Fishing in common waters: fishing communities in coastal Gujarat
This report presents the design of a Graphic Novel as a storytelling medium; communicating ideas visually. The design project was initiated with an aim of communicating culture of coastal Gujarat to the rest of Gujarat through stories, specifically folktales of the Gujarat fishermen. The objective of the design was to try to fill the gap between these two groups. The graphic novel format was chosen for the purpose of sharing stories visually and in an interesting way, the medium seemed most appropriate and chose to create a graphic novel as the final product for my project. The confirmation of visualizing a Graphic Novel as the final product was done by interviewing a few children and taking their views on the medium. Compiling a collection of folktales and proved unfruitful and rather ineffective. The focus of the project then shifted to doing research on their culture and preparing a story in the form of an ethnographic narrative. The research work was done on the Kharwa, Koli and Machhwara communities with the field sites being Veraval, Jaleshwar, Sutrapada, Diu, Ghoghola and Vanakbara. Developing a story for the Graphic Novel with the data gathered from the field turned out to be the most important part of the process. After several iterations of trying to construct a narrative, one option was selected which also seemed exciting to visualize. The plot of the final story describes the scenario of the Kharwa and Machhwara communities; the lives they lead and about fishing which is their livelihood. The narrative is built around the relationships among the people within the community and their relationship with other communities made explicit through their history, fishing business and their relationships with each other at sea. Efforts have been made to include all aspects that are crucial in defining their respective cultures. The flow of the story is maintained by incorporating the facts that were gathered in my field visits. Scenes from the story were visualised through rough sketches drawn on paper. A track was kept to maintain the continuity in the drawings and modifications were done to them according to the story. The rough sketches were turned into detailed drawings with pencil and were filtered to be organized in panels of the Graphic Novel layout. The product worked out to be an effective representation of the culture. It establishes the idea of stories as a good medium to convey stories of different cultures and perspectives.