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For Sikhtoons-walla, It's All About the Dastaar at Comic Con
Sikhtoons to Launch T-Shirts

By Anju Kaur, SikhNN staff writer, Washington Bureau
Posted: Thursday, October 06, 2011 | 04:11 pm

Gallery

Photo Source: Vishavjit Singh

"New York City is diverse, even in its distortions and biases... In the subway, people are thinking Arab or really funky beard. In my head I'm imagining New York City's diversity. They’re thinking Taliban." ~ Vishavjit Singh, Sikhtoons creator, on his new cartoon for Comic Con, the second largest pop culture convention in the country.

>> Launch Gallery

Photo Source: Vishavjit Singh

A Sikh Captain America defends the dastaar in this special cartoon created by Vishavjit Singh of Sikhtoons.com for Comic Con, the second largest pop culture convention in the country.

>> Launch Gallery

Vishavjit Singh, creator of Sikhtoons, will be the first Sikh at the largest comic convention on the East coast, showcasing the dastaar.

Billed as “the biggest and most exciting popular culture convention” on the East coast, New York’s Comic Con plays host to the biggest names in comics, graphic novels, animation, video games, toys, movies, and television. According to its Web site, Comic Con attracted more than 96,000 attendees last year, easily making it the second largest comic book and pop culture gathering in the country.

“For me, it’s time to go there and showcase my work,” Vishavjit Singh said. “…Go to venues where Sikhs have not gone.”

Comic Con began in San Diego in the early 1970s as a small gathering of artists and comics, and has grown into a large convention where big movie studios and production artists promote their work. It branched to New York City about seven years ago. This year, it will run from Oct. 13 to Oct. 16.

“New York City is diverse, even in its distortions and biases,” Vishavjit Singh said. “It’s really unfortunate that 10 years after 9/11 you would think they would know. (But) they still don’t know who Sikhs are.

“By my being there, and by the message through my art, people are going to learn a little bit about Sikhs, an introduction,” he told SikhNN. “Be it just people who are coming or artists who are showing their work, a little introduction is better than no introduction.”

New York-based Vishavjit Singh began creating political and cultural cartoons about Sikhs in the early part of 2002. His work was published in the now defunct Web site sikhe.com. He then created Sikhtoons, his own Web site, showcasing all his work. Today, his cartoons are syndicated on many Sikh Web sites, including SikhNN.com.

But attending professional events such as Comic Con was not on his radar until recently.

“You wouldn’t know about these events unless you are into comic books and frequent certain stores,” he said. Vishavjit Singh attended a comic festival earlier this year where fellow artists suggested he attend other such events. Those who have seen Vishavjit’s work at past events always remember him when they again run into him, he said.

“Its reinforces the idea that it is great for us (Sikhs) to be out there.”

While most events for this year were booked, Comic Con still had tables available for display.

Vishavjit Singh has created new 8-by-10-inch prints for Comic Con, all about the dastaar, the Sikh turban.

“The message is breaking the ice - don’t fear it,” he said. “It’s about breaking down initial barriers.”

He is also launching Sikhtoons T-shirts at Comic Con. He recently began experimenting with printing his message on T-shirts. The first one he made and wore had a cartoon of him with a bubble, saying: “My head covering is downright Sikh,” the title of his last book.

People get off cell phones to comment on his shirt, he said. Some burst out laughing, or just come up and say it is cool.

“I just get incredible responses,” he said.

Other T-shirts have slogans that can be worn either by Sikhs or anyone who feels that they stand out. If they are a success, he will make them available for sale on the Sikhtoons Web site.

Comic Con is a huge moneymaking and networking and opportunity, he added. Vishavjit’s new book, an autobiographical sketch, is nearly completed, and he is looking for a publisher to publish and market it.

“If you can’t market, you can never achieve success,” he said. “You need an incredible marketing strategy.

“Making it big within our community is impossible,” he added. “ I have talked to other artists and authors, and they all say that selling books in our community is very difficult. Our people are not into reading books, and for niche books like comic books, it’s impossible.”

“Art is best way to really communicate,” he said. “An image is worth a thousand words. Most people don’t read past a few words.

“This is a way of telling our story. We have amazing stories to tell.”

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