17 Traumics and Graphic Medicine narratives by Chulalongkorn University students (2021-22)

How do we communicate the unutterable?

When abandoned by words, muted or silenced, Comics Art allows for different strategies to represent -or allude to- ‘invisible/invisibilized’ inner wounds, health and mental issues. These -usually overlapping- meaning-making strategies include, but are not limited to, the narrative use of colors, art/line style, textures and techniques (pencils, ballpoint pen, digital paint…), graphic embodiment of the characters, space-time interplay (space as time; contiguity of various moments/spaces/panels), braiding of visual motifs and visual metaphors, panels’ sizes and shapes, page composition (segmentation, layout, negative space…), text spatialization, speech balloons’ shapes and lettering, multi-modality (text-image dynamic; anchorage/relay, intertextuality), abstraction or suggestion (closure, gap between the panels). More on ‘the interaction between the medium of comics and the discourse of healthcare’, and the representation of (psychic) trauma, can be found on the website Graphic Medicine, and books such as Documenting Trauma in Comics: Traumatic Pasts, Embodied Histories, and Graphic Reportage (Palgrave Macmillan), Hillary L. Chute’s Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form (Harvard University Press), Harriet E. H. Earle’s Comics, Trauma and the New Art of War (University Press of Mississippi) and Eszter Szép’s Comics and the Body: Drawing, Reading, and Vulnerability (The Ohio State University Press) among many other publications.

Harriet E. H. ‘Earle suggests that comics are the ideal artistic representation of trauma. Because comics bridge the gap between the visual and the written, they represent such complicated narratives as loss and trauma in unique ways, particularly through the manipulation of time and experience. Comics can fold time and confront traumatic events, be they personal or shared, through a myriad of both literary and visual devices. As a result, comics can represent trauma in ways that are unavailable to other narrative and artistic forms.’

On Harriet E. H. Earle’s Comics, Trauma and the New Art of War (University Press of Mississippi)

The following 17 ‘Traumics’ (comics on trauma) or Graphic Medicine narratives were produced by Thai or exchange students from various faculties (Psychology, Architectural Design, Language and Culture, Communication Design, Communication Arts, Engineering) at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, during the Covid-lockdowns in 2021 and 2022 as the final creative projects of two of my courses: Imaginative Media, a comparative course on the representation of Refugee Narratives and Psychic Trauma in various media (literature, comics, movies, tv series, dance/choreographies, paintings…), and Visual Media Studies, a ‘General Education’ course mostly dedicated to the study of Graphic Narratives and Comics Art. Both courses include the study of Psychic Trauma and its representations through a series of lessons based on the seminal works of psychiatrists François Lebigot, Louis Crocq and Sándor Ferenczi, and on my conferences on Comics as a Language of Symptoms of Psychic Trauma. All students were made aware of the challenging nature and content of the courses on the first lesson (and could choose to drop the course, or skip the triggering content/lessons); they were free to select their graphic narrative’s topic, but it had to be related to psychic trauma or any other mental/health issues, and to change their topic at any point, if the ‘graphic’ composition felt too challenging. Some stories are based on personal experiences, other are based on research by the students. In preparation of the composition of their graphic narratives, we’ve analysed pages from a dozen trauma-related short comics or graphic novels from the US, Canada, Taiwan, Vietnam, Belgium or France. Along the semester, students worked on various (constrained/experimental) comics composition assignments. During the last weeks of the semester, individual consulting sessions with yours truly were held, one to discuss the first layout and a second to improve some elements of the advanced draft of their comics. Most of the students had no prior art/comics training, and the following stories are usually their very first comics narratives. Most stories reveal the crushing weight of social pressure/conformity in Thailand (and Asia), and that -if comics studies were rightfully considered and fully integrated in the university curriculum- students would be able to produce many more sophisticated and meaningful graphic narratives on social issues and as a means of self-expression and of mindful communication.

My deepest thanks to all my students as they were always fully dedicated to the ‘unconventional’ content of my courses and to the comics assignments they were given. More comics have been produced during these two courses, but some were either redundant with the stories presented here or need some additional editing before publication. More graphic narratives should be published online soon.

These ‘graphic’ narratives contain depictions of domestic violence, sexual abuse and harassment, child abuse, self-harm, suicide, eating disorders, body shaming, [cyber-] bullying, disasters/mass shootings, discrimination, nudity, offensive language, and more…

Reproduced with permission. All rights remain to the authors/artists.


Traumics by Thai student Mint (INDA, Faculty of Architecture). Two-pager comics.
Traumics by Thai student Mint (INDA, Faculty of Architecture). Page 1/2
Traumics by Thai student Mint (INDA, Faculty of Architecture). Page 2/2

Traumics on the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster which took the lives of 250 South Korean students, by Thai students Nattakit Pisitsup [Search] and Panupatr Limprasert [James] (Information and Communication Engineering, ICE; International School of Engineering, ISE). Pages 1 and 2 out of 4
Traumics on the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster which took the lives of 250 South Korean students, by Thai students Nattakit Pisitsup [Search] and Panupatr Limprasert [James] (Information and Communication Engineering, ICE; International School of Engineering, ISE). Pages 3 and 4 out of 4

Traumics by Thai student Khim Kanlayakon (CommDe). Page 1/2
Traumics by Thai student Khim Kanlayakon (CommDe). Page 2/2

Comics by Japanese exchange student Eirin. Page 1/2
Comics by Japanese exchange student Eirin. Page 2/2

Traumics by Thai student Torfun (BALAC; Language and Culture). Two-pager comics.
Traumics by Thai student Torfun (BALAC; Language and Culture). Page 1/2
Traumics by Thai student Torfun (BALAC; Language and Culture). Page 2/2

