IIT Gandhinagar to organise “Comics Conclave” with renowned graphic artists

IIT Gandhinagar to organise “Comics Conclave” with renowned graphic artists

With an aim to bridge the gap between academia and the world of storytelling through comics, the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN), in partnership with its Social Action and Policy Lab, supported by the UNICEF, is going to organise “Comics Conclave” on its campus on January 21-22, 2023. The two-day Conclave is lined up with a series of exciting talks and interactive sessions with celebrated graphic novelists, artists, filmmakers, and academic scholars.

Orijit Sen, Graphic novelist, artist, and designer, is going to talk about the ‘Story behind River of Stories’ and his current projects; Amruta Patil, Graphic novelist and artist, will be delivering a talk on ‘Graphic Movement’; Sarnath Banerjee, Graphic novelist, artist, and filmmaker, will engage in a dialogue on ‘Water Wars in Delhi’; Pinaki De, Comics scholar, educator, and designer, is going to discuss ‘The Sketchbook of Satyajit Ray and a Missed Encounter with Comics’; Nikhil Gulati, Graphic novelist, will give a talk on ‘Time Travel through Comics: Exploring India’s Past’; Debkumar Mitra, Founder and editor of Longform Collective, educator and painter, will deliver a talk on ‘Longform Story: the Long and Short of It’; and Gayatri Menon, Design educator, researcher, and artist, will discuss ‘Traditional Indian Storytelling’.

They will be joined by academic scholars and faculty members of the discipline of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) and Cognitive Science at IITGN, including Dr T S Kumbar, Prof Jaison Manjaly, Prof Nishaant Choksi, Prof Leslee Lazar, Prof Arka Chattopadhyay, Prof Deepak Singhania, Prof Madhumita Sengupta, Prof Argha Manna, Prof Ambika Aiyadurai, and Avani Varia.

The event will also witness the book release of Orijit Sen’s “River of Stories” (25th anniversary edition), India’s first graphic novel, on January 21 morning, as well as an exhibition of comics by artists from across the country from 4 to 8 pm on both days.

Anyone can attend the event for free by registering on the website by January 21, 2023: https://art.iitgn.ac.in/comicconclave2023.html

Sharing the idea behind this unique Conclave, Prof Argha Manna, Artist-in-Residence, and Prof Jaison Manjaly, Head of HSS discipline, IITGN, who are also co-organisers of the Conclave, said, “Alternative comics have become one of the favourite tools to express and narrate memories, socio-political issues, gender issues, environment, history, and many other subject matters that come under the umbrella of academic research. Along with being an entertaining medium, comics have been emerging as a pedagogical tool for critical thinking as well. We believe that the Comics Conclave by IITGN will be able to create a space in which academicians and comics artists/graphic novelists can exchange thoughts, engage in dialogues, and synthesise hybrid knowledge.”

Comics Conclave at IITGN - Invited Speakers’ are below

Orijit Sen is a graphic artist, muralist, cartoonist, and designer based in Goa, India. In 1990, he co-founded People Tree—a collaborative studio and store for artists, designers, and craftspeople. Along with his wife and fellow designer Gurpreet Sidhu, he continues to lead People Tree's design studio—developing projects in-house and in partnership with organizations working in the arts and the social sectors. River of Stories is his first full-length comic. Originally published in 1994, it is widely regarded as India's first graphic novel in English. Orijit is also co-founder of the Pao Collective of graphic artists and chief editor of Comixense—a comic quarterly for young readers.

Orijit has served as Mario Miranda Chair visiting professor at Goa University, where he initiated an experimental arts and research project entitled ‘Mapping Mapusa Market,’ involving students, educationists, and artists. He was also visiting professor at the Visual Arts Department of Ashoka University in 2021-22. His work has been extensively published, exhibited, and installed in India and internationally.

Amruta Patil, is a writer, and painter, and is India's first female graphic novelist. She is the author of graphic novels Kari, the Mahabharata-based Parva Duology (Adi Parva: Churning of the Ocean and Sauptik: Blood and Flowers), and Aranyaka: Book of the Forest. In 2017, Patil received a Nari Shakti Puraskar from the President of India for “unusual work that breaks boundaries” in art and literature. She has recently co-founded a company that works on non-fiction graphic narratives. 

Sarnath Banerjee is a graphic novelist, artist, and filmmaker from India and Berlin. He has published numerous graphic non-fiction from leading publishing houses in India. Sarnath’s published book titles are ‘Corridor,’ ‘The Barn Owl’s Wondrous Capers,’ ‘The Harappa Files,’ ‘All Quiet in Vikashpuri,’ and ‘Doab Dil’. Sarnath is an internally acclaimed artist. His work has been exhibited at Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Sharjah Art Foundation, and others.  During the London Olympics 2012, he produced an art series called “Gallery of Losers,” which narrated the shared history of the competitive sport from a different perspective, for which he gained applause from art critics from all over the world. For the last couple of years, he has been working with Prof. Abhijit Banerjee (Nobel Prize in Economics Science, 2019) at MIT on a project titled ‘Water Wars’ to develop theatrical lectures on economic problems.

Nikhil Gulati loves stories that evoke wonder and inspire compassion. He has written and illustrated graphic works for Puffin and Pratham Books, in addition to writing and illustrating several short comics on various themes. His most recent work, “The People of the Indus,” is a graphic novel on the history of the Indus Valley civilization published by Penguin India. He graduated from the University of Texas, Austin, and the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. His work can be found at www.oddballcomics.in.

Dr. Pinaki De is a graphic illustrator-designer who regularly works for renowned publishers like Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, Hachette, Routledge, Primus, Oxford University Press, Singapore University Press (NUS), Bloomsbury, Orient Blackswan, Worldview, Pan Picador, Simon and Schuster, Permanent Black, Alchemy, Sage, Roli, Sahitya Academy, Rupa, and many others. He has designed almost 500 book covers to date. He won the Publishing Next prize for the best book cover design in India twice in 2017 and 2019. He won the prestigious Oxford Bookstore prize for the best cover design in India at Jaipur Literary Fest 2017 and finished runners-up in 2021. His layout design on Satyajit Ray's archival manuscripts has drawn accolades from all across the globe. A Charles Wallace Trust Fellow, his Ph.D. is on comics theory. Pinaki is one of the editors of the prestigious annual magazine “Longform” (Volume 1 and Volume 2, published by Harper Collins and Penguin, respectively). He is the Indian comics advisor of Mangasia, the biggest-ever exhibition on Asian Comics curated by Paul Gravett for the Barbican, London. Pinaki juggles his creative work with academics as he has a day job as an Associate Professor at Raja Peary Mohan College, Uttarpara. Presently he is working on his book-length work on Partition.

Debkumar Mitra is a comics editor, a founder of Longform Comics Collective, and an editor of Longform Comics Anthologies 2018 and 2022. A mathematics major from Jadavpur University, he researched mathematical biology and dynamical systems. He is a Gordon N. Fisher Fellow from the University of Toronto. He is a visiting faculty at the National Institutes of Design, Debkumar teaches graphic narrative. His interests include graphic narrative styles, visual techniques, the global comics movement, and recreational mathematics.

Dr. Gayatri Menon is a senior faculty at the National Institute of Design, NID, with more than 20 years of experience in design education, research and practice. She currently heads the Design foundation program at NID. She did her two-and-a-half-year postgraduate course in Product Design at NID after completing her graduation in engineering and a short stint in the industry. She conducts courses in Design methods, Design Thinking, Systems thinking and approach, Creativity, Play and learning, Research methods, Visual fundamentals, Design for social concerns, Design for special needs, etc., and guides students on design projects.