Grassroots Comics, giving voice to the common people
Grassroots Comics is a relatively new concept that has emerged as a powerful medium for the rural community to give voice to issues concerning them. It is a tool for delivering socially relevant messages to the society by the common masses themselves.
While comics are more commonly found in daily newspapers as a professional means or more often, been looked up only as books for children’s reading, Grassroots Comics give voice for the common people to not only create comics on their own stories but also on issues close to them.
Therefore, Grassroots Comics, as a medium stands out distinctly from mainstream comics for its nature of being created by the common masses and do not necessarily have to be created by artists but by people who are socially aware. Also termed as one of the most popular communication tool for several organizations and people’s movement, grassroots comic is further known for giving new direction to representation of silences, thereby creating a revolution in itself.
The beginning of this movement can be traced back to the late nineties when a group of likeminded people comprising of cartoonists, development journalists and activists conceived the novel idea as a means of using their skills beyond their livelihood and betterment of the society. The medium was well received particularly in those areas with low literacy rates as the stories communicated through this platform were their very own and also because grassroots comics are inexpensive and simple. All you need is your imagination, a pen, paper and access to a photocopy machine for further dissemination.
The distribution of the photocopied comics encourages local debate in the society and unlike the mainstream comics, grassroots comics can be pasted in several locations such as the village’s meeting place, bus stops, shops, offices, schools, on notice-boards and electricity poles or even on trees.
World Comics India
The credit for Grassroots Comics really belongs to Sharad Sharma, who began as a political cartoonist in Rajasthan and eventually developed the medium for spreading awareness on social issues through illustrations. This gave birth to World Comics India, an organization based in Delhi that has inspired the world over to use comics as a tool in telling stories.
With its roots in India, Grassroots Comics has pretty much been adopted in other parts of the world including Tanzania, Mozambique, Brazil, Lebanon, UK, Finland, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. These countries have numerous non-governmental organization activists, institutes, government departments and several individuals using grassroots comics to voice their issues.
As per the information given in their World Comics India website, around 500 comics workshops have been organized so far. Significantly, most of these workshops were organized in remote and conflict areas of South Asia for activists working in NGOs and involved with various movements working in the area of Human Rights, Children’s Rights, Farmer’s issue, Tribal’s Rights, Youth Issues, Disability, Peace & Conflict. Apart from these, a number of Mass Communication, Journalism and M.A in Social Work students have also been trained in such workshops. World Comics India has further set foot in Kashmir University, Marathwada University, Kushabhau Thakre University-Raipur, Tezpur University, Delhi University, Mumbai University, Gauhati University, Mizoram University among others.
Grassroots Comic Making Workshop in Nagaland
Grassroots Comic Making Workshop will feature as an interesting run-up event to the Kohima Summit this August with India Water Portal as the main partner. The three day workshop to be held from 27th to 29th August, 2013 at Jubilee Memorial Hall, will give the opportunity to young people to explore the innovative medium and express themselves through comic strips.
The Sustainable Development Forum Nagaland (SDFN) believes that this will be an interesting way to get the youth to talk or express their opinions. The workshop is focused on the youth who have interest in issues of development and are further drawn towards making their ideas known in their area of influence.
Although the number of participants is limited to twenty, if the grassroots comic making workshop is a success, more of such workshop is on the pipeline by way of training trainers in order to explore the medium for the betterment of the society. The one-of-a-kind workshop will discuss on the focus of the campaign, followed by construction of comics through visual storytelling and added texts, creating storylines and characters on the chosen focus, etc.
Sustainable Development Forum Nagaland.