Graphic medicine narrative on polycystic ovary syndrome, by Thai student Nawara Pongsri [Klai] (BALAC; Language and Culture). Page 1/3 
Graphic medicine narrative on polycystic ovary syndrome, by Thai student Nawara Pongsri [Klai] (BALAC; Language and Culture). Page 2/3 
Graphic medicine narrative on polycystic ovary syndrome, by Thai student Nawara Pongsri [Klai] (BALAC; Language and Culture). Page 3/3 

Traumics by Mooksuda Chingnawan [Mook], Papichaya Indhavivadhana [Book]
Anchisa Asvahem [Ploy] (CommDe). Page 1/3
Traumics by Mooksuda Chingnawan [Mook], Papichaya Indhavivadhana [Book]
Anchisa Asvahem [Ploy] (CommDe). Page 2/3
Traumics by Mooksuda Chingnawan [Mook], Papichaya Indhavivadhana [Book]
Anchisa Asvahem [Ploy] (CommDe). Page 3/3

Traumics inspired by the Victoria Hall disaster (UK, 1883) by Thai student Chawin Sungkhapong [Tan] (International School of Engineering; ISE). Page 1/2
Traumics inspired by the Victoria Hall disaster (UK, 1883) by Thai student Chawin Sungkhapong [Tan] (International School of Engineering; ISE). Page 2/2

Traumics by Vietnamese exchange student Trang Pham (CommArts). Page 1/2
Traumics by Vietnamese exchange student Trang Pham (CommArts). Page 2/2

Comics, inspired by a personal experience, by Thai student Leila (Information and Communication Engineering, ICE; International School of Engineering, ISE). Two-pager.
Comics, inspired by a personal experience, by Thai student Leila (Information and Communication Engineering, ICE; International School of Engineering, ISE). Page 1/2
Comics, inspired by a personal experience, by Thai student Leila (Information and Communication Engineering, ICE; International School of Engineering, ISE). Page 2/2

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

Traumics on sexual abuse by Thai students Anna, Prim, Neng and Gene (INDA, Faculty of Architecture). Page 1/4

Traumics by Thai students Ant, Boss, Daniel, Nuno and Man (CommArts). Page 1/4
Traumics by Thai students Ant, Boss, Daniel, Nuno and Man (CommArts). Page 2/4
Traumics by Thai students Ant, Boss, Daniel, Nuno and Man (CommArts). Page 3/4
Traumics by Thai students Ant, Boss, Daniel, Nuno and Man (CommArts). Page 4/4

Graphic Medicine comics by Thai students Kat, Gift, Anna, Gun, Pleng and Pompam (CommArts). Page 1/4
Graphic Medicine comics by Thai students Kat, Gift, Anna, Gun, Pleng and Pompam (CommArts). Page 2/4
Graphic Medicine comics by Thai students Kat, Gift, Anna, Gun, Pleng and Pompam (CommArts). Page 3/4
Graphic Medicine comics by Thai students Kat, Gift, Anna, Gun, Pleng and Pompam (CommArts). Page 4/4

Traumics by Thai students Nana, Weal, Chacha, May, First and Care (CommArts). Page 1/4
Traumics by Thai students Nana, Weal, Chacha, May, First and Care (CommArts). Page 2/4
Traumics by Thai students Nana, Weal, Chacha, May, First and Care (CommArts). Page 3/4
Traumics by Thai students Nana, Weal, Chacha, May, First and Care (CommArts). Page 4/4

Traumics by -anonymous- Thai students (CommArts). Page 1/4
Traumics by -anonymous- Thai students (CommArts). Page 2/4
Traumics by -anonymous- Thai students (CommArts). Page 3/4
Traumics by -anonymous- Thai students (CommArts). Page 4/4

Comics by Thai student Wasita Uancharoenkul [Fune] (INDA, Faculty of Architecture). Page 1/6
Comics by Thai student Wasita Uancharoenkul [Fune] (INDA, Faculty of Architecture). Page 2/6
Comics by Thai student Wasita Uancharoenkul [Fune] (INDA, Faculty of Architecture). Page 3/6
Comics by Thai student Wasita Uancharoenkul [Fune] (INDA, Faculty of Architecture). Page 4/6
Comics by Thai student Wasita Uancharoenkul [Fune] (INDA, Faculty of Architecture). Page 5/6
Comics by Thai student Wasita Uancharoenkul [Fune] (INDA, Faculty of Architecture). Page 6/6

Comics by Thai students Panpornpach Musika [Pach] and Supharada Hirantrakul [Bambam] (JIPP, Faculty of Psychology), and Darapon Chaibal [Manao] (Faculty of Architecture). Page 1/5
Comics by Thai students Panpornpach Musika [Pach] and Supharada Hirantrakul [Bambam] (JIPP, Faculty of Psychology), and Darapon Chaibal [Manao] (Faculty of Architecture). Page 2/5
Comics by Thai students Panpornpach Musika [Pach] and Supharada Hirantrakul [Bambam] (JIPP, Faculty of Psychology), and Darapon Chaibal [Manao] (Faculty of Architecture). Page 3/5
Comics by Thai students Panpornpach Musika [Pach] and Supharada Hirantrakul [Bambam] (JIPP, Faculty of Psychology), and Darapon Chaibal [Manao] (Faculty of Architecture). Page 4/5
Comics by Thai students Panpornpach Musika [Pach] and Supharada Hirantrakul [Bambam] (JIPP, Faculty of Psychology), and Darapon Chaibal [Manao] (Faculty of Architecture). Page 5/5

Four Creative Workshops (2022)

During the second semester of the 2021-22 academic year, we welcomed spearheading Thai artists Peeraphat Kittisuwat, Faan Peeti, Superfah Jellyfish and Isaree Pipatpongsa who held workshops in three different courses, with the goal of introducing our Inter CommArts Thai and exchange students to new graphic and narrative techniques in order to develop their visual literacy & composition skills in preparation of their final creative projects.


