Comics through the years

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 - 8:17am IST | Agency: dna

On Friday, as part of the Godrej India Culture Lab, Delhi-based comic book artist Vidyun Sabhaney and her collaborator Shohei Emura, a Japanese Manga artist also based in Delhi, will conduct a talk on Indian visual storytelling traditions.

Vidyun and Shohei have researched three forms of traditional forms as part of a research funded by a grant from the India Foundation for the Art.

“We have spend the last year and a half studying three forms of Indian storytelling: Togalu Gombeyatta, Bengali Pat painting and performance, and Rajasthani Kaavad. Each has a unique format, images as well as particular stories that are told in these regions,” Vidyun says.

At the talk, the creators will take audiences through the three styles, talking about their unique features, what kinds of stories they tell and how they are different from each other. They will also talk about adaptations that have occurred in the styles over the last 20-30 years. The duo will give a short preview of the travelogue comic they are developing, based on the project’s research process.

The main difference that one sees in traditional and modern storytelling styles, Vidyun explains, is that the modern practice of comics is annonymous for creators. “They do not know the audience, but the traditional styles are more personal, and the storyteller usually knows the audience well,” she says. Though Vidyun and Shohei have spent much time studying these older forms of storytelling, they make a consious effort not to adapt from those styles into their comic creations.

The reason is very simple, “For a lot for them, it is a question of their livelihood and by incorporating their styles into our own, there is a possibility that we may take away from their means of survival. It’s simply not acceptable to me,” Vidyun concludes.

Togalu Gombeyatta
A form using leather puppets against a white cloth screen with song and dialogue to tell a story. Usually caters to groups of upto 30.

Bengali Pat painting and performance
Combines the use of a pictoral scroll for the setting of the story and a song to take the narrative forward. Groups of four-five people usually gather for thess stories.

Rajasthani Kaavad
Uses a small wooden temple with painted panels which opens up into a wooden book. Stories are usually about the Ramayan or local deities.

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