Trilokpuri is a small locality in East Delhi, with a history of communal clashes. A group of student volunteers from DSSW working in the community were looking for a participatory medium when they came across grassroots comics. Hence, a three day Grassroots comics workshop was conducted at Basti Vikas Kendra with the people of the community.
Largely young kids and adolescents were engaged in the workshop. They understood the power of the medium and realised that they could use it to talk about even personal issues and problems that need to be discussed. Their age did not affect the nature of their stories, which were hard hitting and spoke of the major issues faced in the community.
A young girl made a comic about how a farmer’s family had to commit suicide because they were under heavy debt which they were unable to pay. A teenager also made a comic about her friend who was married off to an older man, a father of two. It showed that she was probably worried about the possibility of the same happening to her, or someone of her age. Their comics brought to light some important issues that the people living in the area face on a regular basis.
(Report filed by Stuti Rai who was one of the trainers along with Rahul Chaudhary, Neha Raghav and Dimple Prakash)
Kids at MCD Primary School, Lal Kuan had many stories to share. They talked about these stories and learned how to develop comics around them. Being quick learners, it did not take them long to create their own comics which were later displayed and read by everyone present.
Our workshop at MCD Primary Girls’ School, Kucha Chelan turned out to be a power packed one. It began with some drawing exercises, where kids drew different facial expressions, and then each other’s faces. They read some comics made by students at another workshop and got to know about their topic, food, nutrition and hygiene. While initially, they seemed to be confused about the kind of stories they had to write, after some discussion and examples, they quickly understood and started talking about instances from their own life. Once they had a story, they began working on a visual script that would act as a framework for their final comic. The next day, they worked on the final comic, inked it and made it into a wall poster.
After 3 days of hard work, every student was ready with a comic that had been made by them from the scratch. These comics talked about the kind of food that they had and the kind that they should have, a balanced diet, clean and healthy food and personal hygiene as well. Reading each other’s comics, they could learn about various aspects of a healthy, nutritious diet, which was the goal of the workshop.
Two days full of stories, discussions and comics! The two day grassroots comics workshop last week was sure a success. While at first, the artistically inclined participants were majorly interested in drawing their comics, they gradually learnt what grassroots comics is all about, and how it’s less about the drawing skills and more about the story. Once the stories were ready, each participant was asked to read his/her story aloud. The stories and issues that came up ranged from bullying and feminism to caste and superstitions. Every story evoked an intense discussion which not only helped them refine their stories, but also opened their eyes to different aspects of the issue. After this was done, the participants prepared their visual scrips and day one was concluded.
On day two, the participants began working on their final comics. Drawing, writing and inking, there seemed to be a different kind of energy in the air. As the participants saw their comics come to life, the two days of hard work seemed worth the result. The workshop was concluded with all participants displaying their comics and getting feedback from the readers.
The Delhi Comic Arts Festival had a panel discussion on the Use of Comics for Social Change. The panelists were artists from Norway, Brazil, Switzerland and India. They discussed the importance of comics in the society and all of them were of the opinion that comics can act as a very powerful tool for social change.Emphasis was given on the fact that multiple narratives are necessary and more and more people need to generate content so that censorship becomes futile.
The Delhi Comic Arts Festival this week was an experience worth having! Sharad Sharma was among some of the great comic artists that presented their work at the festival. He began by talking about his early days in the mainstream media and how it’s failure to cover the dire conditions in the North Eastern region of the country prompted him to find an alternate medium that brings out people’s voices and issues, which he did in Grassroots Comics. He then proceeded to briefly tell the audience about how it works and how they too can create comics. After which he talked about World Comics Network and ran everyone through all that it has done over the years, since its foundation.
Word Comics Network was one of the exhibitors whose work was displayed at the Delhi Comic Arts Festival this week. The exhibition showed some comics made by people who have been trained by the World Comics Network over the years. These comics throw light on some issues that the people feel close to or consider worth being highlighted. Something that was worth noticing was how different the theme of each comic was, which shows that every person making them has a different story, issue and experience to share, making these comics very unique.