A) “TRANSITION WORKSHOP” with Thai designer & cartoonist PEERAPHAT KITTISUWAT

February 22, 2022. First on-site guest lecture/workshop in 2 years! The Inter CommArts students of my Creative Writing (Section 11: Experimental Comics) course welcomed Thai designer and cartoonist khun Peeraphat Kittisuwat, founder of P. Library Design Studio. After introducing us to his different works (in experimental and live-drawing animation, mural painting, book design of The Art of Thai Comics…) related to his stunning cutout & double-sided non-linear comics leporello in-between, khun Peeraphat invited our students to play with his book’s print proofs to compose new looped graphic narratives by cutting/pasting/rearranging sequences with new “twists”. The 11 students presented their narratives at the end of the workshop, getting comments and feedbacks from our guest. PS: it felt good to get back to a communal creative experience with the students (while respecting all Covid safety measures).


Some works by guest artist Peeraphat Kittisuwat:


Students at work during Peeraphat Kittisuwat’s workshop:


Students’ presentations in front of the classroom, and some graphic narratives produced during the workshop:


B-C) “SHAPE & TEXTURE DOUBLE WORKSHOP” with Thai illustrators FAAN PEETI and SUPERFAH JELLYFISH

March 07, 2022. The Inter CommArts students of my Creative Writing (Section 10: Non-Fiction Graphic Narratives) course welcomed Thai artists Faan Peeti (book illustrator and cartoonist who explored creative panel layouts in her Manustrip series for a day magazine) and Superfah Jellyfish (painter, tattoo artist, and author of challenging old-school zines such as Having Sex First Time and The Intimates). They held two creative workshops exploring the symbolic use of comics panels/borders and body positivity through acrylic painting with markers. These were wonderful and inspiring midterm workshops meant to prepare the students for their final creative project. [All safety measures were respected with mandatory masks, hand-washing, and ATK tests before the lesson for all participants].

Our students with guest artists Faan Peeti & Superfah Jellyfish, and yours truly.

A short introduction, by yours truly, on creative uses of comics panels preceded Faan Peeti’s workshop.


Some works by guest artist Faan Peeti:

Opening of Faan Peeti’s first solo exhibition “Yindee’s Mysterious Friends” at River City, 2022.

Some works by guest artist Superfah Jellyfish:


Pictures from Faan Peeti’s talk and workshop on the creative use of comics panels/borders. Students were then asked to compose an autobiographical or autofictional comics page playing with the symbolism of comics panels/borders.


Pictures from Superfah Jellyfish’s talk and workshop on the creative use of acrylic painting and black markers to address body positivity.


D) “SHŌJO MANGA & RAPE CULTURE” TALK & WORKSHOP with Thai illustrator ISAREE PIPATPONGSA

March 29, 2022. Fourth and final guest lecture/workshop for the semester. The Inter CommArts students of my Imaginative Communication course welcomed Thai artist Isaree Pipatpongsa (Izary P. Pipat). Khun Isaree talked about her thesis Rape culture awareness campaign through the female perspectives and Shojo Manga influences (School of Fine and Applied Arts, Bangkok University), with an introduction to the history of Shōjo Manga, her take on the genre to address the issue of Rape Culture in Thailand, her thesis process and design concepts, and a presentation of the resulting [and stunning] A1 comics digital prints, animation and journey kit. The students then participated in a workshop, revisiting Shōjo Manga pages with various techniques (drawing, tracing paper layers, screentones, diplopia effect, collage…) to reveal insidious aspects of the Rape Culture. It was a fascinating talk and highly meaningful and creative workshop! [All safety measures were respected with mandatory masks, hand-washing, and ATK tests before the lesson for all participants].


Pictures from Isaree Pipatpongsa’s talk, with an introduction to the history of Shōjo Manga, her take on the genre to address the issue of Rape Culture in Thailand, her thesis process and design concepts.


The students got the opportunity to take a close look at Isaree Pipatpongsa’s stunning A1 comics digital prints and thesis journey kit.


Students were provided with relevant manga pages, and their tracing paper versions as well as screentone sheets. Applying various techniques (drawing, tracing paper layers, screentones, diplopia effect, collage, black-out poetry…), they composed new pages addressing the Rape Culture issue and the victim’s traumatic experience. Here are some pictures of the workshop, with guidance by Isaree Pipatpongsa, and of the class presentations and the resulting graphic narratives.

Our students with guest artist Isaree Pipatpongsa.

 My warmest thanks to khun Peeraphat Kittisuwat, khun Faan Peeti, khun Superfah Jellyfish and khun Isaree Pipatpongsa for these wonderful talks and workshops!

