ARTS >‘We owe comics our ability to imagine,’ mastermind of Istanbul’s comics festival says

Mert Şuşut – ISTANBUL

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We owe comics our ability to imagine, according to Alper Sesli, the mastermind behind the Istanbul Comics and Arts Festival, who spoke to Hürriyet Daily News on Sept. 9 about the ideas that triggered him to initiate the festival.

This year, the 2nd Istanbul Comics and Art Festival (ICAF) was held at the Saint Joseph Association Club Quartier and Moda All Saints Church between Sept. 8 and 10 with the participation of more than 10,000 comics lovers.

He said the idea stemmed from a time when he noticed comics were being read by the youth and not just adults around five years ago, starting to develop the ideas ever since then. 

“I said to myself that we are here because of that time when I noticed youngsters were reading comics and that it was not exclusive to adults only. There are people who love comics. Actually, we owe to them [comics] our ability to make imaginations. I thought we should take a break from digital production and revive analog productions,” he added.    

Sesli highlighted the significance of comics among Turkish people, especially in the 1960s, which raised a generation of comics lovers.

“All Turkish people born in the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s have been raised with the culture of comics like me. We read comics like Mr. No, Zagor, Texas, and Captain Miki [Tommiks]. We have been trying to sell the comics that we’ve read and exchange it with each other. But with the technological revolution - known with this name globally - the world passed onto the digital production process.

Everything in the analog world had been abandoned. Actually, analog production just retreated into its shell,” he said.     

The festival also brought together cartoonists, animators, illustrators and graffiti artists for alternative art performances in workshops, talks, exhibitions and autograph signings.

 One participant, Gökhan Okur, who is the CEO and founder of Koff Animation, said they found a chance to come together with their followers who loved their animation movies through the internet and social media, through this festival.   

“We as Turkey are at the beginning of the road when it comes to comics and the animation sector. To enhance the sector, we need consumers. Actually, we need people who are curious about this field. But this curiosity is related with visual culture. We are a society oppressed by humor magazines. So, comics still remain in the background. We are used to understanding a story within one frame. We are not a nation patient enough for long stories,” he added.

Okur stated that young artists could have met veteran ones during these kinds of festivals, while describing the shortcomings of the festival. 

 “Veterans and masters should evaluate the portfolios of young artists. Masters should criticize and detect negative aspects of their portfolios without hesitation. Veterans should even give a review and a feedback to the youngsters’ works during those meetings. There should be a two-way communication,” he added.

Festivalgoer Ulvi Yaman, also an events manager, said the location selected for the festival was fitting, citing it as a reason to why the number of festivalgoers had increased. 

“This year was the festival’s second year, and the number of participants and festivalgoers had doubled compared with last year’s participation. There is a great demand for comics and the culture of comics in Istanbul, especially in Kadıköy [district on Istanbul’s Asian side].  This festival was a great need. It was organized in line with the Turkish people’s needs despite being in a foreign festival structure. So, people can find something for themselves,” he said. 

Another comics aficionado, Kaan Kala, who is also a professional motion graphic designer, said he saw the festival as an opportunity for young innovators and artists.

“The gathering of professionals, half-professionals and non-professionals in this festival is very timely. They can exchange their opinions with each other over artworks. Normally, these young people cannot reach out to veterans but this festival made it possible,” he said.


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