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Graphic Journalism by Dan Archer

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Nepal

RTV Interview

Last night I was interviewed about my work, graphic journalism, human trafficking as well as the Graphic History of the Honduran Coup (blast from the past, back from 2009) on RTV’s “Breaking the Set”. You can watch the segment here. I’m on at 14:45 mins.

New Comic on BBC News Today!

Click here to read the fruits of my labours investigating human trafficking out here in Nepal in the form of the BBC’s first dabble with graphic journalism. Please share the link – the more of this we can get Auntie to publish, the better.

We the Audience pt 2

Following on from the last post. Hit “previous” to head back to the start.

Maoists 1, taxis 0

Just stepped out of a mildly harrowing cab ride through the city. Little did I know when I headed to Lazimpat (north KTM) this morning that there was a massive Maoist rally happening in Ratna park, the Central Park of sorts. You get used to strikes round here as you’ll probably have noticed, but after 20mins bumper to bumper this seemed different. Eventually once we trickle past new rd me and my increasingly distraught driver see why-they’re siphoning off cabs into a different land and forcing them to pull over (after that I couldn’t see what was happening).not the best augury that as we were stuck in traffic random other drivers with Maoist flags sticking out of their trucks were shouting “why are you working today?” at the driver, or “where are you going?”. My driver does his best to argue but more and more folks stand in front of our car until we’re forced into a different lane. Eventually the cars ahead clear and we see the hold up-an impromptu checkpoint of yet more flags and red and shouting. As we pull up they see the cab and literally swarm it, shouting and hitting the car with their palms. My driver panics. All I can make out is “bideshi bideshi bideshi” (foreigner). There must be 40 people around the car at this point. The more the driver revs the engine and guns the clutch, the more they push back. A nearby smear of blue out the corner of my eye is a traffic cop who’s trying disinterestedly to hold more folks back. More banging and they’re right up by the windows, looking in and laughing. The driver slams his foot down and we’re out the other side, into a deserted intersection. “Many many problems here” my driver tells me, still sweating as he shakes his head.

A Night at the Circus (Kathmandu)

Episode 2 of the prologue to my graphic novel on human trafficking in Nepal. Hit the “previous” button to read yesterday’s strip.

Hard Copy

Seeing this made me get nostalgic for those weird bits of green string with the silver bars on each end. Do they have a name? Answers on a postcard.

At the risk of turning into the nepali equivalent of Victor Meldrew (non-Brits google him), it’s time to continue my weekly diatribe about the perils and pitfalls (with an equal if not higher number of pinnacles, fair enough) of living in Kathmandu. Today’s special? Bureaucracy. Paperwork. Dog-eared folders brimming with what looks like greaseproof paper because it’s been thumbed so many times. Staplers, hole punches, those weird sponges that are moistened so you don’t have to go to the trouble of licking your preferred digit – these are the weapons of mass procrastination that put paid to the idea of any visit to a government/commerical/private/building with a roof being a short one. In a conversation over tonight’s daal bhaat I told a friend that part of the allure of Nepal for me at the moment is that it’s like a passionate fling. Previously, life in California/London was more of the stable, you-know-what-you’re-getting-type relationship (and before you ask these are purely¬†hypothetical relationships I’m talking about). You know, like when you arrange to meet someone and they’re there on time (or if they’re late they text/call you); or where the only disruption to your journey is traffic; or when you need petrol you drive to the next petrol station; or when you need to get to an unfamiliar place, you slap it in google maps on your iphone. No no no siree bob. (Perhaps that should be Bahadur in Nepali). Here, you’ll find yourself stuck behind an elephant on your commute to work; narrowly avoid a cow that has found its comfortable sunbed spot in the middle of dual carriageway; consider it lucky if the person you’ve travelled across town to meet is there, let alone on time; see that since last night an entire 100m stretch of road has been napalmed and garnished with a crowd of onlookers, all balding men in their 40s with their hands behind their backs looking like they lost the tender to redesign it and know they could have done a far superior job; and don’t even get me started on the petrol. (That’s a whole other post I’ll get to tomorrow). Anyway, lest I succumb to my own diversionary ramblings, 2 weeks ago I became a fully-fledged, card-carrying member of the nepali press.

The road there was long and lined with the bodies of fellow hacks, their screwed up application forms crumbled under their white knuckles, their 18 requisite passport photos spilling out of their shirt pockets. I managed to tip toe past the carrion, dodging the inky bullets (matrix-style) fired at me by an official at a certain government dept who shall remain nameless (let’s call him Mr K as there’s more than enough Kafka-esqueness to this, as you’d imagine), submitting ream after ream of published work, references, CVs, family member info, how I like my eggs cooked, etc. It also included a meandering reproach about the fact that I’m not a father: “why not kids? Here we get married for children.” Presumably here meant Nepal and not specifically his govt department. Once all my details had been cross checked and I’d duly made the return odyssey to my beaming local photocopy/passport merchant (who dutifully snapped my passport pictures on his phone, imported them into photoshop¬†and blacked out my grey hairs without any prompt) I was dismissed to buy a 10 rupee stamp for the tome downstairs, where of course they had no change. So I bought a cup of tea next door to the stamp place and the more industrious tea seller said he’d come back with my change in 5 mins. Then on to a different office and the entrance, stage right, of two more RPs (to find out what one of them is, and their role in typical Nepali meetings, you’ll need to read this). The first looks official, the other is a woman who as far I can tell popped in to tell Mr Suit Man (MSM) something and decided to stick around and have her 2 cents. She asks about the years of specific publications as if they were the most important details in the world. Then more questions about the work I’ve done. Then I’m told to wait, and when I come back, MSM has only gone and written an entire essay on my application. Then the guy next to him starts talking (where did he come from?) and suddenly my essay is no longer a priority. Smile, just keep smiling. Then back to the woman, this time in her office, which turns out is just down the hall. Do I have more hard copies of this link? No, it was published online. Can you print it out? It’s all online! Ok, ok it should be fine. Ours not to reason why. Never before has anyone ever read my online work so attentively. At least, not directly in front of me. Come back in an hour. “Maybe have lunch” they tell me. Uh oh that sounds like a nepali hour. When I do there’s a little red book with my name on it! Back to room no. 15 (you’ll need to look on your iphone devanagari app to figure out what a “5” looks like, as no one round here will tell you) and its MSM, who’s now taking his turn to sign it. Only he’s like an 8 year old with ADHD and any new person who pokes their head in the door is invited to come in and have a chat! as if filling out my little red book was the governmental equivalent of eating his greens. OK, it’s done – back to random woman who tells me to now sign the application BUT WAIT! Not in black. In red. (Of course). One final stamp later and I’m good to go. Then there’s the small matter of taking my new credentials to the dept of immigration across town to actually get the press visa which is the whole reason I came here. Oh and Mr K will need a photocopy of that when you get it. Thank you for your time and have a nice day.

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