Tag Archives: Comics

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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Press: The Kuru Chronicles Updates!

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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.

Review: Tina’s Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary

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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.

Quoted: Gokul Gopalakrishnan dissects Indian graphic novels

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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.

Call for submissions from Manta Ray

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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.

Review: ‘Zahra’s Paradise’ by Amir and Khalil

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For the last eight months, I’ve been reading nothing but graphic novels and comics. I figured that if I was going to write one myself, I’d do well to immerse myself in that world as much as possible. During that time, I’ve read some iffy ones, some good ones and some that made me want to curl up into a little ball and give up any and all dreams of ever writing again (see pic).

Zahra’s Paradise by Amir and Khalil is one of those books…

Zahra’s Paradise started off as a free webcomic but the power of social media turned that little webcomic, about life in Iran after the 2009 elections, into a literary phenomenon. It has since been published by First Second Books. Below is an excerpt of my review for Hyphen Magazine or click here for the full article.

“Zahra’s Paradiseis a fictionalized account about the search for a young university student, Mehdi, who fails to come home one night after participating in the protests. It is also the story of his mother, Zahra, and brother, Hassan, as they navigate through Iran’s labyrinthine bureaucracy in an attempt to track him down. The book is written and illustrated pseudonymously by ‘Amir’ and ‘Khalil’ — an Iranian American activist and an Algerian artist respectively — and is packed with literal and figurative criticisms against the Islamic Revolution, Ahmedinejad, and the Ayatollah. They are depicted variously as vultures, scarecrows, and at one point, even as cannibalistic machines intent on “feeding their morgues.” So, it comes as no surprise that both the author and illustrator have chosen the protection of pseudonyms.”

HUSH: A silent comic from Manta Ray

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Originally appeared in The New Indian Express on January 1, 2011.

GRAYS THAT SPEAK

Cover of HUSH

Bangalore is abuzz with comic book entrepreneurs and Prateek Thomas and Dileep Cherian are the newest kids on the block. Friends from their mechanical engineering days, Thomas and Cherian teamed up in August 2009 to co-found their publishing company Manta Ray, in response to the “restlessness bug” (as Cherian put it) they both felt in their lives. For the last six months, the duo, along with artist Rajiv Eipe, have been quietly working to produce their debut comic Hush which was released on December 22.

Hush is a short silent comic written by Prateek Thomas with art work by Rajiv Eipe. A rather dark story, the comic explores the themes of child abuse and violence with a twist at the end. It’s a decidedly adult story – even though its protagonist is a young child named Maya. The story opens in a classroom. The blackboard has been shattered by a bullet, a teacher lays slumped on the floor and Maya, grim and dark, holds the smoking gun. School shootings are not readily associated with India and Thomas agrees. “It’s more of a story teller’s device,” he contends but then points out the recent news items that brought light to the gun culture in India and the school shootings in Delhi. Although the concept is not entirely alien to India, Thomas contends that it is “the presence of American pop culture in India” that makes us associate school shootings with the West and more so with Columbine.

The most memorable aspect of the story is Eipe’s visuals. The grey tones are startlingly mournful making Maya appear as angsty as a teenage nightmare. To Eipe’s credit, he uses the grey-tones effectively to communicate time lapses and flashbacks. For example: every time Maya flashes back, the panel borders turn black; black signifying both the darkness of the event and the more visual clue informing the readers that we’re no longer in the present time. It’s one of those stories that will have you flipping back and forth as you connect the dots and make sense of the non-linear story line.

Despite being pitched as a ‘silent comic’ there are plenty of words in the book itself. The first few pages contain dedications and a short excerpt written by Rahul Bhatia who speaks about the themes involved in the story. At the end of the book there are excerpts from the script as written by Thomas and used by Eipe to render the story. The idea behind including the script, says Thomas, was to show interested readers the process the duo followed while creating the comic. “As a writer, I never knew what comic scripts looked like,” Thomas confesses and so he thought it would be both educative and interesting for other fans to see what the process looked like and how much or how little the story was changed by the artist’s interpretation.

Publicising the project on Facebook and other social media networks is almost a norm for indie-publishers and creators. So, Manta Ray duly set up their Facebook Page replete with updates, teasers and pictures of their project. However, they added one more interesting component to their publicity material: three short animated videos that act as trailers or teasers to the project itself. Rajiv Eipe did both the animation and sound design for the trailers, which are all under a minute.

Priced at Rs.195, the comic is available only in print currently and can be ordered from Dial-A-Book at 09650-457-457. It’s also available at Landmark, Oddyssey and Reliance Time Out as well as Flipkart.com. Manta Ray currently has a limited series of individual stories with no recurring characters in the works to be released in 2011 and aimed at young adults. 

