Graphic novels have the great potential to provide very special access to historically and politically difficult topics. The medium allows the reader deep insights into the protagonists and is therefore capable of showing various views and levels. In addition, the visual narration attracts more senses than a non-fiction book. To formulate these insights and to foster these experiences, participants of the project “Narrating the conflict” worked with this medium in an intense and practical way over three days in Chernihiv.

The workshop started with input explaining all the necessary steps to create a graphic novel, as defined by comic artist and theorist Scott McCloud. Based on the characters and scenarios developed during the second workshop in Berlin the group wrote dialogues, changed scenes and discussed the visualization.

The group, consisting of ten civil society activists, one illustrator and one artist from Ukraine, worked on nine stories which will cover different aspects of the conflict in Ukraine. All the stories are based on interviews with people who live in the conflict area or have had to leave.

Guided by author Yuliya Dzhugastryanska and historians Imke Hansen and Alesia Kanachuk all the participants developed their own scenarios. Moreover a background story was created to link all the individual stories. Intensive discussions commenting on on all the drafts alternated with group work. In order to better understand dramatic compositions, participants acted out their scenes and visualized their first ideas. After struggles in the beginning, the work flow improved considerably. Within only three days the foundation for the graphic novel had been laid.

Meanwhile it has been discussed how to use the graphic novel once it is finished. Some participants would like to work on concepts for education, others would like to create a moving exhibition and combine it with extracts from the novel. In either case the graphic novel should serve as a starting point to talk about the conflict and its impact on the people – both inside and outside Ukraine.

In summer the two artists of the project team will produce drawings of the stories. Before finalizing and printing the novel, the group will discuss the artists’ drafts in Kiev by the end of July.

The project is financed by the German Foreign Office and supported by the Ukraine-Calling-Programme of the Europa-University Viadrina, the Robert Bosch Foundation and the German Association of Researchers of Ukraine.

Project manager: Imke Hansen, imke.hansen[at]
Coordination: Anne Reis, anne.reis[at]

Project partner: