U.S.-based Melvin Mathew opens a cartoon gallery in Dubai

The only cartoon gallery in India (off M.G.Road in Bangalore)is now exhibiting works of the cartoonist, illustrator, graphic design and animator who started the first cartoon gallery in Dubai. Melvin Mathew, a post graduate in animation from San Francisco's Academy of Arts began drawing cartoons when he was five, as he watched cartoons at home. He has worked in a lot of studios, including Cartoon Network. “But most of my projects were scrapped. In the world of cartooning, only one or two out of ten cartoons that are made go on air,” he says.

Melvin loves cartoons like “Garlfield” and “Y- The Last Man”. His cartoons don't really have a fixed theme and cross almost every genre and medium in the world of cartooning. “I'm inspired by everything around me — mainly people. This is because in the United States, where I live, people aren't really into political cartooning. But in India, I see that there's so much content for cartoons. Although I think Indian cartoonists need more exposure,” says the thirty-year old who was born in India and brought up in Quatar. He currently lives in the United States.

Most of his cartoons seem to be funny cartoons with caricatures of people, situations and animals. There were intricate black and white sketches, bright and colourful puffed animals, an almost Asterix-like series on Vikings, which he says he drew for a Norwegian friend (who had one of them tattooed), even an abstract series on a hunter and a wolf.

There was a caricature characterising two streets in his town (in winter)- Fullmore and Eddy, which he represented using what appeared to be a white bear and another smaller animal standing next to each other in snow. “I have seen that youngsters prefer cartoons in bold and bright colours. Young adults like energetic, gothic cartoons while teenagers prefer more sophisticated cartoons in pastels. I usually sketch it out in ink and colour it digitally before adding a touch of background with watercolours. But I make sure it's not perfect so that the computer doesn't win. I think digital cartoons are not organic,” he explains patiently.

“I'm more of a goofy guy, and I just instinctively draw whatever comes to my mind,” he confesses.

He still believes in the impact of cartoons.

“But most cartoons reflect what's happening and what people think. This is because cartoons, unlike speeches or sermons, are sarcastic. People don't take them seriously, but still think about what they are trying to say. I guess this is why people prefer watching funny shows on politics rather than the news.”

On opening “The Cartoon Art Gallery” in Dubai, Melvin says: “I became a member of the cartoonist's institute in America and India to support the art. I happened to notice there are very few galleries for cartoonists in the world. As far as I know, there are only two galleries in America and one in India. So I decided to start my own gallery in the Middle-East.”

He hopes to shift his work there. “I'm gradually trying to move there and start working on cartoons on social issues, things like women's rights and global warming. I know that it will be difficult in the Middle-East, but I'm going to try.”

The exhibition of Melvin's works is on until July 23 at the Indian Cartoon gallery, at Midford House off M.G.Road between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. except Sundays.