An International Webinar on Graphics was organized by the Department of English, The Bhawanipur Education Society College on Tuesday (07.12.2021) from 6 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. for the Undergraduate and Postgraduate students of the Department of English. The occasion was graced by two speakers of eminence in the area of graphics and illustration – Dr. Pinaki De and Manjula Padmanabhan. Dr. Pinaki De is a graphic illustrator-designer who regularly works for renowned publishers like Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, Hachette, Routledge, Primus, Oxford University Press, Singapore University Press (NUS), Bloomsbury, Orient Blackswan, Worldview, Pan Picador, Simon and Schuster, Permanent Black, Alchemy, Sage, Roli, Sahitya Akademi, Rupa and many others. He has designed almost 500 book covers till date. He is the winner of Publishing Next prize for the best book cover design in India twice in 2017 and 2019. His book cover for “Kalkatta” by Kunal Basu won the prestigious Oxford Bookstore prize for the best cover design in India at Jaipur Literary Fest 2017. His layout design on Satyajit Ray’s archival manuscripts has drawn accolades from across the globe. A Charles Wallace Trust Fellow, his Ph.D. is in comics theory. He is one of the editors of the prestigious annual magazine “Longform” (Published from Harper Collins, 2018) which is generally regarded as the first global comics magazine from India. He is the Indian comics advisor of Mangasia, the biggest ever exhibition on Asian Comics curated by Paul Gravett for the Barbican, London. His book length comics on Partition is due next year. He also teaches as an Associate Professor of English, at Raja Peary Mohan College, Uttarpara. Dr. De’s talk was entitled “Reading Comics”. With the help of powerful visuals as part of his presentation, Dr. De began his talk by debunking the appellation of childishness associated with the genre called comics. On the contrary, he referred to Salvador Dali who had famously claimed that “comics will be the culture of the year 3794” and claimed that this futuristic vision of Dali is already a reality in the present times when the genre called comics is used as a medium to convey serious social discourse. Dr. De provided a delightful insight into the process of actively reading comics with a theoretical perspective, illustrating at length the technicalities associated with comics with reference to the works of celebrated writers such as Charles Burns, Mc Cloud and Shaun Tan, amongst others. He insisted that the writers of comics are essentially artists and as an instance of serious social discourse communicated through comics, referred to The Arrival by Shaun Tan, which may be read as a very surreal representation of the displacement faced by immigrants. He particularly illustrated his point with reference to the end page of The Arrival which is full of portraits. Dr. De shared with the audience how this apparently innocent page of portraits also includes a portrait of Tan’s father, implying that this story of immigrants also includes his own story. The second speaker of the session, Manjula Padmanabhan is an author, playwright, artist and cartoonist, based in the USA. She worked as a journalist and cartoonist for many years before writing her first play, Lights Out in 1984. It was followed by others such as The Mating Game Show and The Artist’s Model, plus a number of short performance pieces, such as The Sextet. Her fifth play, Harvest, won the Onassis Award for Theatre, in 1997, in Greece. Two volumes of her theatre work have been published by Hachette India: Blood and Laughter (comprising the full-length plays) and Laughter and Blood (comprising the shorter ones). Her weekly comic strip is Sukiyaki– it is about a free-spirited female character called Suki, and appears on Saturdays in Chennai’s “Business Line”. Her books include Getting There, Escape and The Island Of Lost Girls. She has illustrated over twenty children’s books including I Am Different and Shrinking Vanita. Manjula Padmanabhan’s presentation was entitled “Learning to See”. She began her session as an interactive session asking the audience to draw the image which comes to their mind as they hear the word “house” and requested them to share the images with her by turning them to the camera. Absolutely excited at such a dramatic beginning, as the audience – including the students as well as the members of the faculty shared their images of “house” with the speaker, Padmanabhan explained the point of the exercise by saying that most of the images were line drawings showing a triangular roof – the image of the house that has been embedded in the popular imagination since childhood and bear no resemblance with the real houses that one sees in the city – the flat roofed house. She used more illustrative instances to show how the world of images and illustrations superimpose upon the imagination ideas which emanate from the real world around us but do not remain completely confined to it in terms of realistic representations. Padmanabhan shared with the audience her illustrations in her book entitled A Visit to the City Market published by the National Book Trust to familiarize them with the kind of considerations and questions an illustrator must negotiate while illustrating a text. For instance, if it involves two children, how should the illustrator present the children so as to depict the relationship between them or if it is a mother, what cultural considerations must the illustrator keep in mind to represent the woman in her gender role and yet perhaps make a statement which goes beyond the cultural stereotype visually connected with the gender role of motherhood. Padmanabhan exemplified through her work, especially through her choice of burnt sienna for the skin colour of Indian people against the standardized light pink used for depicting flesh, how illustrations provide the artist with a scope to make a statement without uttering a word and spoke at length abut the social considerations an artist must keep in mind while illustrating a text. The excellent and enlightening presentations made by the speakers was followed by a very interesting interactive session where the students and the faculty members shared their observations and questions with the speakers. The webinar was attended by 90 students and was conducted through the GSuite for Education made available by the College. The session was very efficiently moderated by Prof. Chitrangada Deb and was recorded by the English Department for future reference and institutional record.