Can graphic novels, comics, move into the much harder world of illustrating modern conflicts and humanitarian issues? Ben Dix, who for many years worked for international NGOs in Africa and Asia, thinks that they can, so much so that his original graphic novel, The Vanni, to be published in 2019, is at the core of his Doctorate in Anthropolgy.
Dr Dix worked with the UN in North Sri Lanka for four years during the recent terrible conflict in that island, and the traumatic experience led him to found PositiveNegatives, a non-profit organisation that provides comics on contemporary humanitarian issues. He is also founder of Why Comics?, an educational charity which turns comics produced by PositiveNegatives into free educational resources.
With Ben will be manager and researcher Elettra Pellanda, who, after long-term experience in volunteering, joined PositiveNegatives early last year and has since been working extensively both in fieldwork research as well as comic production. She collects stories that cover topics such as Roma issues, migration, gender inequality and climate change.