Here is a book full of rough lines joined together to form human figures, villages, busy roads, rickshaw pullers, policemen and shelter homes -- each either a past reference or a current reality of life as a homeless person living in the Capital.
“CityMakers Comics” is a collection of stories of destitution, desires, dreams and destinies all entwined throughout the “little publication” that makes you see life the way it is led by people who live on the streets.
“They may be crude lines but they are significant stories,” says Kirti Mishra of Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS) which collaborated with World Comics India to bring out the publication.
Through the comic strip of a carpenter who could not work anymore due to an injury, we see his take on the failure of the agrarian policy that forced him to move to the city in the first place, through the drawings of a 13-year-old we see a story of a girl forced by her mother to beg on the streets, and the stories go on. “These are all case studies as we know it, transformed to fit an A4 sheet,” says IGSSS Head Indu Prakash Singh, during the book’s release on Friday.
With an insight
The comic book is a product of three workshops held in different shelter homes across Delhi which involved 60 participants who were taught the art by comic journalist Sharad Sharma.
“These are not cartoons but comics drawn with the insight and understanding of life as a homeless person and these are not produced in jest,” says Mr. Singh, adding that IGSSS plans to share the publication with Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
“Instead of flipping through a 500-page report on poverty, here is a 50 pager that will tell you what the issues are.”
The tool was useful to many even though they may have been illiterate. “You don’t have to be incredibly well read to make comics,” says a project coordinator.
The process itself seems to have empowered some of the participants. “Even though several of us who live in these shelter homes are graduates, we have not found work. After drawing these comics, I decided not to sit around but go out to search for some work,” says Santosh Bisht, who is from Uttarakhand.
Planned as an alternative project to writing reports on homelessness, IGSSS sees this as an effective advocacy tool, which has already garnered interest from other States.
“The biggest achievement of all of this is that we have started a generation of comic journalists,” says Mr. Singh.