Guardian newspaper launches #OpenComics project

Abike’s story about a Nigerian woman trafficked to the UK for sexual exploitation is illustrated by artist Gabi Frödénby and produced by Benjamin Dix
Abike’s story about a Nigerian woman trafficked to the UK for sexual exploitation is illustrated by artist Gabi Frödén and produced by Benjamin Dix

The Guardian Witness has launched its #OpenComics call out, which aims is to get creators of all skill levels to share comics you’ve created that reveal the personal and political untold stories from around the world. Here’s the details in full from The Guardian site…

Sometimes the most powerful stories demand to be told creatively. Graphic storytelling is increasingly being used to convey emotion, surprise audiences and sometimes, to protect people’s identities. This was the case for Abike’s story, a comic produced for the Guardian to tell the true story of a Nigerian woman trafficked to the UK for sexual exploitation. The graphic story was produced by Benjamin Dix, founder of literary comic agency PositiveNegatives, and illustrated by Swedish artist Gabi Frödén.

Dix says telling Abike’s story in graphic form helped bring the unimaginable to life: “Abike’s story is one of the darkest and most chilling testimonies that I’ve heard. The graphic form shows us that nightmare, not just through narrative, but we actually see it and feel it.”

Now we want to see your work. The Guardian has brought together an incredible review panel; cartoonist, Joe Sacco; human rights campaigner, Bianca Jagger; comics historian, Paul Gravett, graphic novelist, Amruta Patil; writer and curator, John Dunning and Benjamin Dix, who all share a passion for comics and their power to tell important and compelling stories.

Sacco explains why he got involved the #OpenComics project. “The thing comics have is the visceral, visual kick to take a reader to a time and a place immediately,” he says. “They have the possibility, through multiple images, to build up a complete world, be it physical or psychological. They are subversive as few artforms are.”

We’re looking for interesting untold stories from around the world. The subject you choose is up to you – we simply want to see stories that you think are important and that are best told through graphic storytelling. It could be a weighty international issue such as freedom of speech and human rights, or it could be a more personal story about your community or something that affects you as an individual.

You don’t have to be a professional; it’s the story that matters. Though for the more professional among you, do think about entering the Jonathan Cape/Observer/Comica graphic short story prize.

Though we love cartoons, for this assignment we would prefer that you tell us a narrative, so consider the following (and only) rule for entry:

  • Submit one page, made up of as many panels as you like

The reviewers will look at your work and the best content will be published in Observer New Review and on the Guardian site. This assignment will close on 24 September 2015.

• You can share your comics with GuardianWitness by clicking on the blue “Contribute” buttons on this article on The Guardian web site. You can also use the GuardianWitness smartphone app or the Guardian app and search for “GuardianWitness assignments” – everything that is submitted to us is reviewed before it’s published, so please be patient if you haven’t seen your contribution appear. 

 

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a “freelance comics operative”, currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.

John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.

He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.

Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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