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Graphic Journalism by Dan Archer

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Q&A on PBS Mediashift, Kickstarter Project updates, Creative Work Fund Shortlist

It’s been a while, and plenty’s happened: first and foremost, check out my interview with PBS Mediashift on graphic journalism processes and practices. Then if you want the latest issue of the graphic journalism investigation into human trafficking in Nepal that I’m currently working on, check out the updates from my ongoing Kickstarter (ok so the Kickstarter is over, but you can always get issues from the archcomix store if you missed that boat). Those of you who got the last Archcomix newsletter (sign up here if not) will also know that I’ve been shortlisted for the Creative Work Fund for my project on San Francisco’s mentally ill homeless population and their struggle to find housing services. More soon – and be sure to check out partner site Graphic Voices for more about recent collaborations with NGOs (ECPAT and Save the Children). Thanks for your support.

Vultures

Latest comic – delayed by petrol shortages and my local man with a scanner changing his loadshedding hours. Click here to start the story from the beginning.

An Interview with a Former Kamlari, or Child Servant, from Dang District, Nepal

Continuing my experiment of posting from the field, this was sketched directly in ink while interviewing Sharada this morning. For background on the Tharu community, hit “previous” below and read yesterday’s post. I’m finding time and time again that drawing live creates a curiosity and connection with the subject that I just don’t get when I take their photo. It just feels more respectful, and somehow allows the shyer girls I talk to to come out of their shell as I draw them. Especially as they see me with pens in my mouth, a watercolour set on my lap and ink all over my fingers. Off to Mahendrenagar on the far west border with India first thing tomorrow to see just how porous it really is.

20130115-212644.jpg

An Interview with a Former Kamlari, or Child Servant, from Dang District, Nepal

Continuing my experiment of posting from the field, this was sketched directly in ink while interviewing Sharada this morning. For background on the Tharu community, hit “previous” below and read yesterday’s post. I’m finding time and time again that drawing live creates a curiosity and connection with the subject that I just don’t get when I take their photo. It just feels more respectful, and somehow allows the shyer girls I talk to to come out of their shell as I draw them. Especially as they see me with pens in my mouth, a watercolour set on my lap and ink all over my fingers. Off to Mahendrenagar on the far west border with India first thing tomorrow to see just how porous it really is.

20130115-212644.jpg

Project Updates, Upcoming Comics and Ways You Can Get Involved

Happy new year from Kathmandu! It’s distinctly colder than the last time we spoke, around mid December. Hope you all did something suitably festive, family-based and frivolous over the holidays. There’s a lot to catch you up on, so listen up: if you’re new around these parts and want to know more about my Nepal project, then check out this here kickstarter video. What’s that? You missed the Kickstarter campaign but still want to pre-order your copy of my graphic novel? Fear not! Click on the Kickstarter widget in the left hand side bar for a list of the possible rewards you can get your hands on, and then send me the money through paypal instead. In a nutshell, $10 buys you one interactive comic on human trafficking out here in Nepal (including diversions/meditations on the form of comics journalism), $30 gets you electronic versions of all of the comics I’ll be producing out here, $50 gets you a paperback tome, and for $100 you’ll get your very own hardback copy.

If you’re intrigued by the steps I’m going through to put this thing together (as am I, most days), then check out my behind the scenes production blog, where I’m posting wallpapers for your desktop/smartphone from my sketchbook, as well as showing you the different steps of my process. Some videos are to come next month, brace yourselves. A measly $5 gets you access, just click the link for payment details.

You should also check out my buy artwork page, where you can get your hands on original comic art from this project, the proceeds of which all go towards keeping a roof over my head, warm food in my belly, and the D.Archer Motorcycle fund TM (which I’ll need in a few weeks for investigating stories out of the Kathmandu valley). Those of you who ordered prints and art last month will be getting them early next week.

In other news, in a few weeks, to mark the end of Human Trafficking Awareness month, I’m delighted to announce that the BBC will be running an interactive comic of mine from the trafficking project in several different languages. More details soon.

