Information about environmental issues needs to be communicated in ways that are creative and easy to understand, says cartoonist and creator of environmental comics Green Humour, Rohan Chakravarty
Creating awareness and inspiring action over environmental issues, especially among the young generation is important. However, much of the information relating to such issues tends to be present in complicated technical language. Efforts need to be made to talk about environmental issues in a manner which is friendly to children and layman, and cartoons are one of the best means to do it, says Rohan Chakravarty, the creator of Green Humour, a comic strip dedicated to talking about environmental issues.
“I developed an interest in wildlife through the organisation ‘Kids for Tigers’ with which I used to volunteer,” explains Chakravarty while elaborating on the origins of Green Humour. “My work there involved taking children on nature walks. This entailed reading up on urban wildlife found in my city, Nagpur. This is when I realised that there is no significant creative form of communication about wildlife that reaches out to people. Most of it is quite scientific and full of jargon. I knew a bit of cartooning, and just thought ‘why not merge the two and see what comes out of it.”
Thus, the website Green Humour was founded in 2010, and soon began appearing in various papers and magazines in India. By 2013, found space in publications and website of US-based Universal Press Syndicate, and it has never looked back since. Even so, the success did not come without struggle. “For me, the toughest part was to get the media to take me seriously,” says Chakravarty. “When I started , people only wanted political cartoons as was the trend. However, with environmental matters taking the forefront of news and current affairs, things are changing. A lot of media outlets want to explore alternative ways of putting out environment-related news, and cartoons are one of the many means along with media such as videos,” states the artist, who has formerly worked as an animator.
However, even as he notes that videos are becoming increasingly popular, he himself does not want to venture into creating videos. “I have been an animation filmmaker, and chose to do full-time cartooning after that. My opinion is that a video does not give a viewer time to think and form and opinion for himself. Rather, it tends to enforce an opinion on the viewer. A cartoon on the other hand, gives you time to pause and think, and then form their opinion,” says the cartoonist. “Secondly, in animation, you have to work in a team, and I am not exactly a team player,” he quips.
When it comes to environmental issues, it has been observed that despite there being considerable awareness about the need for action, people rarely follow the right path. Chakravarty is aware of this fact, and chooses a soft middle way to deliver his message.
“I believe it is wise to take it easy and not to enforce a viewpoint on people-try to emphasize the sustainable consumption rather than calling for a complete stop to certain products,” says Chakravarty, underlining that there are many sensitive issues that will take time and tact to address. “For example, it is known that meat is linked to greenhouse gasses, but it’s a complicated issue.when we look at meat in that context, it is a completely different issue. In India, where meat is grown in a sustainable manner, the issue takes on many other aspects. A lot of people do have information about environmental issues, but they do not understand the intricacies of those issues. That is what needs to be broken down, disamminating detailed information in ways that are creative and easy to understand. ” he says.