The implementation of the unique project “Ukrainians. Progress” was implemented thanks to the TransformWISE intellectual agency. The presentation of the first issue of the comic took place on March 15 in Kyiv. As part of the event, the concept and idea of creating a painting was discussed, as well as thinking about the topic of the semantic dimension of the russian-Ukrainian war and the formation of the basis for our victory. The author of the idea of the illustrated stories is Denys Bloshchynskyi, the founder of the Foundation for Social Innovations “From the Country to Ukraine” and the strategic communications initiative “Semantic Corps”. The comic was published with the support of the intellectual agency TransformWISE, printed thanks to the publishing house “Nash Papir” and presented in the space of the NGO “ISAR Yednanya“.
Participants of the discussion:
Lyubko Deresh – Ukrainian writer.
Denys Bloshchynsky is the author of the ideas for the series of comics “Ukrainians. Progress”, founder of the “Semantic Corps” initiatives and the Foundation for Social Innovations “From the Country to Ukraine”
Volodymyr Pavelko is the founder of the TransformWISE intellectual agency, co-founder of the Global Cyber Cooperative Center.
And also invited guests in Q & A format.
A comic book is unique to society. Because it played an important role in the construction of contemporary Japan and the reconstruction of post-war Japan in the late 1940s. People with wooden backpacks began to appear in the city, selling the first manga comics. In the illustrated stories, the theme of the future was actively developed, which over time formed the consciousness of a generation of Japanese people. This is what built the advanced Japan we see today. In this sense, the comic is an important tool for social construction. Because through it it is possible not only to talk about guidelines for the future, but also to work through certain traumas of society.
I would also like to mention the example of another comic created by the American artist Art Spiegelman. This is a story about the Holocaust of the Jewish people, which is told in the painting through the analogy of the lives of mice and cats, where the cats begin to exterminate the rodents. The story has a deep meaning, because it is based on the life story of grandfather Art Spiegelman, who went through difficult trials in those times.
That is, the comic can become a point of study of acute social problems, and also helps to talk about difficult things with different types of audiences in a very simple way.
We see that the greatest complexity is simplicity. And the comic is a methodological approach to explaining complex things in a simple language.
Denys Bloshchynskyi is not only a poet, a creative person, a representative of the “From the Country to Ukraine” Social Innovation Foundation, but also a comic book lover and a person who transfers certain stories from life to paper. So Denis, what does the phenomenon of comics mean to you?
My personal story related to comics began in a period when I did not even perceive them. But 10 years ago, I was faced with the task of creating a universe for a certain corporation. I turned to the Marvel Universe. Studying their stories, my team and I created a dark corporate universe with images, descriptions, etc. We got so immersed in the process of creating comics that it made me rethink my views on the genre. And I understood their power when I saw the results of the implementation of this concept. When people began to perceive certain things while playing. After that, I began to use the idea of superpowers, superheroes in the business of various projections. And when the time came, my team and I started with the idea of publishing comics.
Quite an interesting story, thanks!
Now I want to turn to Lyubko with the question of the emergence of the phenomenon of comics in Ukraine. What does it mean, when and where does a Ukrainian comic appear and under what circumstances?
The magazine “Sunflower” was one of the first editions that printed a section with comics. These were children’s stories, the heroes of which were Cossacks. Previously, there was no Ukrainian comics environment, it mainly followed Western and Japanese models in terms of its subject matter. However, the Ukrainian style of comics began to develop from 2014, as something through which you can look at the modern world. And with the beginning of a full-scale invasion, the comic book genre quickly began to respond to the events.
I would like to add that the series of images with short stories is part of a larger palette. Therefore, when we talk about the emergence of Ukrainian comics, the increase in the number of plot ideas, this means an appeal to the state of society, which became the guarantee of what is now. In 2014, my team and I noticed that there was a demand in society to search for new meanings. And comics, as a genre, are an answer to requests and contain the powerful force of quick reaction of humanity.
Denis, tell us about the idea of the comic and about those who created them.
