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.

#ResistComics Kickstarter

At Inkers and Thinkers 2014 Can Yalcinkaya presented a paper on his involvement with the comics anthology #ResistComics. The recording of Can’s speech will be released soon, detailing much of the background of the project and the wave of protest in Turkey in the Summer of 2013. In the meantime the Kickstarter to help fund the printing of the book and payment of the artists is now live.

#ResistComics will be a 96 page publication of comics, illustrations, a short story and an article on comics and politics. The anthology collects stories based on experiences of the Gezi protest by writers and artists from Turkey and around the world. A particularly interesting story focuses on the plight of street animals during the Gezi resistance. The page explains the Gezi resistance and its crossover to art:

“Gezi was about reclaiming public spaces across Turkey. With art and with political action. Art was an important part of the Gezi Resistance, because cities aren’t just physical spaces. They are not just buildings and roads, streets and parks. Cities are imaginary places, or places of imagination, too. The meaning of cities emerge in thought, in songs, in novels and poems, in art and of course in comics. #ResistComics is our little effort to reclaim our cities in the imagination. “

As always backers have access to some great rewards including posters, original artwork, and a script workshop. With 15 days left the project is almost at it’s goal of $5,000 and further stretch goals will be announced if they pass that amount. It is great to see a project discussed at Inkers and Thinkers now well on the way to becoming a reality.

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