Gogi comes of age
KARACHI: Pakistan’s first woman cartoonist has a mission in life. She wants to make the world a better place for everyone, especially children. Nigar Nazar has been working on her message for nearly 37 years now and the person who has helped her in achieving her goal is Gogi, a delightful character who made her first appearance in the daily newspaper Sun in a comic strip called ‘Life with Gogi’. The strip launched Nazar’s career.
Gogi is a pretty and energetic young lady who has been showing a mirror to society’s flaws in a humorous and good-natured way. After many years she remains as young and energetic as she was when she was first sketched by her creator. Nazar says what began as a fun thing turned into social commenting, later on.
The launching of a book ‘Gogi’s Baby Record Book’ by Nigar Nazar and a documentary on the works she has done on social issues through her cartoons, was held on Wednesday at the V.M. Art Gallery. The cartoon segments were interspersed with comments from Nazar explaining how she had branched out in other mediums after establishing her own studio. The clippings on her social awareness programmes included health messages, puppet shows, animations, bus wrappings and decorating children’s wards. As animation was very expensive she said her social comments have been limited to ten messages only, which include cleanliness and sexual harassment on the streets.
Nazar said that the most satisfying project for her was helping the traumatized children of the 2005 earthquake at a hospital in Islamabad with the help of puppet shows, storybooks and songs created by her team. The response of the children was encouraging for everyone, including the grateful parents.
Interested in drawing cartoons at an early age and realizing her talent, Nazar wanted to hone her abilities as a cartoonist but there was no institution that taught this genre. Armed only with books she studied the Fine Arts in Rawalpindi. She created Gogi’s character using humour and satire to comment on everyday happenings. And with changing times Gogi also changed except for the constant polka dots and huge eyelashes.
When the cartoonist moved to Turkey with her diplomat husband, Gogi moved with her and appeared in two leading dailies of Turkey. Nazar emphasized that it was essential for a cartoonist to have a sense of humour, drawing skills, and awareness of the political and social scene to make a mark.
Commenting on her visit to the University of Oregon on a scholarship, Nigar Nazar said she presented Gogi’s character there and was asked to use her character in a book on the environment. Thus Gogi became international. She also emphasised the importance of pictures in children’s lives and said that speech therapists use them regularly to help children with speech impediments, and have been very successful.
At the end of her lecture, Nazar involved the audience while drawing objects, asking them to fill the blank spaces with human qualities that are required in a society. This generated a lot of interest from the participants, which left little time for book signing.