Hi! My name is Nicole and I'm the founder of Ad Astra Comix, a Toronto-based company specializing in comics with social justice themes. This month, we launch our first full-length publishing project: "Drawing the Line: Indian Women Fight Back!" The book is 170 pages of comics by 14 Indian women who came together for a comics creation workshop in 2012.
In the aftermath of high-profile cases in India around sexual assault and violence against women, this anthology takes dead aim at gender discrimination and harassment, but also talks about sisterhood, inter-generational differences, courage, hope, and humour.
At Ad Astra Comix, we already have 2 years' experience presenting and facilitating workshops on how to make and use comics for social change. We think Drawing the Line is a great conversation starter, and its sale will help us continue to do workshops like the one that produced it! Read on for how you can help!
About the Book....
"December 2012: Tens of thousands of people – women, men, families, young, old, rich, poor – come out onto the streets of towns and cities in India to protest the brutal gang rape and murder of a young medical student in Delhi. For days and months, the protests refuse to die down. People demand change, action, commitment to the ideals of democracy and egalitarianism. And they refuse to be silenced."
---Drawing the Line, Indian Women Fight Back, Indian Edition, Zubaan Books, New Delhi, 2015
As a part of the national conversation happening in India around women's rights, feminist publisher Zubaan Books (New Delhi) teamed up with The Goethe Institut (Germany) for a week-long workshop with a group of Indian women, aged 20 - 45.
The result was something remarkable.
Drawing the Line: Indian Women Fight Back! is a collection of 14 accounts of lived experience by women in India. Stories cover topics about gender, sexuality, harassment, coming of age, family, sisterhood, race, shadeism, class, and political struggle in a country that many in the West know little about, and understand even less.
Ad Astra Comix, in partnership with Zubaan Books, are set to release the North American edition of this anthology. Our intention is to share this important project with folks in the US and Canada, and to specifically focus on working with organizations who feel this book offers their membership an opportunity for education and advocacy around women's issues.
In turn, this book offers some exciting opportunities.
Firstly, Drawing the Line gives women in India a chance to speak for themselves. At a time when intersectional feminism is again reminding feminists in the West about the marginalized position of women of colour, LGBTQ women, and women in the "global South", this comic anthology offers North American readers the chance to learn valuable lessons about diversity of experience.
Drawing the Line is also helping these women get exposure as artists, activists, writers and storytellers outside of India. Your contribution to this project can help their vocational pursuits in a direct and meaningful way.
The book is divided into 14 stand-alone stories in this 162-page anthology. Comics were drawn and printed in black and white, and include a variety of artistic styles, from iconic caricatures to gentle portraiture. Though some of the comics address sexual violence, other themes include beauty standards, patriarchal attitudes in the workplace, and experiences of sisterhood on public transit.
Although the sexual assault case that sparked this national conversation around gender in India was covered in the western press, that coverage has been heavily skewed. Sexual violence has been portrayed as an Indian problem as though it was not also common in North American society. Rather than allowing western media to speak for Indian women, this title presents the individual, on-the-ground experiences of women in their own words and pictures.
At a time when white feminism is struggling to embrace intersectionality in a meaningful way, titles like Drawing the Line offer western feminists an opportunity to engage with the lived experiences of Indian women in other parts of the world. For South Asian women living in the diaspora, Drawing the Line represents an opportunity to compare similarities and differences between diasporic life and the experience of women still in India.
A Bit About Us...
Ad Astra Comix is a Toronto-based comics publisher specializing in the production and publication of comics and graphic novels that amplify marginalized voices. Founded in 2012, Ad Astra is working on several publishing projects in addition to ‘Drawing the Line’.
Zubaan Books, the producer of Drawing the Line and title’s Indian publisher, are an independent feminist publishing house based out of New Delhi that has been operating since 2003.
In addition to Drawing the Line, Zubaan carries a variety of books on Indian feminism and political struggles.
The Goethe Institut is the Federal Republic of Germany’s cultural institute, active worldwide, promoting international discourse on the key concerns of what is becoming an increasingly global society. Goethe-Institut monitors trends in Germany and encourages cultural collaboration across the globe by organizing programmes of events and making contributions to various festivals and exhibitions in the fields of film, dance, music, theatre, literature and translation.
Our full "Drawing the Line" press kit can be found here. A copy of our press release can be found here. Further press inquiries can be made via e-mail.
Press Liaison: Nicole Marie Burton
Risks and challenges
As a new publishing company, we have no treasury of funds to fall back on, therefore we are relying heavily on this crowdfunder to generate the funds necessary to produce this book responsibly (aka, in a way that doesn't bankrupt us!). Therefore, pre-orders are key for us getting out the gate.
After this, our primary concern for this project is "reach". We are a new publisher, and we have to pick and choose our promotions wisely. Therefore any grassroots support--from coverage on blogs and podcasts to signal boosts on social media--are not only helpful, but directly linked to this project's success.
We will be producing and printing 'Drawing the Line' no matter what, but in order to get this book to readers around North America, we need your help!
Here are some ways that you can help...
- Read over our materials, and share the word within your networks. Make a post on Facebook or Twitter. Send an e-mail to your friends and colleagues, appealing to them to support this project. Every pre-order of the book helps!
- Get a group of people together and order a discounted group package for a workshop, reading group, or classroom! This anthology is a great conversation starter for a number of important social issues. If you can think of a bunch of people who would love the book, buy a bulk order and give them away as holiday gifts!
- Ask your local independent book or comic shop to order "Drawing the Line". (If they say they only order books through a distributor, that's OK! "Drawing the Line" will be distributed by AK Press in a few months, but ensure them that they'll get the book faster and at the same price if they order now through our crowdfunder!)
- If you frequent a social organization or community centre, see if they would be interested in ordering the book to fund-raise for their activities. A group rate order gets you 5 or more books at a discounted price, making it a perfect fundraising item at a table or event!
Every little bit counts. We look forward to adding it all up to make something amazing to share with you!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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