‘MISS MOTI’- Nepali artist blends Mithila art with modern storylines.

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Originally appeared in the New Indian Express on December 04, 2010.

A GORGEOUS PEARL OF A COMIC

Not since Manjula Padmanabhan’s iconic Suki has a female cartoonist created such an endearing and enchanting character as Kripa Joshi does with Miss Moti. Relatively unknown and relegated to the murky realms of the internet, Miss Moti is a pearl waiting to be discovered. Startlingly flat and rich in colour, Miss Moti follows the travails of a Rubinesque woman whose fertile imagination transforms even the most mundane of her surroundings into a fantastical world of possibilities that blur the line between reality and imagination. . Miss Moti- as her name suggests- is a gorgeous, round pearl of a woman.

For this, Miss Moti has only to thank her creator Kripa Joshi. A native of Kathmandu, Kripa Joshi’s credentials are promising. In 1997 she won the Indian Council of Cultural Relations Scholarship to pursue a BFA in Painting from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda and later went on to win the Fulbright Scholarship. As a Fulbright Scholar, Kripa enrolled at the School of Visual Art in New York. It was here that Miss Moti came into being. “I’ve always had issues with my own body image. I still do. It is a constant struggle, which I am sure is the case with a lot of women,” Kripa confesses and the issue found its way into a painting entitled Hippo. Miss Moti makes her first appearance in the painting which is a visual commentary on the modern idea of ‘beauty’. The 14”X17” painting on Nepali handmade paper depicts a pool scene where a large woman – Miss Moti – wrapped in a towel self-consciou

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sly surveys the lithe bodies around her. In contrast, the border is decorated with miniature hippos- happy, happy hippos, one might add- painted in gold lines as they wallow in the water, seemingly indifferent to concerns about their own body image.

Speaking about the border art Kripa says, “I drew my inspiration from the Miniature Mughal Paintings where we often see a colourful intricate image surrounded by an equally intricate golden border filled with plants and animals. I was also intrigued by this idea of a dual story between the main central image and the border.” It was here that Kripa’s modern sensibilities collided with folk art and this collision resulted in her debut comic character, Miss Moti.

Stylistically, the art is inspired from Mithila art- a form of folk art traditional to Nepal and Bihar. “The art is very flat,” Kripa explains. “It’s two-dimensional and has no horizons, no sense of perspective.” She was drawn to it also because of its decorative aspect and rich colours while at the same time she recognized the need to develop this indigenous art from and take it one step further.

In terms of narrative, Kripa names Windsor McCay’s Little Nemo as her inspiration for creating the fantastical dream worlds that Miss Moti escapes to and Chris Ware for developing her visual language.

There are no captions or bubbles in Kripa’s comics. A purely visual journey, the only words one comes across are sounds. “I like to use Nepali sound effects,” Kripa says and then adds, “Like when a door shuts, I’ll say ‘dham’ instead of ‘bang’ or the sound the train makes is ‘kattak-kattak’.” These little notes add flavour and authenticity to her story lines and connect it back to her South Asian roots.

Interestingly, in recent years, Madhubhani or Mithila folk art has become something of a rage with foreign art collectors. It was reported that even Michelle Obama bought a Mithila painting on her recent visit to India. A 2500-year old tradition, Mithila art covers the walls and ceilings of Mithila homes in Nepal and neighbouring Bihar, where the art came to be known as Madhubani. Traditionally, Mithila art was created anonymously by women and depict every day life in the village as well religious symbols, Gods and Goddesses.

Kripa Joshi is the only artist who has successfully married this timeless traditional art form with the more modern genre of comics. Each comic is visually rich and narratively sound. In Miss Moti and Cotton Candy, for example, Miss Moti faces the arduous task of climbing up a never-ending flight of stairs. Huffing and puffing, she pauses to catch her breath when she spies a young girl skipping up the stairs with a stick of cotton candy. Suddenly, her world transforms and the cotton candy, those great fluffy wisps of cottony pink, arrive like a chariot to carry Miss Moti away on an adventure in the skies. As always, once she returns to the ‘real world’, neither Miss Moti nor the reader can be sure if it was all really just in her imagination.

Miss Moti And Cotton Candy

While Miss Moti has been received well in the artistic circles, it is not the only comic that Kripa has created. In an attempt to address issues that Nepali rural folk face, she created the comic Pass It Along– a short comic about sanitation. Besides that, she’s done several illustrations of children’s stories in her unique style. Some of the stories she has re-imagined are Edgar Allen Poe’s The Sleeper, The Ant and the Grasshopper and The Dog and His Shadow.

Kripa’s work can be found at www.kripakreations.com and Miss Moti is at www.missmoti.com . She currently lives and works out of London.