Upcoming Comic: Water in Gaza

Late last year, we made a comic with Palestinian artist Mohammad Saba’aneh about the water crisis in Gaza. The comic was made for a client, but never got published due to artistic differences and different perspectives on how the story should be told.

Although this is in some ways a ‘failed’ project, as the client was ultimately not happy with the comic, we consider it to be a success as well. This is Mohammad’s first piece of comics journalism and, although it’s not perfect, we think it’s certainly good enough to publish. We’re also proud of the fact that this is comics journalism made by a Palestinian. There’s not a lot of comics journalism being produced by artists in the Middle East (most is made by Western artists traveling there), while there’s enough stories that need telling in this part of the world.

The comic will go up on our website this Wednesday.

Water in Gaza

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Comic Preview: Seeking Justice in South Sudan

This Wednesday, we publish the third comic in our series on South Sudan, produced in cooperation with the Justice and Security Research Programm (London School of Economics) and the World Peace Foundation (Tufts University).

The first comic, South Sudan: Who Got What, explains how South Sudan was bankrupt and at war within just three years after independence. South Sudan: The Price of War, The Price of Peace, the second comic, focuses on the effort to bring peace to South Sudan, and how the peace talks are used by the country's elite to enrich themselves.

Seekin Justice in South Sudan, comic no. 3, is a case study of a neighborhood in Juba, South Sudan, that shows how ordinary citizens struggle to find justice. If institutions of law and order are weak, they can bend to the will of men with money and guns. As a preview, page 1 is shown here:

Preview


Review: Documentary Comics

MickwitzDocumentary Comics - Graphic Truth-Telling in a Skeptical Age
Nina Mickwitz
Palgrave Macmillan US
XI, 187 pages

eBook - $69,99, Hardcover - $95
Available via Palgrave.com

Our slogan is there is more than one truth, because we believe that different people view the world in a different way. This means that subjectivity always plays a part in journalism. Subjectivity is a central theme in Documentary Comics, by Nina Mickwitz. Mickwitz sets out to answer the question if comics journalism can be seen as a genre of documentary. Documentaries have long been associated with audiovisual recordings of reality. And audiovisual recording have, in turn, been long associated with objectivity. Documentary Comics argues that all documentaries have in them elements of subjectivity. This subjectivity starts with the decision of what the subject of a documentary will be, but can be found in almost every aspect of the narrative that is told, or rather constructed, in a documentary.

If audiovisual documentaries have long been thought of as objective, hand-drawn comics have a long tradition of being thought of as subjective. One of the biggest challenges for comics journalism has been to establish itself as a form of serious journalism. In part, this has to do with the tendency of people to think of comics as subjective, and therefore not representative of reality. Mickwitz challenges this notion. In several case studies, she shows how documentaries deliberately use subjectivity to create and steer the narrative in a particular direction. She compares this to how comics use a particular drawing style, color (or lack thereof), the composition of panels on the page, and the representation of sound to construct a version of reality.

Seen through this particular lens, comics have the advantage that they are very transparent in the way they translate reality onto paper or screen. No one will ever argue that a comic is reality, while audiovisual recordings are still regarded by many to be 'real', in spite of many examples to the contrary. Mickwitz shows how both (audio)visual recordings and drawings are, in fact, construction of reality. Once we accept that notion, we can begin to see subjectivity as a tool instead of a hindrance, a tool that can be used to construct a certain perspective on reality. As long as documentaries are honest and straightforward about the perspective they set out to create, this form of subjectivity can coexist with all the demands we make of good journalism. And comics journalism cannot prevent but be clear about the fact that it creates a perspective on reality.

Nina Mickwitz proposes to compare comics journalism to documentaries to see if this framework can have added value for the analysis of comics journalism. What follows is an exploration of the nature of subjectivity, and a breakdown of what makes comics tick.

Documentarty Comics is a thorough and comprehensive book, but it is meant for the serious student of comics journalism. The book is very academic in the way it deals with the subject matter, and will most likely not appeal to people outside academia. The rather steep price ($95 for the harcover, $65 for the e-book) doesn't help either. The subject matter, however, is intriguing and the way Mickwitz approaches comics as documentaries is certainly novel. One thing I missed was having all the comics she discusses at hand. Some pages are reproduced in the book, but the (modest-sized) black and white prints only made me eager to have the real thing to see right away what Mickwitz meant when she refers to a particular type of coloring.

In conclusion: we are delighted to see a field emerging within academic research that is devoted to comics journalism. Documentary Comics is a solid publication that will certainly help further establish comics journalism as something that deserves to be taken seriously. And that's something we can only applaud.