“GRAPHIC NON-FICTION IN ASIA” – ONLINE SEMINAR

I’m pleased to announce the online seminar “GRAPHIC NON-FICTION IN ASIA: THE ROAD AHEAD”, a roundtable with comics creators and editors from South and Southeast Asia to discuss their works and the challenges they face in their respective countries. Guest speakers: Bambi Eloriaga-Amago [Philippines], Charis Loke [Malaysia], Sreejita Biswas (Solo) [India], Tanis Werasakwong (Sa-ard) [Thailand] and Adoor Yeh [Taiwan], and moderated by yours truly. On Thursday November 25th, 2021, 4PM (GMT+7) [2:30PM Delhi; 4PM Bangkok; 5PM KUL, MLA & TPE]. Seminar duration: 2 hours. Organized by the National Research Council of Thailand and the Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University.
Inscription to the Zoom session via this link: https://forms.gle/5Gzw3eqpMwqQ2qkMA
[Poster illustration from “taskun mudaan” by Adoor Yeh, 慢工出版 Slowork Publishing, 2021]

Thai Ghost Comics Documentary & Exhibition

DC NAROK: Collective Hellxibition poster by Philippine artist Louie Cordero

Here are the first pictures of Thailand’s Krasue [กระสือ] ghost-witch and of vintage “one-baht ghost comics” displayed at the international DC NAROK : COLLECTIVE HELLXIBITION in Marseille, France. My thanks to our fresh.wo.men students at the Faculty of Communication Arts (International Program, Chulalongkorn University) for their assistance. As part of our “Thai Culture for Communication” course, students translated and composed subtitles for Thai director Santi Taepanich’s 40-minute documentary “ไอ้ผีเล่มละบาท: Damn Ghost Comics” screened during the exhibition (and also available online). The documentary explores the massive -and disregarded yet highly relevant- horror comics production in Thailand from the mid-1970s onward, as well as the precarious status of its pioneering creators.



Students also composed biographies of the exhibited Thai artists. It is also a first international collaboration with our Thai Comics Archives; lending 40 vintage KatunLemLaBaht (one-baht comics), two original artworks and a papier-mâché sculpture by Ajarn Tode Kosumphisai as well as selecting artworks by Ajarn Tawee Witsanukorn, Bangchong Kongjak, Orn (Apichat), Chatree Sungwornsilp or Jeard Mahaked for wall projections. Original covers by Dan Sudsakorn were also lended by Myrtille Tibayrenc.



The exhibition gathers the works of 50 international artists exhibited on 600 sqm, exploring the Thai/Buddhist Hell [นรก] Gardens [see “Wang Saen Suk Hell Garden” and Stephen Bessac’s Narok monograph). With thanks to Pakito Bolino, Le Dernier Cri, Benrisa Yencham and PaX Atakito.

DC NAROK : COLLECTIVE HELLXIBITION at La Friche la Belle de Mai, Marseille, France; November 13, 2021-February 13, 2022.


DC NAROK : COLLECTIVE HELLXIBITION. Pic credit: Hadrien Alvarez

Comics Zine ‘GAP/ช่องว่าง’ #01

GAP/ช่องว่าง #01 cover by MM. Kosum

Delighted to announce the launch of the bilingual (EN/TH) comics zine series GAP/ช่องว่าง, edited by yours truly. The main purpose is to offer a new/regular creative space to young -or seasoned- Thai cartoonists, showcasing critical, autobiographical and/or experimental narratives. Each issue will also feature a foreign guest, sharing about his/her bond to Thailand. For this first issue, the cover art is signed by talented artist MM. Kosum, with GAP title designed by Khwansubhanut Banlunara, and with stories by Applesoda, Ping Sasinan, Sasi Tee & Namsai K., and illustrations by Arty Nicharee and Brussels-based guest artist Abdel de Bruxelles. The A5-sized and 24-page zine is limited to 200 copies, and with a cover price of 100 baht (3 EUR; 3.5 USD).

For orders within Thailand: 100 baht + 20 baht for registered mail. Orders outside Thailand: 3.5 USD + 6 USD for registered mail [or 3 EUR + 5 EUR for registered mail]. Contact me at Nicolas.V [at] chula.ac.th

Comics submissions, from Thai artists, are welcome too at the same email address. Nicolas

GAP/ช่องว่าง #1, art by Applesoda
GAP/ช่องว่าง #1, art by Ping Sasinan
GAP/ช่องว่าง #1, art by Sasi Tee
GAP/ช่องว่าง #1, art by Abdel de Bruxelles (left) and Namsai K. (right)

GAP/ช่องว่าง #01 backcover and artwork by Arty Nicharee

Non-Fiction Comics Composition Course [part 2/2]

After several preparatory assignments [see dedicated post for details], CommArts students from the Creative Writing: Non-Fiction Comics Composition course [Chulalongkorn University, Thailand] were asked to produce their final assignment: an autobiographic comics. As mentioned in the previous post, the two main challenges were to compose a short comics without prior art training, and to write an autobiographic narrative in a country where the autobiographical genre is almost absent from local literature (and comics) as it is seen as ill-mannered in Thai culture to talk about oneself, and as shortcomings or mishaps are not to be disclosed in a context where [to save (i.e. preserve)] the face or self-image is essential. Their final and individual comics projects weren’t limited in size, length or technique; each student had to pick the best fitted format to convey his/her autobiographic narrative. The stories were composed over a period of one month, instead of two due to the pandemic outbreak. Individual comment sessions were held weekly via the Zoom platform.

Here are some of the resulting graphic narratives! More coming soon!

[All artworks are reprinted with the consent of the students, and remain their property. Some nicknames have been changed at student’s request].


Autobiographic comics by student B. (with some help from her sister).


Autobiographic (GIF) comics by exchange student Alex


Autobiographic comics by student Smile

Page 8/8 of student Smile’s autobiographic comics.


Autobiographic GIF comics by student May


Autobiographic comics by student Por (with some help from Peera Tayanukorn)

Student Por’s autobiographic comics. Click on pic to enlarge.

