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Art activism in India through comics

Enlightenment is the foundation of both activism and art. Language and cultural boundaries can\’t stop art from communicating important messages. For effective organizing, creativity is necessary. It enables activists to devise novel strategies, goals, and methods to keep campaigns interesting and effective. Activism is simply about taking action to promote social change; this can happen in a variety of methods and forms. In India, comics have long been associated with expressions of national and religious identity. They can operate both as propaganda (Ideological messages) and as critique.

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Comics and graphic novels have successfully developed as different creative form that communicates perspectives while considering the relevant cultural context since they are caught between literature and art. In India, the earliest instance of anything that looked like a comic book initially appeared in 1947 when famous Telugu film producers B Nagi Reddy and Aluri Chakrapani published Chandamama to teach Indian youngsters more about their rich culture. However, it was with the Amar Chitra Katha comic book series that India formally ventured into the comic space in 1967. It has taught youngsters about their culture, heritage, and historical past since 1960\’s.

\"\" Comics timeline of India; Courtesy: Media India Group

We can see comics as a quick way to get a message across as it serves visuals with texts that form a story. A new generation of comic book creators, illustrators, and graphic novelists has been delving into Hindu mythology since the late 1990s. While some of them support gendered nationalist notions, others provide some room for criticism. Our publishers have published both action-driven and affect-driven comics. They have not only focussed on knowledge but with time also criticized the social phenomenon with their comics. Authors and artists mostly take on social and political issues in a critical way. Comics give them a platform to show their vision sarcastically and it also let them understand it to a large mass.

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Comics have been used by both external (NGO, transnational organizations) and internal (Grassroots, community organizations) to address issues of political violence and justice. ‘Priya’s Shakti’ by Ram Devineni talked about the fear that women had after Nirbhaya’s case while another comic ‘Drawing The Line’ comments on our society’s perspective about women and girls. With the digital growth of media many artists have got spaces to show their view or express their angst against politics, caste and gender-based discrimination, violence and many such subjects. Digital media has not only enabled many new artists to express but also given the freedom to many. Like all comics, Indian comics have a history of being inspired by pulp literature. While Indian comics continued to focus on issues of socio-political and sexual exploitation, comic culture in the West shifted with demand towards sci-fi.


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After almost three years, the legendary Comic Con, which features pop culture goods, cosplay contests, comic book artists, and gaming, has returned to the nation\’s capital. Delhi Comic Con, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary, will have \”the largest creators section\” ever at this year\’s event, with over 20 notable Indian and foreign artists and writers displaying their work. The Indie versions, like DeCAF, are entirely focused on the art form and its practitioners, unlike Comic Con India, which is a localized version of its well-known international counterpart and focuses on the celebration of the pop culture around comics with a concentration on cosplay and commercialization.

Just landed in London here for a few hours before the next leg to India! Watched the Maradona documentary on the plane. He’s a famous Argentinian soccer player The politics, nationalism and everything involved with soccer on the world stage is on display. pic.twitter.com/u1fq3sOaaZ

— Matt Hawkins (@topcowmatt) December 7, 2022

The Delhi Comic Con will get underway on December 9 till December 11 at the NSIC Exhibition Grounds in Okhla. International Comic-Con will return on July 20-23, 2023 in San Diego.

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