American Artist Says Comic Books Can be Political - The New Indian Express

American Artist Says Comic Books Can be Political

Published: 20th August 2014 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 19th August 2014 11:18 PM

BANGALORE: Seth Tobocman, the well-renowned graphic artist from America, has championed many radical causes. His comics delve into subjects that are real — be it political unrest, global warming or monetary crises. On August 21, this artist, who is best known for his comic book World War 3,  will take part in a visual demonstration at the Rangoli Metro Arts Centre.

It will be a multimedia performance, based on the cultural concert method developed by cartoonist and illustrator, Vaughn Bode. Seth explains, “I will use multimedia to portray various issues of importance at the moment like the Palestinian conflict, global warming, social justice and homelessness in the USA, among others. I will use comic strips and fuse them with PowerPoint slides, and perform the text.“

On life in Bangalore

Seth travelled to Bangalore over a month ago as part of the T.A.J Residency programme, a collaborative project between visual artists and gallerists. This gave him a chance to showcase his sketches on his upcoming comic book entitled A biography of Leonard Weinglass, an illustration of the life and works of a US criminal defense lawyer, and also interact with other artists from the country like Orijit Sen and Appupen. He also took part in a demonstration against rape that took place at Town Hall, a few weeks ago.

“The people in Bangalore are very fascinating. They did not hesitate to come up to me and talk about my work. For instance, two days back, I was drawing the street life around a temple at around 1 am.

Three boys came up to me and struck a conversation,” he says.  Of particular interest to him is the traffic in the city. “Maybe I will plan a comic piece around my life in Bangalore, ” he says.

Art that stirs reactions

His first  political comic book World War 3  came to fruition in 1979 after he and his friend, Peter Kruper decided to self publish. The book became a beacon for anti war propaganda. “I grew up reading comics but then, there came a point when I realised that all comics were similar. This compelled us (Seth and Peter) to create our own book.”  Over the years, the magazine encompassed  more than just it’s initial premise.

Seth thinks that comics are a great way to communicate and hence ensures his comic books highlight social observations. And he has gone on to publish many other radical works like  Understanding the Crash’ -- a meditation on the sub-mortgage crisis that crashed Wall Street, ‘You don’t have to f**k people over to survive’. Then there’s Disaster and Resistance, that describes the disastrous events of the 21st century: 9-11, wars in Iraq, more .The performance will be held on August 21 between 6 and 8 pm at Rangasthala, Rangoli Metro Art Center.

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