Review by Tjeerd Royaards


South Sudan Comic No. 2

South Sudan fragment

Fragment from 'South Sudan: The Price of War, The Price of Peace'

In April 2015, we published South Sudan: Who Got What, a comic written by Alex de Waal and drawn by Victor Ndula. Over the past months, Alex and Victor have been working on the sequel, which tells the story of South Sudan’s civil war and the efforts to bring peace. The new comic, South Sudan: The Price of War, The Price of Peace will be published on Monday February 8.


Crowdfunding a Comic - Meanwhile in Greece

How is Greece being affected by the ongoing financial crisis? Daily, we are confronted with news from Greece, through multiple media. On Facebook and Instagram, our friends flood our walls with holiday selfies from the Greek islands. But what does Greek society really look like after years of austerity? And how has the crisis affected the Greek people?

Blog

In the series Meanwhile in Greece, cartoonist Spiros Derveniotis (1969) gives us insight into the Greek situation from an altogether unique viewpoint: through a comics series situated in the streets of Athens. In a crossover between graphic storytelling and investigative journalism, the project will delve into a wide spectrum of issues to offer background and perspective. Resulting in a graphic narrative that will immerse the reader.

Born and raised in Athens,Greece, Derveniotis personally witnessed the detoriation of his country. Through his comics, he visualizes what the impact of years of political struggle, forced budget cuts, austerity, and political fiascoes has had on the country, her citizens, and (potentially) the European Union as a whole. For the journalistic cartoon series Meanwhile in Greece, Derveniotis will cooperate with Cartoon Movement, the online platform for journalistic cartooning.

The first episode focusses on the elections of 20 September 2015. How has the Greek political landscape changed after years of economic crisis? How have political opinions changed among the young and old; among the rich and poor; on the left and right wings?  What will the post-election political landscape look like? The players, the agendas, the politricks, all explored first hand and in real time.

This project will be fully financed by crowdfunding. Every contributor will receive an episode of the comic, once completed, by email. Intrigued? Curious about the rest of the story? Support the next episode too! Contributing, then, is basically like walking into a comicbook store to purchase the next episode of your favourite comic.

Perks of support:

- Every backer will receive the episode of the comic by email.
- When contributing €50 or more, your name will be mentioned in the cartoon (if you want).
- When contributing €100 or more, you will receive a personal online avatar;
- When contributing €250 or more, you will receive a hand drawn portrait sent to you by post.

Click here to support our campaign.


Comic: 'I Wished For My Child's Death'

Announcement 2nd comic

Over the last six months, we have been involved in the production of four comics on post-election violence in Kenya and Ivory Coast for Justice Hub. Two weeks ago, we published the first of these comics and on Wednesday we will publish the second, about a woman struggling to love her child, who was conceived in a gang rape. The comic is based on an interview by Jack Owiso and is drawn by Kenyan comic artist Victor Ndula.


Comic: 'I Looted and Burned'

Victor_Ndula

Over the last six months, we have been involved in the production of four comics on post-election violence in Kenya and Ivory Coast. These comics were commissioned by Justice Hub and had their first publication there, but they will also be published on Cartoon Movement in the coming weeks. On Wednesday, we publish the story of Calvins, a young father of two who became a looter after the 2007 election result in Kenya.


Comic: South Sudan Explained

Cover

Our most recent comic was produced in cooperation with the Justice and Security research Programme of the London School of Economics. Written by Alex de Waal, who many consider to be one of the world’s leading experts on South Sudan, and drawn by Victor Ndula, one of Africa’s leading comic artists as well as editorial cartoonist for the Nairobi Star, the 8-page comic explains how South Sudan was bankrupt and at war within just three years after independence.

The comic is an innovative approach to present academic research to a broader audience. It will be published on Cartoon Movement on Wednesday April 15.


Comics Journalism Exhibition in Amsterdam

ComicsjournalismThe Amsterdam Press Museum is hosting an extensive exhibition on comics journalism, featuring Dutch and international examples. The exhibition is one of the first in the Netherlands to focus exclusively on comics journalism as a distinctive from of journalism, an indication that this branch of reporting is gaining ground in the Netherlands and in Europe.

Cartoon Movement is also represented. On display is Dan Archer's interactive comic on the 2007 Nisoor Square shootings. Published back in 2011, this comic still is a great (if experimental) example of what is possible through graphic storytelling.

The exhibition will be on display until March 1st. The Press Museum is located here and is open daily (except for Mondays).


Infocomic on the Election of ICC Judges

InfocomicThe International Criminal Court will elect six new judges in December, in a process that is certainly not as straightforward as simply casting a vote. Justice Hub asked us to create an infographic that would explain the importance of these elections and would show the complexities involved.

We came up with an infocomic, a crossover between a comic and an infographic, made by Nicaraguan comic artist Pedro X. Molina, which tells the story of the elections in a lighthearted but informative way.

Part 1 of the infocomic is published today. Part 2 will be online next week.