Inkers and Thinkers 2014: #ResistComics: Online Activism and Collaborative Comics by Can T Yalcinkaya

We are on the homestretch now. Our final session was titled Beyond Literature and focused on the different uses for the comic book format. Can Yalcinkaya starts us off with a look at comics as a form of resistance through his project #ResistComics, which has since been successfully funded through Kickstarter.

 

#ResistComics: Online Activism and Collaborative Comics

There is now a substantial amount of literature on the role of social media on the organisation of revolts and mobilisation of protesters in the past few years, particularly during the Arab Spring of 2011. In authoritarian states where the local media are often censored, the social media have been invaluable for dissenting voices to be heard, and for spreading the news that were not published or broadcast on other channels. This paper explores the possibilities provided by the social and participatory media to create collaborative works of art as part of political movements. In particular, I use a work-in-progress comics anthology as a case study which features collaborative works by contributors from across the globe.

The paper will reflect on my own experiences of online activism as a Turkish-born Sydney-based academic following the mass demonstrations in Turkey in June 2013, known as the Gezi Resistance. “Online activism” was the only possible outlet for me to contribute to the protests against an oppressive government and police brutality. The idea for a comics anthology was inspired by a creative explosion that was associated with the Gezi Resistance, and by previous examples of comics with activist contents, such as Occupy Comics. As a group of writers, academics and artists, my collaborators and I used the social media to organise, to workshop ideas and scripts and to find other enthusiastic contributors. Our project #ResistComics was born out of this transnational conversation and collective thinking. Currently, the project is near completion and we are preparing a crowdfunding campaign to fund printing.

This paper delivers an account of the #ResistComics anthology’s creation process, with particular attention to what opportunities and challenges are posited in a collective work produced through online communication. It also reviews the project’s crowdfunding experience within a creative economy framework, and questions whether online technologies have made it easier for alternative and independent publications to meet production costs and reach an audience.

 

Biography

Can recently completed his PhD thesis “Wounds of Difference: Melancholy in Turkish Film and Popular Music” in the Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies department at Macquarie University. Can worked as an editor of a comics studies journal in Turkey called Yeni Seruven between 2006 and 2007. The journals aim was to publish a semi-academic journal in Turkey, where comics studies is a neglected area.

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