“We believe comics can change the world”: Ten Years to Save the World champions the diversity and power of the medium
Launched in response to the climate crisis, the project highlights ten emerging voices in the comics world. Half of which are based in the UK and half based in the Philippines.
- Jyni Ong
- 11 November 2021
Comics are an impressively versatile medium. It’s something we’re reminded of time and time again here at It’s Nice That. Whether that’s through the immersive details of Viktor Hachmang, the laugh out loud stories by Hyesu Lee, the so-gross-but-can’t-look-away comics of Alex Jenkins, or this op-ed on why comics have the power to transform education for neurodiverse people. All in all, it’s safe to say that comics can communicate pretty much anything.
A new comics anthology created by ten leading comics artists – five based in the Philippines and five in the UK – was launched in response to the climate crisis. Titled Ten Years to Save the World, the thoughtful compendium is a collaboration between The Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Philippines-based Komiet and climate change communications specialists Creative Concern.
Commissioned by the British Council’s Creative Commissions, a programme set out to explore issues of climate change through art, science and digital technology, Ten Years to Save the World hopes to stimulate global conversation and provide a little entertainment along the way. Available to read online now, the anthology features the talents of Manix Abrera and Kajo Baldisimo with Budjette Tan, Sayra Begum, Darren Cullen, Ren Galeno, Emiliana Kampilan, Kevin Eric Raymundo, Zoom Rockman, Jack Teagle and Clarice Tudor. Today, we speak to three of the collaborators involved in the anthology. First up is Julie Tait, director of The Lakes International Comic Art Festival who tells us the story behind the climate change-themed volume. She tells us: “We firmly believe that great things happen when we collaborate!”
Now in its ninth year, the festival wanted the new anthology to push an urgent message: “We have ten years to make the big changes required to save our planet,” she adds, “it’s as simple as that.” Showcasing a range of creative styles from the realistic, the surreal, the humorous and the dystopian, Ten Years to Save the World displays the diversity of the medium while shining a light on some of the brightest new voices from opposite sides of the world. “We believe comics can change the world,” says Julie, “art will always be a method for us to make sense of our world, to document the changes we see around us and crucially, to drive the changes that are needed in society. Art has the power to shine a light in the darkest places of our planet and our soul and to seek out hope and solutions. Comic art is the perfect art form to tackle the most pressing issue of our time.” In this way, Ten Years to Save the World exemplifies the different ways comics can communicate a similar message. Through a myriad of formats, shifting grids and points of view, the anthology is a testament to how comics are endlessly surprising and, in turn, exciting. For Julie, the art form can be summed up like so: “There is no human emotion that comics cannot convey.”
Elsewhere, we speak to comics artists Jack Teagle and Clarice Tudor on their respective designs for the anthology. Jack’s focuses on the greenwashing and hypocrisy of single-use plastics, a material he’s familiar with since he used to work in a warehouse. “Even at that level,” he tells us, “seeing the huge amount of waste produced in the transport of soft drinks was shocking. I guess I wanted to present my feelings of dread with as much impact as possible!” With his own practice, Jack tries to be as sustainable as possible by sourcing quality materials. When he makes prints, he uses Riso because of its eco-friendly plant-based inks and because the stencils are made from banana leaf fibres.
He also works with Lino cuts as they are are “very low impact” and he can make them from the comfort of his small home studio. For packaging, he uses recycled or biodegradable materials and on top of this, he reuses anything that is sent to him too. Scraps of paper from previous artworks are made into handmade sketchbooks and bothered by the number of plastic casings he once went through, he now carefully chooses which pens to use, opting for long-lasting fountain pens and refillable casings. All in all, Jack’s comic aims to convey feeling over the hard facts, teasing out the absurdity of our system through dark humour and without being too preachy. He adds, “to get across the cycle, hypocrisy and logistics of single-use plastics in a dark but fun way. To bring across the ideas in a very bold and impactful way that would stay with people when they are browsing through social media on their phone.”
Another artist well known for turning a depressing subject into something funny is Clarice Tudor. Here at It’s Nice That, we’ve been pretty obsessed with Clarice since she first graced our screens a couple of years ago. So much so, that you can find a more detailed rundown of her comic in this article published a few days ago here. She tells us: “I find audiences are more willing to listen to whinging if it’s funny whinging,” and in this way, comics-making is akin to an act of catharsis for Clarice. Letting her frustration loose (“this project was free therapy!”) Clarice does what she does best and turns the urgent rings of disaster into something to chuckle at. The artist’s comic focuses on how much of the climate change chat relies on personal responsibility rather than putting pressure on the people in power. While it’s essential to take responsibility for our own carbon footprint, Clarice points out: “I want to encourage readers to use some critical thought when it comes to these prolific greenwashing campaigns. I think we should poke those with the power to enact change whether that be through boycotting, protest or hand-drawn fat cat memes.”
Response & Responsibility – Cop26
During the next two weeks, over 120 world leaders are meeting in Glasgow to agree on the actions needed to pull the earth back from the brink of a climate catastrophe. The most important conference of our lifetime, in response, we are exploring creative responses to the climate crisis throughout the duration of Cop26.
Ten Years To Save The World: Emiliana Kampilan (Copyright © Emiliana Kampilan, 2021)
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.