In celebration of comics
From Appupen to Malik Sajad, Amruta Patil to Orijit Sen, some of the finest graphic novelists in the country will be at the 3-day festival of comics in Kolkata
When the three-day comics festival, Doing Graphics Stories (DOGS), gets underway this Thursday at Jadavpur University (JU) in Kolkata, “ideology" and not “commercial fare" will underpin the event.
“We want to see comics as a medium of small resistances, if not counter culture," says Pinaki De, one of the four people behind Longform Collective, the Kolkata-based comics platform which is co-organizing the DOGS festival along with the department of English, Jadavpur University.
Fittingly, the festival will see some of the pioneering radical spirits of comics in India and from abroad arrive at the campus of Jadavpur University, an institution that is often counted—and countered—for its anti-establishment politics. Barring a couple of workshops, all the other events are open to the public, who can get to revel in the works and words of Malik Sajad, the Kashmiri graphic novelist whose 2015-published Munnu: A Boy from Kashmir came as an affecting tale of the conundrum facing one of the most militarized regions of the world.
Orijit Sen, who earned his spurs as an artist-activist while participating in the Narmada Bachao Andolan in the ’80s, which later in 1994 inspired him to publish one of India’s first graphic novels, River of Stories, will be present, along with the reclusive Sarbajit Sen, whose work based on environmental issues enjoys cult status in the comics circuit. Ram Devineni and Dan Goldman, the writer and artist behind the comic book Priya’s Shakti, where a young gangrape survivor combats sexual sadism in India, will be back discussing their new book on survivors of acid attacks, while Prakash Moorthy, backed by the heft of his experience as an animator, will give a presentation on marginal comics.
Amruta Patil, known for her issue-based and revisionist graphic novels Kari, Adi Parva: Churning the Ocean and the recent Sauptik: Blood and Flowers will be in discussion with Prof. Supriya Chaudhuri on day one, followed by Japanese manga artist Shohei Emura. V.K. Karthika, who as the former publisher at Harper Collins India brought out a large number of comic books and graphic novels, will be in discussion with Prof. Abhijit Gupta, head of the English department at JU and director of Jadavpur University Press, which is in the process of bringing out an anthology of comics based on the short stories of Rabindranath Tagore. Graphic novelists and artists Appupen, Harsho Mohan Chattaraj and Ram Devineni and Dan Goldman will be conducting workshops.
“Our understanding of comics is heavily influenced by the American Marvel Comics. Yet, there are a lot of European comics, especially the Franco-Belgian ones, with great literary values," says Gupta, expanding on the connection between literature and comics. Since 2003, the study of comic books has been part of the undergraduate curriculum at JU’s department of English. On day 1, Gupta will be holding forth on the Comic Book in Bengal, a state with a “robust history" of comics along with Kerala. “Comics have become a sophisticated literary mode. But the grammar of comics is very different and we have to be trained to look and be visually literate," Gupta says.
Doing Graphics Stories: a Comics Festival will be held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Jadavpur University, Kolkata.