Autobiographic comics by student Pranang (a handheld game console format containing a long comics strip that can be scrolled manually and with a main character -Pranang’s alter ego- which can be moved up and down).


Autobiographic comics by student Jay

Page 4/4 of Jay’s autobiographic comics.

Autobiographic comics by student G.


Autobiographic comics by student Pin

Page 3/3 of student Pin’s autobiographic comics.

Autobiographic graphic narrative by student Paint


Autobiographic comics by student Plai

Student Plai’s autobiographic comics. Click on pic to enlarge.

Pages from exchange student Meg Hoogendam’s digital comics book on HSP


Autobiographic comics by student Eve

Click on pic to enlarge.
Click on pic to enlarge.

Autobiographic comics by student Rika


Autobiographic comics by student Frongki


Autobiographic comics by student Pop


Autobiographic comics by student Namfon


Autobiographic comics by student Pecky


MORE COMING SOON…

PS: I’m so proud of you all ! #ProudAjarnNicolas

Non-Fiction Comics Composition Course [part 1/2]

As of January 2020, undergraduated students at the International Programme in Communication Management [Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University] are able to choose between two Comics Composition sections as part of their Creative Writing curriculum: experimental/fiction comics composition and non-fiction comics composition. The latter is a new 16-week [3 credits] section open to 30 students without any drawing/art training. I’m introducing in this post the preparatory assignments of the “non-fiction comics” section, meant to facilitate the composition of the semester final project; a short autobiographic comics. The two main challenges were to compose a short comics without prior art training, and to write an autobiographic narrative in a country where the autobiographical genre is almost absent from local literature (and comics) as it is seen as ill-mannered in Thai culture to talk about oneself, and as shortcomings or mishaps are not to be disclosed in a context where [to save (i.e. preserve)] the face or self-image is essential. However, in a globalizing world and because of the “international” nature of the programme and of the students’ education [often in international schools], I considered these challenges worth facing.

The class was composed of 34 students [29 female students and 5 male students], and included 6 exchange students from abroad. All artworks are reprinted with the consent of the students, and remain their property.


ALL-SEMESTER ASSIGNMENT: GRAPHIC DIARY

On the first week of class, students were asked to acquire a notebook and draw an entry related to their daily life every day and over the complete 16-week semester. The goal was to help the students to familiarize themselves with the act of drawing and the observation of their surroundings and inner thoughts and feelings. Progress was checked in the classroom every two weeks, then online when the Faculty closed its doors due to the pandemic. At times, the graphic diaries revealed the frustration, the angst and sometimes the isolation experimented by the students during the lockdown.

Pages from student Paint’s graphic diary. In January 2020, before the spread of the Covid pandemic, face masks were already worn due to the high level of PM 2.5 air pollution.
Page from student Eve’s graphic diary. On February 3, French cartoonist Freddy Nadolny Poustochkine was our guest to talk autobiography, comics, time/space and memory, and show us pages from his own notebooks.

WEEK 01 ASSIGNMENT: SELF-PORTRAIT

After a first short lecture introducing non-fiction comics [autobiography, confessional comics, graphic medecine and comics journalism; with examples from Julie Doucet, Wimmen’s Comix, Robert Crumb, Joe Matt, Yoshiharu Tsuge, Neeske Alexander, Jennifer Hayden and Joe Sacco), students were asked to draw their self-portrait “in situation” in a Chas Addams’ cartoon from which the upper part had been blanked out.

Left: Noisy Neighbor by Charles Addams, The New Yorker, circa 1950. Right: edited version provided to the students.​
Self-portrait by student Gam.

WEEK 02 ASSIGNMENT: 10 MEMORIES

Students were asked to write down 10 memories, 10 crucial moments -positive or negative- that still impact/haunt/enlight their lives up to this day. I discussed individually with each student to know which memory he/she is eager and confortable adapting into a comics narrative [narrative/graphic potential]. Two memories are sometimes related [theme/period/figures] and were selected to be merged into one narrative. This list/thematic approach comes from Tom Hart‘s guide The Art of the Graphic Memoir (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2018). Numerous references and resources were borrowed from his useful book.


WEEK 03 LECTURE: CHARLOTTE SALOMON

We explored, among others, the work of German artist Charlotte Salomon and her series of nearly 800 goauches Life? Or Theatre? produced between 1940 and 1942.


WEEK 03 ASSIGNMENT: TEXT SUBSTITUTION

Each student was asked to develop -at home and in written form- his/her selected memory over an A4 page. In class, we analyzed Chris Ware’s short comics I Guess [click on link for full story] in which the written text [the sensitive memories of a child] is imposed -seemingly arbritrarily- in the captions and speech/thought balloons of a six-page Golden-Age-style superhero adventure. However, beyond the “disjunctive form of verbal/visual interplay”, some words or sentences seem to echo drawn elements and to form a braiding of motifs; Chris Ware plays here with the fact that comics readers are drawn to look for meaning in the interaction of the pictorial and the linguistic.

After the analysis of I Guess, students were asked to compose a graphic narrative using the same concept by simply imposing the text of their ‘selected and extended memory’ [A4 page] in the emptied captions and speech balloons from three pages of French cartoonist Xavier Mussat’s autobiographic comics Sainte Famille. The latter book was selected as Xavier Mussat extensively plays with visual metaphors and allegories and because these could become generative of unexpected and accidental resonances with my students’ written memories.

