Four panels of 3rd December18th to 20th November 2009 Bhopal, India
World Comics India & Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan
DAY 1The workshop was initiated in the midst of amorphous environment. In the first day everything from the space to the children who would participate came into play like an extempore, which gradually shaped itself giving newer dimensions to the days to come.
The participants consisted of children from a private school named GB convent school located in old Bhopal .students from 6th to 12th standard. The heterogeneous group settled down in a nursery classroom in the schoolthat was the first day! The day started with interaction with children. The school had a belief that there would be a drawing competition held. By the time the truth unfolded that it is not a competition the children showed mixed emotions. The chart papers which were brought by them were tore into A4 sheets, which added to our advantage because the stationary did not arrive at time. The workshop proceeded amorphously and beautifully.The word workshop was then fragmented to understand together the language of comics .Fun frolic and learning rather in short masti in the childrens voice in 3 days. Some white sheets were distributed to them and they were told to shade the entire paper with pencil. When the shaded paper were held in front of them any kind of image that they could think of and that was immediately formed in their mind were shared by them. Before every story the base that support it, is an issue or more academically a subject that the story is based on. The images that flooded in their minds were all environment related.
That showed the children in their subconscious mind had thought and related their childhood in the midst of images that they named like pollution, black clouds, grey, gas emission and something bad. Then the next word chalked in the blackboard was childhood. They pondered over the word for a while and distinguishingly named all thats colourful, fun frolic and all thats nice. They showed us that their colourful childhood has been enduring in the midst of all that is. grey in the city of Bhopal. When I say grey here it is not a mixture of black and white but only shades of black some of which are lighter and some very dark.
DISCUSSION OF ISSUE We took the discussion further and talked about various comics they are aware of and the comics that they as participants would be doing in this workshop. While we saw that talking about issues and forming story was a bit confusing for them we showed them wallposter comics sample and they decoded the comics language quickly. Now they knew that the story is not an essay that they write in school but their personal or formed narratives divided into four visual frames. STORY READING SESSION The Bhopal gas tragedy is a history that long lost, unrelated though the children could not see the relation their childhood had in the midst of the environment problems. Like for a particular generation the freedom struggle is a history. They wrote the story techinically all the facts of Bhopal were correct like all history remembered without emotions. But when they spoke earlier what childhood means to them they spoke with lots of energy because they have been a part of it.
It is a learnt and lived fact for them. This was not the same when they wrote about the issue of Bhopal Gas tragedy. We had to break the ice again. When each child read out their story we asked them the source that communicated the story of 1984 gas tragedy. They shared now it was their family members, relative and the school. We drew the parallel lives of the children their childhood after a history of gas emission in the city. Children as story tellers suddenly emerged to be the generation carrying the thought of change after the gas tragedy. They told the story with emotions narrating how their parents and surroundings told them how panicked they were when their lives were in danger. Gradually the parallel generations coincided. In some form or the other whether they are related directly as a family, as a neighbour or may be as a by-stander, they were all victimised. the victimised changed its definition for us when the children read their story and very subtly communicated that they are a part of the genes who demand change. They too want a peaceful surrounding because the pathos of 1984 is told to them at every occasion as fairy tales. For children of this city they remember pathos smoky tales because it is hard to forget history even if the emotions are tried to be subdued by their adult generations in front of them.
Abstract of some stories
Children shared stories of family members discussing the gas tragedy. When one day a son was sitting with his father he asked what is the gas tragedy after hearing the name Bhopal Gas Tragedy in the news. His father told the about the destruction and this discourse if the child and his father was put in visual form later while the participant made the final comics. There was another participant who at first thought of writing a story on smoke. We tried to figure out what smoking as bad habit because he wanted to write something on environment. We asked him if he can associate something with the gas tragedy and then came the final story. The story he penned down was the real story of loosing his father in the incident of 1984, he was there, he was making people drink lemon water, he could survive some couple of years because mother says he did not smoke but then his health deteriorated and he left us he continued speaking as he wrote the compensation received are not much to feed four of us ( three siblings and his mother), and even if the compensation is there my mother still sobs every time she reads or hears about the Gas tragedy. The incident he wrote in the story was of on such
day while watching an action movie the mother saw smokes and related immediately with the incident and then the story ends with the absence of someone very near in the family. For many the 3rd December holiday in school was the triggering effect to form the story. A participant narrated a story where he questioned why is it a holiday on the 3rd of December and then the story followed where her teacher communicated to her about the incident. The stories finally formed brought out the agony and the sense of wonder children carried cognitively even if born after the incident. They were storytellers of the various events of a tragic issue that just completed 25 years history of suffering. They emerged to be the voice of their parents, grand parents and some who might be invisible in the story but very much remembered by them 25 years hence.
DAY 2ROUGH VISUAL SCRIPT Postures and then facial expression were drawn before the children. The participant observers came up from their stool to add to the exercise. They confidently drew some expressions making us understand that they comprehended. What proceeded then was the rough visual scripting. A4 white sheets were given to them and they sketched the visuals and added narrations in four frames. The younger children were swift in understanding the exercise but faced difficulty in forming the dialogues. The older participants of 8th to 12th standard helped the younger ones while learnt the division of visual frames from the younger ones. It was such a visual treat to watch the collaboration of the different age groups in speaking comics language. The rough visual script was prepared with ease and successfully. wallposter comics that was stuck on the wall was referred by them quite often as they prepared the visual script. The comics manual book was distributed to them. They now took fleeting looks in both the manuals and the wallposter around them. Some participants finished their rough visual scripting and were given fresh papers to initiate the final artwork. The measurement was shown to them to help them divide the frame nicely. The first half of the day prepared many participants in drawing four frames looking at the measurement from the board.
FINAL ARTWORK INITIATION Speech bubbles were drawn before them and now children knew the space they have to create for both the visual and the speech bubbles.Some children finished inking (only the visuals as we suggested to keep the the dialogue box empty) while all the others had already grabbed fresh papers for the final artwork. By the end of the day all children had finished preparing the final artwork in pencil while some majority already finished inking the final artwork. The dialogue box now remained without inking for some.
DAY-3We started the day earlier than the last two days. Children were waiting for our arrival at 9 am in the morning at their schools entry gate. As all the children settled we distributed their final artwork and they started inking them. We showed some of them inking again as we did for some in the last day. The black sketch pens were then given to them and black shading was explained to them. They articulated their final artwork with black shading in houses they made, floors, and dresses patterns and around dialogue boxes. For some children whose script was not very long, we suggested them the use the black sketch outline for the dialogue box while some just outlined the four frames.
After completion of the final visual script came the time where they could be suggested titles for their story. Some children were ready to discuss their title, as we finalized theirs we moved on to discussing titles for the others the titles are to be made attractive so the children highlighted the fonts and made small visual gestures to make their wallposter comics look significant and nice. After completion of all final artwork the children made corrections with correction ink where they thought necessary to make the comics better. All the comics were ready to be photo