Grassroots Comics as a medium stands out distinctly from mainstream comics. These comics are created by “You and Me”, common masses themselves. Individuals from diverse background have used this powerful medium to express their own self. This has served as one of the most popular communication tool for several organizations and people’s movement. Comics have given a new direction to representation of silences thereby creating a revolution in itself. These comics are easy–to-make, reproduced by simple photocopier and distributed in a limited demarcated area, which invites local debates among people from different socio-economic stratum of the society.
The simplicity of its approach lies in the fact that it just requires a pen, paper and something to say or in other words, requires the lines to speak for themselves.
What makes these comics different from a professional creation is the ownership on the content as well as local settings and drama. The comics are pasted up in all possible locations i.e. village’s meeting place, bus stops, shops, offices, schools, on notice-boards and electricity poles or even on trees. One more important thing in these comics creates an awesome string between the creator of the communication and the readers.
The use of Grassroots Comics is relatively a new phenomenon, after its inception in India it has been replicated in other South Asian countries and a few countries in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe.
|Grassroots Comics Movement
The Grassroots Comics movement started in the late nineties. A group of like-minded cartoonists, development journalists and activists looking for using their skill beyond their livelihood and betterment of the society came up with an idea of using comics as communication tool.
The community and NGOs quickly received it, as stories used here were their own. This medium also becomes popular in low literacy areas.
The easy to understand and cost effective methodology made Grassroots Comics soon popular in NGOs and development sector.
With its roots in India it soon spread to other part of the world. Now NGOs activists, institutes, Government departments and many individuals now using this medium in Tanzania, Mozambique, Brazil, Lebanon, UK, Finland, Pakistan, Nepal and SriLanka.
World Comics India and World Comics Finland have together organized many workshops, exhibition and Trainer’s camp around the globe. The manuals in many different languages are available on their websites.
Around 500 comics workshops have been organized so far. In 2009 alone, World Comics India conducted around 100 workshops. Most of these workshops were organized in remote and conflict areas of South Asia. Creation of small independent groups in the region boosts up the numbers of workshops significantly. A good number of new trainer helped to bring the local issues in forefront in these workshops.
Most of the workshops were organized for activists working in NGOs and involved with various movements working in the area of Human Rights (Johar, AIDA, The Ant, Dalit Study Circle, PWN+, OXFAM, GSDS, Insan Foundation), Children’s Rights (UNICEF, Urmul, SBMA-Plan, Save the Children, GNK, Adithi, World Vision, Samantar, Prayasam), Farmer’s issue (Gram Seva Samiti, Mashroom Development Foundation, Mizoram Artist’s society, GVNML,) Tribal’s Rights (Vanvasi Chetna Kendra, Birsa), Youth Issues (Pravah, Seva Mandir, Aastha), Disability (Aarushi, Ali Yavar Jung, RCI ), Peace & Conflict (HMI, GSDS). Also a number of Mass Communication, Journalism and M.A in Social Work students have been trained in such workshops.WCI has organized workshops in Kashmir University, Marathwada University, Kushabhau Thakre University-Raipur, Tezpur University, Delhi University, Mumbai University, Gauhati University, Mizoram University and many more.
A number of Grassroots Comics exhibitions have been organized in various parts of India. After a number of exhibitions in exhibition halls and press clubs, we moved on to roadside and mobile exhibition. Now most of our exhibitions are by the side of road inside a tent or simply hanging on a string tied between two electric poles or trees. We have also organized several mobile exhibitions.