It was in early nineties (while working as a political cartoonist) when Sharad Sharma introduced cartoons in few posters made for literacy campaign in Rajasthan, India. This encourages him to produce more such stuff. He started promoting wall posters as a means to spread information quickly, easily, and in cost effective manner. The first posters, however, were really one-page broadsheet newspapers without frivolity lots of text and hard reading. He proposed including some pictures to fit with the stories and interests of the communities where the posters were being distributed. Their popularity soon increased. Before long, the content was evenly split between text and pictures. The participants in training programs appreciated the lessons on cartooning and illustration because they could learn practical and useable skills in a short time.
Soon a number of skill development workshops were organized with several organistions in west, north and eastern part of the country. A number of wall newspapers became part of people's day to day life. India has a rich story telling culture and visual communication inherent in the society, so the Grassroots Comics idea spread all over the country in just few years time. This was still when Sharad was working as a fulltime cartoonist in mainstream media.
After 9 years of experiment and practical work it was decided to institutionalize the activity and spread the method across the globe by registering it as an organisation.
World Comics India (WCI) is a collective of grassroots activists, cartoonists, artists, development journalists, students, using comics as a communication tool as well as medium of self expression. These Grassroots comics are drawn by common people reflecting their understanding of the social world (and not by artists). People living away from power centers rarely have their voices reflected in the mainstream. WCI parallels with the mainstream approach, and conducts several workshops aiming at empowering these voices and bringing out their own wall newspapers. The rich stories nurtured in the workshop are a reflection of the multi-cultural outlook of the society and this inspires us to adopt visual story format in the most cost effective manner possible.
WCI imparts skills to NGO's staff and activists, students of mass communication and social work through workshops on grassroots comics. This in turn helps them develop a better communication strategy in addressing the local issues. WCI through its Training of Trainers programme, produces training manual for replication of Comics Workshop across the globe. It widens beyond the spectrum of grassroots comics through issue-based campaigns, publishing comic anthologies.
World Comics Network
World Comics India has not only spread the idea of Grassroots Comics within India but has also exported it to many countries. In the leadership of Sharad Sharma WCI has helped to form networks in Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Brazil and UK.
In past few years World Comics India has organised a number of workshops in collaboration with several NGOs, people's movement, educational institutes, Oxfam-GB, Unicef, Plan, World Vision, Community Pride Initiative(UK),Viracao (Brazil), Cwish, Hatemalo (both Nepal), Jansansadya (Sri Lanka), Save The Children Sweden, Insan Foundation (Pakistan), Plan (Benin), Swedish Comics Society (Sweden) and World Comics Finland (Finland).
Designed by : Sharad Sharma and Madan Sharma
Programmed by : Madan Sharma
Illustrations: Sunder Mohan Murmu
Additional Support: Subhashree Sanyal, Srinjoy Ghosh, Rajeswari Saha, Siddharth Sarathi,
Prabhleen Tuteja, Anil Vats and Nida Shams
The revamping of this website was supported by the Finnish government's development cooperation funds