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Collectively Creating Comics: Ethno-Graphic Storytelling and/as Teamwork

Are you interested in comics, collective work and drawing anthropology?

We are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to discuss these topics together at a two-part, hybrid panel on January 26, 2022. This panel is part of a week-long workshop, in which the DELTA project team works together with comic artists from the four study regions on a comic book with delta stories.

Comics are becoming a crucial genre for representing and communicating ethnographic insights and anthropological debates. A turn towards comics and cartoons also characterizes publications from other disciplines eager to communicate beyond their academic confines. Where reading increasingly happens in a context of visual elaboration and abbreviated texts, ethno-graphic novels and anthrographics can be ways of illustrating anthropological arguments for wider audiences. They can speak to the imagination, inviting readers to undergo a personal experience beyond the voice of an authoritative anthropologist. But this genre can also be a way of formulating new messages, representations and understandings altogether, if making comics is taken not as a rendering of given texts in visual format, but as a collectively creative process.    

This panel draws on the experiences with comic-making from artists, anthropologist and others, paying particular attention to emerging forms of representation and messages that develop in the collective process. We will also discuss questions of visual narrative, the interplay of text and images, envisioned audiences, and dynamics of collective work between artists, academics and others. The background behind this workshop is a current comic project, in which the DELTA Project team is working together with artists from its four study regions to design comic stories about pertinent topics from the four river deltas.


There are two options for participating:

  1. Current regulations permitting, please join us in person in Room 251, on the ground floor of Classen-Kappelmann-Straße 24, 50931 Köln, Germany
  2. Join the virtual meeting. Please note that all times below are in CET (Central European Time).

In either case, please register by January 25, 2022, using this link:




Part I        

15.30    Welcome and introduction

15.40    Thinking sideways: drawing as a way of seeing, writing and knowing

Steven van Wolputte (anthropologist, Belgium,

As a form of creative non-fiction, ethnographic novels –or drawing in general– open up a venue for seeing differently and writing and thinking ‘sideways’. Apart from outreach, they also create possibilities for collaboration. One example of such collaboration is a recent collaborative project (with Richard Ivan Jobs, Pacific university) on the life of a French explorer-adventurer in the 1930s. The graphic novel consists of a mash-up based on  photographs and a film he made while on expedition in the Mexico-Guatemalan borderland, and on the radio talks and interviews he gave back then.

Steven Van Wolputte is professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at KU Leuven, Belgium. He mainly published in the domains of political anthropology and of popular/ material culture. More recently his interest was drawn to graphic anthropology, resulting in a handful of graphic novels exploring the possibilities of ‘sequential art’ for writing, thinking and communicating.

16.00    2 scriptwriters and 19 female artists on women's suffrage in Switzerland: a collective project mixing personal experiences and historical data

Sarah Waeber (anthropologist, Switzerland, co-author

As a child, I wanted to be a comic artist. I have finally ended up as an anthropologist specialised in environmental and social actions. I am currently working between scientific research and creation of fictional narratives: alongside my research activities - STS Lab, University of Lausanne - Institute of Human Sciences in Medicine, Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) - I am also working in audiovisual production as a director and scriptwriter. In addition, I recently co-wrote the script for a comic book produced with the Swiss feminist collective "La bûche". 

16.20   Comics collaboration and remix

Frederik von Reumont (geographer, Germany, co-author

I studied geography and cartography in Aachen and Vienna. Since 2011 I have been working for the Institute of Geography Education at the University of Cologne. In 2016 I started my PhD project about the use of comics in geography education. Here I could combine several of my professional and personal interests and passions, namely comics and maps. There has been a lively exchange between my research and my creative work ever since. I have published two book-length comics via crowdfunding, Currently I am working on a science comic summing up the most important results of a research project about migration of early humans (SFB806).

16.40    Break    

Part II  

17.00    On the way towards a four-delta comic 

Beatriz Belo (artist and journalism student, Brazil,

Karis Gruben (artist, Canada,

Pamplumus (artist, Senegal,

Thant Myat Htoo (digital artist, Myanmar,

DELTA Project team (anthropologists, Germany,

Here, we will present our work-in-progress on creating a comic with stories from the four river deltas, where we did ethnographic research, in cooperation with four artists from the study regions.

