Turban tales

Turban tales

I was living in the US during 9/11, and the first victim of the fallout was a Sikh man, who was mistaken for being an Arab or Taliban, and shot dead. And the number of hate crimes against Sikhs has continued. There is also racial profiling at the airports. I felt it was important to bring to the mainstream that we are peace loving people from India. Of course a comic strip alone cannot achieve that, but every little thing counts,” says Dalbir Singh, sharing the idea behind creating SikhPark, a comic strip revolving around the community and their life.

The strip, which also aims to cater to the Punjabi and Sikh people of the Diaspora, shows the community to be “smart and witty”.

“We have shown Sikhs to be totally opposite of the jokes that usually show them to be of less intellect. Here they are smart and witty, who come up with funny one liners, always have the last laugh and some self depreciating humour,” says Singh, who does the artwork for the strips himself.

“I think most Sikhs in general do not care about Sikh jokes. It also shows the maturity of the community that that they are able to laugh at themselves,” he adds, sharing his views on the Supreme Court’s decision to consider a ban on ‘Sardar jokes’.

It was while he was in Canada, helping a friend design his site which was on art and culture of Sikhs in the Diaspora when they felt it could do with a comic and humour section, and Singh thought of doing a Sikh comic strip. “When we were looking at names, the first name that came up was Karol Bagh because of large population of Sikhs and Punjabis there. Then we realised lot of young NRI Sikhs may not be able to relate to it. So we thought of calling it Karol Park, but it didn't sound good, and SikhPark came from there,” he tells Metrolife.

The comics are in graphic 2D style, and talk about everyday subjects like food and visas, among others. For ideas, Singh says he just has to “look around my own family and relatives. It’s all there”.

“I try to look into Punjabi insights. So there is a lot of comic on food, clothing, visas and immigration. There are some which are topical. For example, when a Sikh gentlemen was named the Canadian Defence Minister, we did a comic on him. Recently, a Sikh basketball player in US, called Darsh Singh, was targeted in racist meme attack on Facebook and Twitter, I made a comic on him. But the topics are the one that the community can associate with and relate to, be it the popular Punjabi culture (we had one
of rajma chawal that went super viral) or a hate crime somewhere in the west,”
he explains.

But then, have there been any instances where people have felt offended by your comic?
“You will always find one or two people who may find some comics offending. Usually I ignore, but if there have been some people who would find everything offensive and post abusive comments, I simply block them. Luckily I have had to block only two to three people in the entire period of SikhPark. I however have made a conscious decision to stay away from religion and politics; makes it more difficult and challenging to come up with ideas,” he says.