June 25, 2007

Comic strips a communication tool

Campaign poster made by Bhairoo Lal, 14, Barmer, 2005.
“Well, it is just ink, paper and something to say,” announces a character on a grassroots comic strip. But this simple idea can be a powerful means of communication.
All teenagers know that drawings on school walls and pictures on bus stops, toilets, trees or notice boards can make a statement. Grassroots comics take the idea further and promote the use of local comics as a means for social change.

“The most important thing is to have a good story. You can make a comic strip if you have something to say,” says Leif Packalén, co-author with Sharad Sharma of the newly published book Grassroots Comics – a Development Communication Tool.

Activists, who have very little or no experience in drawing, can in a few days learn how to put their ideas across, using comics wallposters. “It is the story, its drama and how it is presented, that is essential, not the drawing skill. The activists’ passion and engagement in the issue at hand are evident in the stories they produce. Grassroots comics speak a local language, they are cheap to produce and easy to distribute. The strength of grassroots comics lies in the fact that they are drawn by local people who are familiar with the local art and culture. Visual language and sense of humour differ from country to country.

The comics can deal with serious and hard issues, but humour is not forbidden. They often form part of some local awareness raising campaign and the stories address issues like girls’ rights, indigenous people, drugs, HIV and AIDS, or violence against women. The ready strips are glued on the walls of schools or administrative buildings, temples, bus stops, hospitals or trees.

A good campaign focuses on the issue at hand and on the target group. It influences people, raises their awareness, changes their thinking on an issue, and ultimately, makes them act differently. As an example of a successful campaign, Packalén mentions the Rajasthan girl campaign in 2006. Grassroots comics are especially important in the most remote regions of India, where there are no newspapers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This too good a blog and nice collection of experiences from various parts. keep it up !