My name is Beatriz Belo, I am an illustrator, designer and journalism academic, born in Macapá-AP, in northern Brazil. My relationship with comics starts from a young age. I started reading with Turma da Monica comics, a Brazilian classic by Maurício de Souza. After that, I was passionate about illustrated stories and that motivated me to start drawing too. Today I work with illustrations with a focus on the editorial area and I like to bring the experiences, colors and visuals of Amazonia into my productions.

Karis Gruben is an Inuvialuk painter, carver and beader from Inuvik at the border of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region and the Gwich’in Settlement Region in what is today Canada’s Northwest Territories. She currently lives and works in Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories. Gruben, a multidisciplinary artist without limits, enjoys the creative process and loves all art styles. Gruben has been inspired from a young age by her father, the late William Gruben, a renowned Tuktoyaktuk carver. Currently placing an emphasis on realism, she portrays a brilliant sense of strength in femininity. 

Pamplumus is a Senegalese artist whose practice blurs the line between fine art, illustration, and visual design.Pamplumus' work is deeply rooted in the city of Dakar where he lives - its textures, noises, smells, rhythms. The internet is the sandbox in which he constantly creates, explores, deconstructs ideas. His work often features puns, wordplay, and humour. He is one of the first artists from Senegal in the blockchain.

"I don't set out to produce art about one subject or another, I blur the line between fine art and illustration by constantly thinking of the meaning behind my work but also of its visual appeal. My work tends to focus on the environment I live in, the noise of my city, Dakar. I use Senegal artistic heritage as a starting point for moving forward. I use digital pigments, thus I define myself as an Internet artist, the Web is a sandbox for me which I use to constantly create, explore, destruct ideas and concepts, sharing them with my viewership in a very interactive and iterative fashion. I make art because it's bring me freedom and joy, but also access and money. Art allow me to enhance my people's life by gifting them visual entertainment and food for thoughts."

Thant Myat Htoo is a comic artist who has created well known comics stories in Myanmar such as Ma Phae Wah (The Yellow Ribbon) and Dassa Mehana and many other short comics stories. Born and have lived in Yangon since 1997. Start freelancing since 2015. His specialty includes Concept Art, Story Boarding, Editorial illustrations and Comics. Since childhood, he was overwhelmed by the children's comics books and his passion grew as an adult who became a comic artist himself now has ultimate plans to create astonishing comic books and stories to introduce the taste of 'Myanmar Comics Industry' to the rest of the world.

Short bios of DELTA Team members can be found on the Project Website

17.20    Collaboration and Anthropological-Storytelling in Comics

Coleman Nye (anthropologist, Canada, co-author

Sherine Hamdy (anthropologist, USA, co-author

Sherine Hamdy is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California Irvine. She is the co-author with Coleman Nye of Lissa: a story about medical promise, friendship, and revolution, which was the inaugural book in the University of Toronto Press ethnoGRAPHIC series, illustrated by Sarula Bao and Caroline Brewer. She is also author of a current Young Adult graphic novel about an Egyptian-American girl that is under contract with Penguin and illustrated by Myra El Mir. Hamdy is Series co-editor, along with Marc Parenteau, of University of Toronto Press' ethnoGRAPHIC series. 

Coleman Nye is Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in Canada. Her research and teaching works across the fields of feminist science and technology studies, critical race and gender theory, and performance studies. She co-authored (with Sherine Hamdy) Lissa: a story of friendship, medical promise, and revolution, the debut graphic novel of the ethnoGRAPHIC series at University of Toronto Press. She is currently completing a monograph Biological Property: Race, Gender, Genetics which mines the epistemological linkages between genetic understandings of relation and property-based models of inheritance.

17.40     Zwarwald is difficult to translate

Leo Leowald (comic artist, Germany,

I work as an illustrator and comic artist in Cologne. Since 2004 I have been drawing the semi-autobiographical comic strip Zwarwald with now well over 2500 strips. For me comics are a natural way to communicate. I find the short form of the strip ideal, which enables me to quickly implement different thoughts and everyday observations, mostly combined with humor. Although I usually start with the text, language and drawing play an equally important role. In the past few years I have taught regularly at the Ecosign - Academy for Sustainable Design and was part of the comic collective Herrensahne.

18.00   Discussion

19.00   End