The people who created the sketch are professionals, but they do not specialize in comics. Our team of artistic illustrators, copywriters, screenwriters, and producers gathered in the format of the “Semantic Corpus” project in the first days of the war. In the first half of the year, we created more than 60 different projects, one of which was the creation of the comic “Ukrainians. Progress”. During the design process, we came up with 17 ideas, of which 12 scenarios were described. We compiled the stories into 4 issues.
The comic became a story about the heroic deeds of the citizens of Ukraine, who do not yet realize that they are heroes, but people nearby identify their actions, saying that this is our hero.
In the first issue, we collected stories about the military, namely: “Kyivskyi privid” (air force), “Saper Skakun Vitaliy” (ground troops), “Spirit of the Snake Island” (Ministry of Internal Affairs and a unit of border guards), “Zaluzhny God of War” . A special feature of this issue is that there will be a 2nd part.
The construction “to come” is sewn at three levels: tactical, operational and strategic. The first level is turning pages and understanding the continuation of the plot. The second level – when reading the narrative, it forms a picture and you are waiting for the continuation. The third level is a restart of one’s own reality for the reader, a manifestation of intrigue. That is, drawn stories allow you to suspend yourself and think about the question of who you really are.
It’s incredibly interesting because we’re talking about the influence of comics and the imagination. In this case, it would be appropriate to recall Einstein’s words: “Knowledge is limited, but imagination is limitless.” Because it is which creates new knowledge. That is, we see that comics are one of the intellectual tools for developing imagination, developing a vision of the future, and constructing a new world.
I join the comments of my colleagues and want to add that such a publication can make us different. Because this is a feature of every well-told story, and the Georgian philosopher Merab Mamardashvili hints at this. He said that history is a myth, a tool or a mechanism for rebuilding the human in a person. A tool for transforming a person and going through such stories, you become different either in a good way or in a bad way.
If we consider the issue from the point of view of semantic security, society is interested in stories that destroy a person, make him stronger, and show certain virtues in him. So the power of storytelling in comics is capable of awakening a person’s orientation to light. And a well-constructed story is the basis for rebuilding a person’s personality, the basis for rebuilding a civil society.
We have harmoniously moved on to the influence of comics on people. As Nietzsche said, in trying to become a superhuman, a man becomes a man. This is precisely about the upbringing of the human in oneself, which does not have a mechanism of reproduction, and we must work with this.
Dear speakers, why is a similar technique needed in literature today and how does it affect the russian-Ukrainian war?
For me, this is a question of a working nature, i.e. since 2014, I have been traveling in the territories close to the front line, and it was the full-scale war that showed how the russians occupy our cities. First of all, they enter schools, take collections from museums, rethink identity, waste time and resources… This dimension in the development of russian and Soviet special services is clear and we should not respond to it. We must try to exist, to create, to design, to develop certain things that will shape reality based on the ideas that we can think. And comics, as a separate tool from this palette of things, are important because they have a high concentration of the hero phenomenon. And the heroic path, characters, superpowers are extremely highlighted, but in fact, such extraordinaryness in actions helps to record the phenomenon of the maximum of virtues within a person, to which we can strive. And thanks to the literary and visual line in the comic, there is an opportunity to make a certain instrument unique. Such an experience will allow the reader to compare his own with it. That is why the first series of “Ukrainians. Progress” will tell about the dimension of the hero.
That is, working with a painting, we develop the human in a person, improve ourselves, realize our identity. Denys aptly spoke about the steps taken by the russians, who are occupying cities and besieging russian narratives, trying to stamp out Ukrainian identity. Therefore, such a comic is not only an answer to a question, but also a foundation that we build and prove to the world that we Ukrainians have something to say.
Very important things were said by my colleagues. I agree with the fact that we should not react to the challenges that already exist, but on the contrary, proactively think about them in advance. One of the important lessons of occupation and de-occupation is that wherever there is a cultural, informational vacuum, it will be filled by someone or something. It will definitely be something hostile. Therefore, it is important today to understand the challenges that we will face with the appearance of new de-occupied territories. And thus, in advance, I propose to fill the vacuum and implement the actions of society based on virtues and values.
Summarizing our conversation, I would like to emphasize that comics are one of the tools that help to recreate in Ukrainians the identity of free people who are focused on their history.
You can watch the presentation in video format on our YouTube.