Page 1/3 of student G’s autobiographic text laid down over Xavier Mussat’s comics pages.
Page 2/3 of student G’s autobiographic text laid down over Xavier Mussat’s comics pages.
Page 3/3 of student G’s autobiographic text laid down over Xavier Mussat’s comics pages.
Page 1/3 of student Dear’s autobiographic text laid down over Xavier Mussat’s comics pages.
Page 2/3 of student Dear’s autobiographic text laid down over Xavier Mussat’s comics pages.
Page 3/3 of student Dear’s autobiographic text laid down over Xavier Mussat’s comics pages.

WEEK 04 ASSIGNMENT: DIFFERENT TONE

In order to further explore the memory selected by each student, I asked them rewrite their text but as if written by their younger self -in a personal diary- at the age they were when the chosen event took place. The text was to be written on black and white photocopies of some pages from French-Canadian cartoonist Julie Delporte‘s pencil-color and organic diary Journal (Koyama Press, 2013).


The following pages show student G’s memories [to be compared with her version on Xavier Mussat’s pages above], written down as a personal diary, along with Julie Delporte’s drawings on which G added watercolor.

Text and watercolor by student G over drawings by Julie Delporte’s Journal.

The objective of the “text substitution” and “different tone” assignments is to lead the students -without prior art training- to get a sense of the graphic potential of their stories as a comics narrative, to consider the use of visual metaphors, allegories and motifs, as well as the narrative use of color and ‘voices’, and to trigger new and unexpected (and maybe forgotten) elements to feed their narrative through additional layers.


WEEK 05 ASSIGNMENT: WAIT! STOP, YOUNGER VERSION OF ME!

Now that students have been drawing in their daily graphic diary for a few weeks, and that they have played with their written texts in relation to pictures through various substitutions, they were asked to draw their first comics (in the classroom). The assignment is to draw a comics over 4 pages with imposed regular grids, and with an imposed speech balloon (containing the sentence: “Wait! Stop, younger version of me!”) in the third panel of the first page. The balloon was borrowed from American cartoonist Jess Fink’ sci-fi graphic memoir We Can Fix It! (Top Shelf, 2013) where the author goes back in time with a time machine to warn her younger self of -and thus try to avoid- mistakes she made in her past. Students were asked to write such a meeting with their younger selves.



Student Paint meets her younger self, pages 1 and 2 (out of 4).
Student Paint meets her younger self, pages 3 and 4 (out of 4).

Student Por meets her younger self, pages 1 and 2 (out of 4).
Student Por meets her younger self, pages 3 and 4 (out of 4).

“Like how does something happen, and… how does it reverberate through time? And that act of memory is important, and comics are great for memory. Like even when you have a short comic, like a three-panel comic, you’ve got a past, a present and a future as soon as you look at those three boxes. And that allows you to reflect and compare times.”

Art Spiegelman, in: Conan, N. (2011). MetaMaus: The Story Behind Spiegelman’s Classic; radio interview, Oct 5.

WEEK 05 LECTURE: COMICS, TIME AND SPACE

We explored the interplay of Time, Space and Memory in comics narratives by Richard McGuire, Lilli Carré, Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons & Rick Veitch, Frank Miller, Kevin Huizenga, Chris Ware, Art Spiegelman, Matt Madden, Nick Sousanis and Kiriko Nananan.


WEEK 05 – SPECIAL GUEST: FREDDY NADOLNY POUSTOCHKINE

On February 03, we were honoured to welcome French cartoonist Freddy Nadolny Poustochkine as a guest. We talked time, space, the fabric/material of memory and comics art in his creative process from his autobiographical comics La chair des pommes (ego comme x) to his Cambodia-set La colline empoisonnée  (Futuropolis) and his ongoing project; and of the seminal importance of (his) sketchbooks. More pictures on this dedicated post.

Guest talk with French cartoonist Freddy Nadolny Poustochkine, here discussing the importance of his sketchbooks in his creative process.

WEEK 06 ASSIGNMENT: THE MEMORY TREE

Based on works by Chris Ware and ideas borrowed from the previous lecture and Freddy’s talk, students were asked to map their memory on an A3 page, adding photographs of themselves, of related places and characters, and of artworks (posters, paintings, quotes…) echoing the emotions they experienced during the ‘life-changing’ event they will tell in comics form as their final project.

A lifetime: example of non-linear storytelling by Chris Ware.
Assignment brief.

Student Frongki’s memory tree.

WEEK 07: ORAL PRESENTATIONS ON NON-FICTION COMICS

Students were asked to form 10 groups and to read and discuss 10 challenging non-fiction graphic novels [and zines] by introducing their classmates to remarkable features (technique, narrative voice, topic, layouts..). The oral presentations were held online, due the Covid outbreak. The books I proposed them to tackle were: Les Têtards (and zines) by Pascal Matthey and Badaboom Twist (and other zines) by David Libens, Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi, Sunny by Taiyo Matsumoto, Becoming Unbecoming by Una, Piero by Edmond Baudoin, Daddy’s Girl by Debbie Drechler, Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle, Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow and The End by Anders Nilsen, and Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart. Diversity of topics, techniques, origins informed my selection to provide students with a large array of references and approaches.


WEEK 08 [MIDTERM] LECTURE: COMICS ESSAY COMPOSITION

The composition of comics essays in small groups was originally considered as an assignment during the semester. Sadly, due the Covid outbreak, group projects were canceled at midterm. As we weren’t yet aware of that fact, one early lecture was dedicated on [non-fiction] comics essay composition; I explained the process of creating a comics essay based on a two-pager I wrote for a special issue of KaiHuaRoh magazine with art by Ployjaploen “Bamie” Paopanlerd. I went through the various stages of composition, from the first idea [informed by numeorus influences] to thumbnailing and other schaffoldings leading to a clear non-linear narrative (with much help from the artist).


