Comics Power- A tool for Democracy

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I first met Nida Shams when I signed up for the World Grassroot Comics workshop held in my university last year. Little did i know that this workshop will change my life completely. I always been horrible at drawing, and i always wanted to draw, Comics Power, gave me the opportunity to draw all the while expressing myself.

Grassroot Comics is not like your average superman or batman comics, it is an NGO working with several countries, trying to get ordinary common people to express their views about different things that plague them. The organization speaks just one language: art. people participating in the event first think of a story, usually something they have experienced first hand and then picture it as a four panel comic. And there is not much effort required either. Anyone can make, Trust me when i say anyone. All you need is a pencil, eraser, black pointer, black marker and a ruler and two printer sheets.

Nida is part of World Comics Network- Pakistan, and has been to the different areas of the country working with scores of people especially women, most of whom are uneducated. The art, then becomes the only way for them to communicate with the rest of the world.

The first workshop that i attended in my university with some of friends proved to be one of the most fruitful and satisfying thing i have done in a long time. The first poster I made titled “Jammed for Life”, revolved around a groom stuck in traffic due to a government official being in town, and when after hours he finally makes it to the hall, he is arrested by the government for getting married so late in the night.

Nida was kind enough to appreciate my lack of talent in the drawing area, and egged me to create more posters. Whether it was my talent, (or the lack of it) that interested people in it, my poster was selected to be displayed in an exhibition held in Delhi this year in June along with 5 other posters from the country. All in all, 30 posters from countries like Sri Lanka, India, UK, Nepal, Brazil and Laos were selected for the exhibition and I am proud to say I was a part of it.

Recently in July, Nida held a one day workshop titled “Being a girl in Karachi”. It was supposed to be exclusively for girls in Karachi, expressing the different issues they have to face. A group of eight or nine girls attended the first workshop. While each expressed different problems they faced as a girl in Karachi, the most common concept was eve teasing.

I wanted my poster to be something different, something which reflected the condition of women, but also something which taught them to take control of the situation instead of feeling helpless. So this poster of mine, I’ll be attaching for you all to see, judge and comment on.

Another workshop on tolerance is to be held from July 20th to 22nd by World Grass Comics in association with Human Rights Commission of Pakistan especially for the youth. With the growing unrest in the city, I think this is a very effective way to reach out to people and make a difference. Those interested in attending, a copy of the invitation card is attached, please get yourself registered as early as possible as the seats are limited.

Till next time Arrivederci

Sidra

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11 responses »

  1. “Whether it was my talent, (or the lack of it) that interested people in it, my poster was selected to be displayed in an exhibition held in Delhi this year in June along with 5 other posters from the country”

    I am so proud of you!!!!! And at the same time, sad..that i didn’t read it before and missed the deadline!!! Oh anyways, i hope you post about the tolerance workshop too, would love to read about it!!

  2. It is really good to see how from a mass communication student to an activists easily adopt this tool. your article provides a good insight of the same. No wonder your comics got such a good feedback during our recent exhibition in New Delhi. Please draw more !!!

    Best Wishes
    Sharad Sharma
    World Comics Network

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