Comics for Activism: An Urbanist Explores the “Architecture of the Page”

How comics can be a medium for social change. 


With the invention of the television, photography and the internet, our love of pictures has grown dramatically over the last century. While bibliophiles lament the resultant loss in reading habits today, a medium does exist that bridges this proverbial divide – relying on the strengths of both pictures and text to convey stories. In today’s ‘civilisation of the image’, as Roland Barthes called it, this particular medium possesses incredible potential for not just storytelling, but activism and even education. This medium, of course, is comic art.

The visual nature of comics pose an obvious advantage in their ability to communicate with more people, making information easily accessible, even to those who are perhaps not literate. Owing to their combination of images and text, and the weaving together of several layers of meaning, the reading of a comic activates several areas across the brain. Couple these observations with Leonard Shlain on how word-image interplay balances the relationship between our right and left brain hemispheres (between reason and intuition).

In this article on Creative Yatra, I interview Nikhil Chaudhary – an architect-urbanist based in Mumbai – who employs the power of the medium of comics to communicate urban issues in Indian cities to a larger audience.


Image 4

From ‘Aggressive Expansion’ by Nikhil Chaudhary. First Published in ‘The Big Picture’ by Live Mint, 2015

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Niharika Sanyal

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