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Linking Young Minds Together
        Volume 6 | Issue 06 | February 12, 2012 |


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Saad Adnan Khan
Photos: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo

How we loved to gulp down these onomatopoeias as kids, as we lay slouched on the couch without any worries of being an adult and making decisions. Cartoon strips and comic books lay scattered on our desks, next to our homework, underneath our table lamps, enticing us to flip through their pages and soothing our eyes with the rush of soaring colours. The fun and witty dialogue exchanges between colourfully drawn characters and the bizarre incidents that can only happen in comics were few of the things that we could have easily glued ourselves to for hours. As we grew up, we started to come across different kinds of cartoons that not only entertained us, but also informed us- about politics, society and global crises. As young readers, we started flipping through pages of newspapers and magazines in which cartoons shrunk information and presented them through few images, with generous touches of different kinds of humour. Such an intelligent form of art has gained popularity among young students and professionals. Cartoons are used to express thoughts and give opinions.

Cartoonist Nasrin Sultana Mitu.

Nasrin Sultana Mitu, who works as a cartoonist at New Age, a daily newspaper and Unmad, the monthly satire magazine, is content that she is a cartoonist. “Cartoon is the best tool to reach young people," says Mitu. Mitu recounts the days when she was a student and did not have time to read the newspaper while getting out of home for morning classes. “When the first page of a newspaper has cartoon, it immediately draws attention of young minds. You will peep even for once as you pass a news stand and catch a glance of cartoon. Cartoon is an easy form of communication. You give messages without any text. The strongest feature of cartoon is its use of humour”. Mitu thinks that the concept behind any cartoon drawing is of paramount importance. “Once a week, we, members of Akantis, a forum of artists in Bangladesh, go to different places like Gabtoli, or anywhere a little adventurous, to draw and sketch. At Unmad, we sit for addas and come up with ideas and topics for our cartoons," adds Mitu.

Eve Teasing, by Mitu, published in New Age on November 7, 2010.

“Cartoon itself is the easiest, graphic form to communicate. Communication is made enjoyable through the use of humour. There are different varieties of cartoons- political, social, entertaining, educational, provocative and comic. Some of them have a lot to do with raising awareness, which is essential among the young people, and that can be effectively done when young people start going through cartoons," says Shishir Bhattacharjee, Associate Professor, Drawing and Painting Department, Faculty of Fine Arts, Dhaka University.

“Cartoon is not a jotil medium. The youths are bound to pour in attention, when pictures talk. Unmad sometimes organises two month basic workshop on cartoon drawing. The participants then work with us as interns, and then within months they become full-fledged cartoonists," says Ahsan Habib, Editor and Publisher, Unmad magazine.

Sadatuddin Ahmed Amil used to draw caricatures of his teachers when he used to be on the verge of dozing off in boring classes. That was back in his tenth grade, now he is doing his Masters at Faculty of Fine Arts (Charukala), Dhaka University. He is also the cartoonist of The Daily Star newspaper. He had the fortunate opportunity to take part in International Visitor Programme for Political Artists, a programme of 25 days of the US Embassy. “It was a really interesting experience. We were taken to Library of Congress in Washington D.C, where they had a huge section allotted only for comics. Original copies of comic books are kept and maintained in proper temperature," exclaims Sadat. Sadat insightfully says how cartoon and Bangladesh go way back, by referencing to the famous and important historical caricature of Yahya Khan done by Bangladeshi artist Kamrul Hasan. “There are certain things that cannot be written, but can only be shown. That is when cartoon comes handy”, says Ahmed.

Cartoonist Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy. Courtesy: Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy
Cartoon drawing by Tanmoy.

Syed Rashad Imam (Tanmoy) is an Assistant Editor of Unmad. He is also the Staff Cartoonist of Daily Sun, a daily newspaper. “Everything is possible in cartoons. On the other hand expressing yourself in other mediums, like painting, photography and videography, have logical boundaries and limitations. I think this infinite possibility of expressing ideas through cartoon attracts youth the most," points out Tanmoy. Tanmoy believes that since there are so many newspapers and fun supplements nowadays, the need for good cartoonists is growing too. Experts in cartoon media are not only working in newspapers, but also in add firms, game designing, animation and also doing freelancing and outsourcing by taking cartoon as a full time job, shared by Tanmoy. Through freelance projects, a person can earn Tk. 25 to 45 thousand per month, but of course freelance works involve hard work, passion and dedication.

Cartoonist Mehedi Haque and one of his impressive graphic artworks. Courtesy: Mehedi Haque
Cartoonist Sadatuddin Ahmed Amil.

Mehedi Haque is doing his Masters in Urban and Regional Planning at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). He is also Executive Editor of Unmad and Editorial Cartoonist of New Age newspaper. “Cartoon itself is a universal language. In higher studies one can find cartoon illustrations to explain matters.

Cartoon based illustrations are also used in social development field," says Haque. He also says that almost every newspaper now has cartoon section, comic strip, cartoon supplement and at least one political cartoonist. The last wage board (7th) addressed the post of “Cartoonist” in two tiers. According to him cartoon field should be considered as an individual industry like film or play. This field has the potentiality to become a rich sector within time. All what is needed is the contribution of more enthusiastic people.

House rent skyrocketing by Sadat, published in The Daily Star on November 20, 2011

Eat less by Sadat, published in The Daily Star on August 5, 2011

Bangladesh also has an association for cartoonists, which is called Bangladesh Cartoonist Association (BANCARAS). It is an organization of professional and amateur cartoonists. It aims to work as a common platform for all the cartoonists of the country. Primarily, the aim of BANCARAS is to keep the cartoonists connecting and sharing their works and thought. BANCARAS plans to arrange several cartoon exhibitions every year focusing on different issues, as well as regular cartoon workshops. There will be an annual online publication too, which includes all the significant cartoons of the year. Readers can check out the website at www.bancaras.com.

Cartoon brings creativity, intellect and humour together. In the current time, cartoon means more than just colour and illustrations. It is almost synonymous to spreading information and raising awareness. Young people are already full of energy and idea, and cartoon turns out to be the perfect tool they use to channel all such energy and ideas.

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