Comics are commonly known as tools of humour, but in Pakistan and India, artists have another reason for making comics: venting out their angst.
Ramish Safa from Kachee Goliyan, digital artist Babrus Khan, pioneer of online comics in Pakistan Jahanzaib Haque (Jay’s Toons), Adil Hussain from Alid Art and Jugal Mody from India all confessed that they need comics to vent out their feelings.
“The best part about comics is to get it out of your system,” said Hussain during the session titled “The Rise of Online Comics”, held on the second day of the Social Media Mela on Saturday.
“I was interested in politics, so I thought: If I can’t do anything about it, I might as well make fun of it,” Hussain added, referring to the political scenario of Pakistan.
Haque, commonly known as Jay, stated that he started making comics when former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer was shot down by his guard for allegedly committing blasphemy. “I’m a journalist. There’s so much that I can say in a column, but the comics helped me vent it out,” said Haque who is also the web editor at The Express Tribune.
The artists agreed that content of the comics is as relevant as the illustrations, if not more.
The problem comic artists face in Pakistan begin from the very fact that people are not aware of what comics actually are.
“They think it is something political or something that will make you laugh out loud. They need to know about graphic story-telling,” said Khan, who is a sci-fi comic artist with work based mostly on a post-apocalyptic scenario. He added that he has been looking for contractors for four years but no one wants to invest since people believe society is “not ready” yet.
Mody, coming from India – where many have begun to be acknowledged for their comics – is set to release his comic “Tok” this August. “It’s about stoners and zombies,” he said.
The lack of support usually makes it tough for artists to survive in a capitalist society where no one is willing to invest in them. Haque confessed that he has almost given up on comics since he got married, owing to all the social responsibilities.
The Kachee Goliyan team, however, knew right from the start they were in it for the long haul. “It is a business venture. We have now formed a team that does drawings and animations for us. We are in the process of forming a company,” said Safa.
Nuzhat Kidvai from PeaceNiche, who was present at the session, seemed worried about the survival of these artists. “Parents are very hesitant to let their children become artists. There’s also no platform for young kids to get their work across,” she told The Express Tribune.
Kidvai hopes the society learns about graphic story-telling and gives young artists a chance to flourish.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2012.
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