WEEK 08 [MIDTERM]: COMMENTS AND SUGGESTIONS

As for examples, a useful reference was Rob Stolzer‘s students work from his Graphic Narration class.


After reading the students ‘memory trees’, I suggested to each student various approaches, comics references or motifs/connections worth exploring before adapting his/her selected memory into a comics narrative.




WEEKS 09 TO 16: INDIVIDUAL [ONLINE] CONSULTING AND FINAL RESULTS

The autobiographic comics composed by the students will be published in an upcoming post! [Their final and individual comics projects weren’t limited in size, length or technique; each student had to pick the best fitted format to convey his/her autobiographic narrative]. More soon!

Because it’s sweet… Thanks mademoiselle Plai!

Thai Black Lives Matter: “Maniq not Sakai” knowledge comics

As part of the “Thai Culture for Communication: Graphic Narratives” course, fresh.wo.men at the International Program of the Faculty of Communications Arts (Chulalongkorn University, Thailand) were asked to compose a knowledge comics on the usually-derogatory representation of the indigenous Maniq ethnic group in Thai culture. Known asNgo Paa’ in Thai (and sometimes referred to as Negritos or Sakai), the MAniq people live in the forests of Southern Thailand and were essentiliazed as a dark-skinned traditional folktale figure. The following graphic narrative -composed by students Tiara, Prim, Name and Praewah- offers an interesting insight on this Thai population, and on the cultural biases and unfair treatments they suffered, as well as a message of understanding and hope. Because #BlackLivesMatter in Thailand too.


A portrait of Kanang, a Maniq orphan welcomed by King Chulalongkorn at the court in the early 20th century.

“During the period that Kanang lived with King Chulalongkorn, he was generally considered as the King’s adopted son (Duangjan 1988). At the court, Kanang was taught how to dance and play the part of the Negrito in the Sangthong play, and he became the regular actor of this role in performances before the king’s guests. The sensational moment in the drama is when Prince Sangthong takes off his ‘ugly’ Negrito mask to reveal his beautiful noble self. The audience was shocked to see that under the mask was a real live Ngo Paa.” ​Nathan Porath [“Developing indigenous communities into Sakai in South Thailand and Riau (Indonesia)”, 2003]


Ongoing Research: Jamnong Rodari [จำนงค์ รอดอริ], the forgotten Siamese comics master

00 Jamnong Rodari
“Raden Lundai” [ระเด่นลันได] tier by Siamese artist Jamnong Rodari [จำนงค์ รอดอริ] , c. late 1932

Kingdom of Siam, 1932. If the pre-1960s Thai Comics production is a lost continent, some artists -such as Prayoon Chanyawongse, Sawas Jutharop or Hem Vejakorn– are well-known from local aficionados. To the best of my knowledge and in the literature I’ve been able to access over the past 5 years, only two lines are mentioning Jamnong Rodari (จำนงค์ รอดอริ; brother of best-known illustrator Fuen Rodari), hailed as one of the greatest cartoonists of the 1930s. Not much more on his art; I only saw a fragment of a comics strip at the National Library of Thailand, and two series of beautiful book illustrations. So I was thrilled to get my hands on a collection of comic strips cut from 1932 Siamese newspapers [miraculously unearthed in an attic], and discover his stunning long-form comics which are said to have influenced prominent cartoonists of the late 1930s. Here are two excerpts. First is the upper-tier of his 48(?)-page comics adaptation of then-famous play Raden Lundai; or the Pauper Prince (ระเด่นลันได; a parody of the classic “Inao” play), with additional captions in Klon-16 versification below the panels, probably from late 1932 [there’s an ad for Chaplin’s 1931 City Lights at the back, and American films were usually screened in Siam one year after the US release]. Character design and gestures might be informed by the traditional Nang Talung (หนังตะลุง) shadow puppetry [as was suggested to me by my kick-@ssistant Bird]. Second excerpt [which I edited as I wanted to show the three-panel dance sequence which is allocated over two tiers in the original] is even more interesting as it unveils an example of realist-art long-form comics seven years before Hem Vejakorn’s Sri Thanonchai. Also unusual; the story is set in contemporary Siam -and is a “migrant” narrative- under the title KatunNaiBoPhachoenChok (การ์ตูนนายโบ้เผชิญโชค; The Comics of Mr. Bo who seeks his fortune [in Bangkok]). Drawn in late 1932 [as the newspaper banner was not cut from the first comics installment]. It appears that these two comic strips series -with two different styles and genres- were drawn by Jamnong Rodari in late 1932 or early 1933.

One question is left unanswered. Why was Jamnong Rodari forgotten from Thai Comics History while being hailed as “one of the greatest Siamese cartoonists.” I would venture that, unlike contemporary artists such as Sawas Jutharop and slightly later Prayoon Chanyawongse, Jamnong Rodari didn’t collect his serialized stories in comic book format. Sawas and Prayoon’s comic strips collections are known, and might have helped their names and works to be remembered in the following decades. No trace, so far, of any collected works of Jamnong. Might be a lead. [EDIT: a collection of Raden Lundai was recently sold on internet, so at least one collection of newspaper strips in comic book format was released]. Nicolas Verstappen

PS: These are not my favorite excerpts from the series; the most stunning pieces will come later, in another format [if current COVID-crisis doesn’t shatter this research project].

00 Jamnong Rodari 2
“KatunNaiBoPhachoenChok” [การ์ตูนนายโบ้เผชิญโชค] edited tier by Siamese artist Jamnong Rodari [จำนงค์ รอดอริ] , late 1932. Two opium traffickers want to take revenge on Mr. Bo who lost their opium load by accident. As Mr. Bo is in a dance club, they approach him by dancing together but Mr. Bo is saved by the club dancer in a bold move.

