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Comic Relief

When Daljeet Singh Sidhu wanted to introduce his three-year-old son to Sikh heroes and history, he was not at a loss of ...

Sept. 06, 2011: Comics on Sikh history and a six-part graphic novel on Guru Nanak’s life take a look at the bygone times in a creative way

When Daljeet Singh Sidhu wanted to introduce his three-year-old son to Sikh heroes and history, he was not at a loss of words. But what he did not have, was a story that his boy could see, feel and later read. That’s when it struck Sidhu; that Sikh history has many heroes, but no graphics. So after 12 years in the US, he packed his bags and moved back to India to chronicle Sikh history, its great gurus and warriors and present them in the comics format. That’s how, a Sikh comics project, was born.

“Children in India and abroad are oblivious to our rich heritage. Therefore, the comics appeal to people everywhere. Also, initially our target audience was children but our first two all-colour titles in English have received a great response from adults too,” says city-based Sidhu as he flips through the stories of Baba Deep Singh, the Sikh martyr and scholar.

Baba-Deep-Singh-cover (197K)  GTB (200K)

Scripted by Sidhu, the basis of the stories are books by historians like Bhai Veer Singh, Tirlochan Singh and Satbir Singh. “The facets of Sikh history have to be authentic,” says Sidhu, who hopes to finalise the title in a month, and has planned 20 illustrated titles on history and five volumes in the same format on Guru Nanak. Animation projects based on the comics, and later some fiction are also on the list. “There is a huge demand for translating these into Hindi and Punjabi and we’re looking forward to it,” says Sidhu.

These books are priced at `99 in India. All future titles will be priced at `50-60 in India and $3-$3.50 elsewhere. Working over-time on the comics is city-based artist and film-maker Amarjit Virdi and his talented team of illustrators. The team is also the creative brain behind animation films like Chote Sahib Zade, Rise of Khalsa and Maharaja Ranjit Singh. “We realize that the medium of comics and animation films has a huge reach and is an absorbing way to get the point across,” says Virdi, whose team is busy creating characters, their look, expressions and iconography in accordance with every scene, so that the reader can feel the pulse of each situation. “I am an actor with a pencil,” says Virdi, as he gets back to the board for his next comic, The Battle of Saragarhi.

Elsewhere, 27-year-old George Emmanual, a former student of the Government College is working on an exhibition, which will display the making of a graphic novel. “The content may be for children, but what goes behind each illustration is a story in itself. The process of creating comics has changed with technology and I want it to be an interactive and interesting display for both students and young artists,” says Emmanual, who adds that his research for the art work took him to Sikh museums, gurudwaras and exhibitions. Now, Emmanual is busy working on a six-part graphic novel on Guru Nanak’s life. An Indo-Canadian project, it will be released later this month in English, Hindi, Punjabi and Italian.


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