Gezi-inspired comic anthology seeks funding to publish
The anthology will contain stories from various genres, science fiction, romance, autobiography and more, all inspried by last summer’s Gezi protests.It will be one year this week since a peaceful sit-in in Istanbul’s Gezi Park to protest its destruction to make way for a new development snowballed into the biggest mass uprising Turkey has ever seen.
While the mainstream media opted for unabashed silence, social media was in a frenzy. Citizen journalism took to new levels in the absence of unbiased, responsible journalism. New accounts flooded Twitter. Wi-fi passwords were shared across the protest sites. People of Turkey became familiar with words like DNS, VPN and livestream.
Some of the defining characteristics of the Gezi protests were humor and creativity. “The Gasfather,” read one banner, with Erdoğan’s portrait photoshopped over Marlon Brando’s face on the legendary poster of “The Godfather.” Another showed penguins marching with the headline, “Antarctica supports you,” a reference to news channel CNNTürk’s running of a documentary on penguins during the clashes.
With social media the beating heart of the protests and protesters, the designated hashtag #diren (#resist) soon came to the fore. The hashtag was appropriated into many contexts, like #ResistComics (#DirenCizgiRoman), an ongoing project collecting comics created by an international network of writers and artists inspired by the Gezi resistance in Turkey. The project is now getting ready to finish a major chapter in its life through a crowdfunding project in Kickstarter.
Can Yalçınkaya, a media academic based in Sydney, Australia, is the mastermind behind #ResistComics. He is a certified expert on Turkish comics, films and popular music, with a master’s thesis on humor magazines L-Manyak and Lombak, and a PhD thesis on melancholy in Turkish film and popular music. He is also a regular contributor to books, magazines, periodicals, websites on comics and film, while his own comics are published as well.
Gezi inspires comic aficionados
The Hürriyet Daily News talked to Yalçınkaya on the one-year journey of #ResistComics. The project was conceived during the first month of the Gezi Resistance, when Yalçınkaya was in Sydney, involved in organizing a solidarity protest.
“I was constantly online in those early days, writing and sharing posts and articles on the social media. I was really impressed with the creativity Gezi inspired in the protesters and wanted to contribute to it by making comics,” said Yalçınkaya. “I started an online group and invited friends who I thought might be interested in taking part in a comic anthology project.”
The initial thought was to produce an online, periodical publication. “We wanted to get our work out there as soon as possible. We wanted it to reflect the immediacy and ‘nowness’ of Gezi,” said Yalçınkaya. Taking into consideration the length of time for producing comics and the creators involved in the project having day jobs, the idea for #ResistComics turned into a longer anthology both in print and as a digital book, serving as “a graphic narrative record of Gezi and what it meant for us,” or as “‘a time capsule,’ which is how Occupy Comics, another source of inspiration for us, referred to themselves.”
#ResistComics is an international group of writers, artists, academics and critics, hailing from Turkey, France, Germany and Australia. “Some of us worked together in previous projects before and are good friends, but we also met lots of new people through this project,” said Yalçınkaya. “The common denominator is what Gezi inspired in us, as well as our love of the comics medium.” While Yalçınkaya shared the writing duties with Yigilante Kocagöz, Nihal Engin Vrana, Linda Stark, Serdar Kökçeoğlu and Fatih Yürür, Okan Bülbül painted the covers, and almost two dozen shared the art duties. Yalçınkaya might be the editor and the organizer but, he said, “Our editorial process was non-hierarchical, in the spirit of Gezi. We all took part in the editing process of scripts and artwork, and workshopped ideas. At the moment, we are all sharing the responsibility of promoting our Kickstarter project.”
The Kickstarter project, publication of the anthology in English, kicked off recently, and is waiting for contributions from the public until June 19.
An online project from scratch
“From early on, it was clear to us that we wanted our comics to reach as many people as possible. So we decided to publish editions in different languages, particularly in Turkish and English, but also possibly in French and German,” said Yalçınkaya. The Turkish edition most likely will be published through a Turkish comic-book publisher, but the English edition will be published through Kickstarter.
“We want to use the funds we receive to print the book, pay some decent page rates to our artists, meet the costs of merchandise and send our backers their rewards,” he said.
“I have been a fan of crowdfunding for a number of years and have supported more than 20 projects, so I have a few ideas about how successful projects work,” said Yalçınkaya. It’s fitting for a project that came to life online. “None of the collaborators have actually physically met each other during this process and the editorial group only communicated over the Internet,” said Yalçınkaya. “This project wouldn’t have been possible without online tools.”
The anthology will contain stories from various genres, science fiction, romance, autobiography and more. “I think it is safe to say in most of the works there is a sense of humor, as that was one of the main driving forces of the resistance. But there is also more tragic stories and unhappy endings,” said Yalçınkaya. “I think it would appeal to people who found the Gezi resistance to be an inspiring experience, or those who would like to learn more about it. They would find the characters in our comics familiar and identifiable.” Go to Kickstarter.com, and search for #resistcomics. There, you will find options for pledges from 1 AUD to 350. The funders will have a chance to get anything from a digital copy of a selection from the anthology to printed copies, tote bags and T-shirts to a script workshop with Can Yalçınkaya. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter through direncizgiroman account. In the words of Yalçınkaya, “We would appreciate any help!”