By First Hand:
‘First Hand’ is an anthology of non-fiction graphic narratives – the first of its kind in India – that narrates the stories of people whose voices have been lost in the drone of 24-hour news channels. It may be a comic, but ‘First Hand’ does not have any cape-clad superheroes or cackling super villains. Rather, it shows the lives of real people and reflects on the extraordinary and often heart-breaking circumstances of their lives; be it personal struggles, or social and political injustice.
Writers, artists, reporters, researchers, designers, anthropologists, academicians, and film-makers have come together to lend their experience, knowledge and craft to bring alive in illustration stories that have too often been reduced to numbers and statistics. The book gives many different points of view through which we can look at reality, unfiltered and unfettered by the politics of mass media and governance.
For example – ‘Effects of RTI’ (picture above) is about the murder of a young boy for simply filing an RTI application, and ‘The Nawab’ (pictured) is about the life of Nawab Rajendran (1950 – 2003), a crusading anti-corruption journalist in Kerala.
The book includes many such delightful narrations. ‘One Step Forward, Two Steps Back’ by Dhwani Shah, describes the protagonist’s experience of visiting Pissurlem, a Goan village, where the natural landscape and lush beauty became a victim of mining companies that were allowed to dig beyond the permitted depth. ‘The Girl Not From Madras’ is a reportage piece about the abduction, rape, forced marriage and eventual rescue of a young woman from Assam. ‘The Edge of the Map’ is a documentation of how people are displaced by large-scale development projects in Jharkhand and Odisha; a narrative interspersed with quotations and commentary by people actually affected by these projects.
Over the course of two years, artists and writers have been working to pull this book together- of which many of the writers are working with this medium for the first time! They chose this medium because by using images to tell stories it brings these urgent narratives closer to the reader, reminding us that they are happening here and now.