Smashing the Kickstarter Goal and first Nepal piece published by Poynter

We DID it!! Thanks to you, good people of the internet, I raised $13,303 for my project to use comics to report on/raise awareness of human trafficking in Nepal.  Need an introduction to the project? Scroll down to check out the intro video below the fold.

Click here to read the first piece of illustrated reportage (published in the US) from my Nepal trip covering human trafficking, now up on the Poynter Institute’s website.

Interested in my Nepal project and want to contribute/ order your copy of the graphic novel/ebook/or artwork/get any of the rewards even though the Kickstarter campaign is now over, you can paypal me your pledge using dan [at] archcomix [dot] com as the recipient ID. Or, of course, feel free to drop me a line if you want to discuss specifics or a collaboration.

Enter the Naysayers

With the announcement of any new project, you always get the predictable “been there, done that” crowd. Not that graphic journalism’s ever reared its inky head in Nepal (to my knowledge) for that matter. If you’re looking for a link to the Honduran comic, then voila.

What is Comics Journalism? published on Poynter.org

My latest interactive comic is now live at Poynter.org click here to read it in all of its interactive glory.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will also notice that my latest comic on the Hard Hat Riots of 1970 is now available for pre-order via the widget on the right-hand sidebar.

Multimedia Musings

First, a test video for your viewing delectation and feedback: is the speed too fast? Is the text legible enough? Talk about your low-fi setups…

Below is a transcript of a recent email conversation I had with a fellow multimedia storyteller, Bo Soremsky, who put together this awesome interactive piece about a trial in his native Germany. Bo’s Qs are in bold.

People often ask me why i’m drawing pictures instead of taking photos. I’m sure you are familiar with that question. What’s your take on this?

People often forget that photos can be editorialized just as much as drawn images. Personally, I think a drawing is all the more sincere in explicitly revealing that the object depicted has been run through a subjective filter. All too often do readers forget that even a photographer has to crop in/out the elements they don’t want in a frame, and that’s before the editor has their say. Not to mention the possibility of it being tampered with in photoshop. To me, drawn images are the most accurate way of translating what’s in our heads onto paper – crystallizing our subjective experience. Provided a journalist is up front about that, I don’t see what the problem is, beyond the traditional aversion to what’s innovative versus something that’s been traditionally accepted. [Perfect example: Newsweek’s cropping of a Dick Cheney photo in 2009, prompting the longest comment thread ever on the NYTimes Lens blog – http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/17/essay-9/]
Without doubt drawings provide a very subjective view of the subject. So, how do you create authenticity? One answer to that question can be found in your hypercomic: By clicking on a panel the reader gets access to supporting documents. Thats a great way to prove your assertions. But are there other possibilities to convince the reader that you are telling the truth?

Sources are always going to be the key to authenticity, and linking is certainly one of the best ways around that. Incorporating more multimedia, housing multiple, corroborative views together could be another. I don’t think one single “truth” exists – even if you and I experienced the same event next to each other, we’d record and report it differently.

What do you think are the advantages of a digital reportage over a printed one? Does interactivity really help to tell good and authentic stories? Couldn’t it be to complicated and confusing?

I think interactivity is one of the few ways of demanding a reader’s engagement and involvement – readers/viewers get let off too easily these days in the era of clicking off youtube videos or channel surfing. Only by forcing the reader to drive the story can we be sure they are fully committed to the narrative – much like the way agency works in between comics panels to make sequential images seem like they’re part of the same story. It could well be complicated – the key is marrying a compelling story with an intuitive interface – no mean feat! (Not to mention being paid well enough to make it in the first place).

Guatemala, Goldcorp and the Communities they tried to ignore.

At last! A powerful piece of comics journalism on the tragic treatment of indigenous communities at the hands of Canadian mining corporation Goldcorp. Rights Action has done a fantastic job of chronicling the spread of health issues, infant mortalities and suffering endured by communities near the gold mines, which you can see for yourselves here.

In the meantime, here’s the comics piece below – published on Scribd.

Extraction!: Comix Reportage – Gold (Guatamala) reportage by Dawn Paley/ comix by Joe Ollmann

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