On Kickstarter, Visual Journalism Is Alive And Well

Progressive site Truthout looks at the growing movement of comic book/graphic novel writers and cartoonists tackling journalism.

Comics journalist Dan Archer has drawn comics about the 2009 Honduran coup and the 2007 Nisoor Square shootings. Joe Sacco’s “Palestine,” based on two months of on-the-ground reporting, is considered a seminal work of comics journalism.

But recently, there’s been a new way of doing comics journalism that doesn’t require a book deal.

Cartoonists Ted Rall and Matt Bors traveled to Afghanistan in 2010 on $25,000 raised on the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter. The resulting book is going to be picked up by Farrar, Straus & Giroux for a 2012 publishing date.

On a smaller scale, Sarah Glidden rose $2000 to fund a trip to the Middle East.

Truthout says:

For the uninitiated, Glidden’s quest to report from Syria without journalistic experience or funding and to do so in comics, may seem laughable. Yet Glidden, whom I talked with after she returned from traveling to Iraqi Kurdistan and Syria with a group of veteran reporters from the Seattle-based Common Language Project, might be the first to laugh. She told me she is in awe of great reporting and is fully aware that she isn’t a reporter and that comics are not a medium that the average reader takes seriously.

And while many readers may not take her chosen medium seriously, Glidden, also observed, the average American reader – her 30-something urbanite friends in particular – don’t take serious news seriously anymore. Her friends “hate journalists, distrust the media and want to tune out.”…By contrast to the typical, sterile establishment reports from Iraq, Glidden’s comic report is full of life: she thrust herself into an underreported story half-way round the world, spending her own money and devoting countless hours translating interviews into images and shaping an accurate and compelling narrative that brings her subjects to life and, hopefully, “tricks” her world-weary friends past their cynicism.

Could this be the first wave of successful crowd-funded journalism projects? We hope so.

A screengrab from Stumbling Towards Damascus is below.