class. Spouting wisdom straight from Jean Paul Sartre’s books, Tina attempts to navigate high school and life using Sartre as inspiration, mentor, and friend. Although Tina is certain that she is not like any of the other teenagers in her school, the existentialist project does spur her on a journey of self discovery. Interestingly, this self-discovery revolves around the one obsession that she does share with all the other teenage girls in her school: the hallowed, mysterious and magical first kiss. Or, in Tina’s case, the lack of one.”
Click here to read the full review at Hyphen Magazine.
My friend and comics author, illustrator and researcher Gokul Gopalakrishnan dissects the Indian graphic novels and comics scene in an article for Fountain Ink Magazine. Gokul also draws and illustrates Small Talk and As the City Is for New Indian Express and DNA.
Written for Fountain Ink, Gokul’s article forces us to take off our rose-tinted glasses and look at the industry as it truly is and where it’s headed. It’s refreshingly honest and at a time when everyone else is gushing about the quantity of publications, Gokul’s focus remains on quality.
When he first began writing this article, we had a couple of conversations about it; about the direction the industry is headed and what we, as creatives, are doing to help shape it. Click here to read his article and below is an excerpt:
“To put it bluntly, Bhimayana and Tara Books’ I See the Promised Land, a biography of Martin Luther King illustrated by Patua artists of Bengal, are perfect examples of how marrying traditional Indian art style to a post-industrial art form like comics doesn’t necessarily deliver quality graphic narratives.
If at one end of the graphic novel spectrum in India are the mainstream publishers who are more or less content with a set of established names, and superficial thematic and stylistic “innovations” the other end is populated by a group of independent smaller comics publishers who have gleefully dropped anchor at the superhero-mythology genre bay.”
I’m quoted in it, by the way. It’s just one tiny little line but Gokul and I talked about the article for a few days and I’m glad that that one line is the one he chose to use.
Manta Ray, creators of the comic Hush (for which I interviewed them here), have put out a submissions call!
If you have a stellar idea for a single-page comic on contemporary issues, scribble it up and send it off to the Ray. If you’re like me and can’t draw, you can send them a written pitch and they’ll pair you with an illustrator. If you can draw- well, then go draw it!
Click here for submission guidelines and all that fun stuff.