#MeanwhileHereComics #การ์ตูนที่นี่ Challenge 1/2

As an individual assignment for the “Creative Writing Section 11 [Experimental & Fiction Comics Composition]” (International Program, Faculty of Communications Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand), students were asked to explore the concept of “windows on time in a single place” developed by American cartoonist Richard McGuire with his two stories titled “Here” (1989 in the pages of RAW, and 2014 as an extended graphic novel). The complete groundbreaking graphic narrative can be read on this post: “Here” by Richard McGuire. Some of our students’ comics are displayed below in this post. More will be added soon.

mcguireHere_001
First page (out of six) of the short comics Here by Richard McGuire, published in RAW Volume 2 #1, USA, 1989. Full story… here.


The graphic narratives produced by my Thai [and exchange] students were inventive and striking, as some explored not only the COVID-19 crisis but addressed social and political issues in a straightforward way, revealing Thailand’s traumatic decades made of military coups and bloody crackdowns. I guess the assignment came timely, capturing the frustrations of a new generation of young adults, revealing visually the overburduning and endless cycle of coups and sociopolitical struggles. With my students and with Richard McGuire’s approval, we decided to set the assignment as a challenge and invite everyone to take part, as we believe that in these times of self-isolation, it might be interesting to widen the limited and constrained space we now inhabit by exploring it through time.

“Like how does something happen, and… how does it reverberate through time? And that act of memory is important, and comics are great for memory. Like even when you have a short comic, like a three-panel comic, you’ve got a past, a present and a future as soon as you look at those three boxes. And that allows you to reflect and compare times.” (Art Spiegelman, in: Conan, N. (2011). MetaMaus: The Story Behind Spiegelman’s Classic; radio interview, Oct 5)


OPEN-ACCESS LAYOUT

So here’s the layout that you are free to use [click on the image for larger version], and please add the hashtags #MeanwhileHereComics and/or #การ์ตูนที่นี่ (‘KatunTiNee’ which means “Here Comics” in Thai language) so that we can follow your artworks online.Thank you in advance for joining!Meanwhile Here Template


“Time, as cut into minute sausage slices and laid out on the [comics] page in an array from which larger connections and patterns may be sensed, is the cartoonist’s ‘paint’ or ‘clay.’ […] Trying to communicate the hugely incomprehensible yet indescriptibly fine texture of life in little reconstructions sort of mirrors the way we remember it… Really, when one come right down to it, in the end, that’s all we have: our memories!” (Chris Ware, in: Why I Love Comics. The New York Times , 2015)


OUR STUDENTS’ COMICS

#MeanwhileHereComics pages by students of the “Creative Writing Section 11 [Experimental and Fiction Comics Composition]” course. More will be added soon. In the captions below some pages, I’ve introduced links to some local/Thai events referred to in the graphic narratives. PS: I’m proud of my students’ hard and meaningful works. #ProudAjarn

Meanwhile Here by Jib
Click on page for larger size. Panel 1 [1932]: Siamese Revolution leading from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional one. Panel 2 [1976]: Student protests and Thamassat University Massacre. Panel 3 [2006]: 2006 Coup d’Etat. Panel 4 [2014]: 2014 Coup d’Etat (and Red/Yellow Shirts conflict). Panel 5 [2030 & 3,000 Years Ago]: reference to 2020 news on the Government giving up part of prehistoric cave painting site for mining. Panel 5 [2020]: ongoing University Students Protests for a fairer democratic system.
 

Meanwhile Here by Mind
Click on page for larger size. Panel 3 [2019]: waves of harmful [Particulate Matter] PM 2.5 levels in the air.
 

Meanwhile Here by Palmmy
Click on page for larger size. Panel 1 [1934]: tree growing two after the Siamese Revolution leading from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional one. Panel 2 [1976]: reference to the [graphic] photograph of Pulitzer Prize winner Neal Ulevich showing a junta supporter striking the lynched body of a student with a foldable chair in front of a cheering crowd, during the Thamassat University Massacre. Panels 3 and 5 [1976]: reference to the same photograph (lynched student). Panel 5 [2020]: ongoing University Students Protests for a fairer democratic system, with students making the “three-finger [Hunger Games] salute” in a sign of defiance against military rule. Panel 6 [2020]: COVID-19…
 

Meanwhile Here by Pim
Click on page for larger size. Panel 1 [2012]: reference to the Democracy Monument which commemorates the 1932 Siamese Revolution. Panel 4 [2020]: COVID-19…
 

Meanwhile Here by Proud
Click on page for larger size. Panel 4 [2020]: COVID-19…

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Click on page for larger size. Panels 1 and 6: Chinese-type funeral altar above which a portrait of the deceased person is placed.

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Click on page for larger size. Panels 3 and 6 [1868]: reference to the famous Thai ghost story Mae Nak (where the spectral nature of a female ghost is revealed to her husband when she stretches her arm oddly to pick a fallen lime).

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COMPOSITION PROCESS

As these “constrained comics” & concept are quite challenging, composition was achieved over a couple of weeks, and with the submission of several drafts commented by yours truly… via the Line app due to current COVID-19 crisis. If you want to spot the differences, and see how every minute detail [from color to fonts or encapsulation] matters in comics composition where “each element is thus: one with everything” (Nick Sousanis in: Unflattening, comics dissertation published by Harvard University Press, 2015).

MIND HERE PROCESS
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