Comics workshop

There's a different way comics -- a mixed narrative form that uses text and images, what American cartoonist Art Spiegelmann called 'comix' -- can be used, and still possess the power to entice, enthrall or entertain: as a tool in development work. Ask Leif Packalen, 54, a Finnish cartoonist. He knows all about using visual story-telling as a medium to transmit information on social issues

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- Workshop New Delhi November 29-30, 2003

There's a different way comics -- a mixed narrative form that uses text and images, what American cartoonist Art Spiegelmann called 'comix' -- can be used, and still possess the power to entice, enthrall or entertain: as a tool in development work. Ask Leif Packalen, 54, a Finnish cartoonist. He knows all about using visual story-telling as a medium to transmit information on social issues.

Founder of World Comics in 1997, Packalen was in New Delhi on November 29 and 30, 2003, to hold a workshop. "Comics have been used for the campaign against corruption and for health education in Tanzania, and creating awareness about the rights of the disabled in Mozambique. In Finland, we are using it to send powerful anti-racism messages," says Leif. Also attending the workshop were Indian artists like Sharad Sharma, Basheer Ahmed, Thomas Sundi, Rosamaliana Ralte and Champa Lal, who have been training people to use comics to build awareness on various issues.

This isn't the first time Packalen's visited India. In 1997 he was in Karsanoor village in Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu to organise a cartoon workshop. The subjects were varied -- illiteracy, poverty, booth capturing, dowry, child labour. The comics became very popular. What started in two or three villages in 1997 spread to around 500 villages.

This inspired an organisation called Charkha into popularising the idea in Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. "All one needs is a paper and a pen, but the messages conveyed can have huge ramifications," says Packalen.

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