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Webcomics do the talking

Aarthi Parthasarathy

Aarthi Parthasarathy  

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Whatever the issue, there’s a webcomic to deal with it. The illustrations are simple — an inanimate object or stick-like figures. The dialogues sparkle with wit. Here’s looking at the creators of a few popular webcomics

HYDERABAD:

Crocodile in Water, Tiger on Land

Who: The two creators remain anonymous because, “We want readers to judge the work on its own merit and not have their perceptions coloured by the identities and genders of the creators. Also, being comic book fans, we like the idea of being masked avengers.”

What: When the masked avengers put pencil to paper, they couldn’t agree on a storyline both of them liked. Finally, they started an episodic webcomic (http://crocodileinwatertigeronland. tumblr.com/) on people and events, in September 2010. “It wasn’t meant to have a long life. It was intended as a trial run,” the creators say.

When: Updated each Monday.

How: There are no hard and fast rules to choose topics. “We read the news, observe people around us, read reader comments under editorial pieces. Sometimes the ideas come easily; sometimes we are struggling into the early hours of Monday.”

The technique: The drawings are simple, in some cases a television set or a microphone. “We use technique that the content needs. The TV set and microphones are characters too, representative of how big media houses and government sometime talk down to people. We use angles and positions of these objects to denote expressions. We use other styles too, characters and objects that interplay with the text. We sometimes leave little extras in the illustrations that watchful readers may catch. CWTL is a rant, so the text is often in the forefront, although we feel the images do a lot of the talking.”

Viability: “Most definitely do not quit your day job.”

Royal Existentials

Who: Aarthi Parthasarathy and Chaitanya Krishnan.

What: Royal Existentials (www.royalexistentials.com), celebrating its first anniversary, uses Indian miniature paintings with thought bubbles to reflect personal, political and philosophical angst.

When: Updates every Friday

How: About a year and a half ago, Aarthi co-founded Falana Dimka films along with Chaitanya. The two were also interested in comics and graphic novels. Taking a cue from David Malki’s comic strip, Wondermark, which uses vintage images to comment on contemporary issues, Royal Existentials began using Mughal miniature paintings available in public domain, each duly credited, to discuss feminist and social issues with an Indian viewpoint. “The feminist movement gained prominence after the Delhi gang rape incident. I wanted to figure out a style of writing that would discuss gender issues by keeping it respectful and contrast the dialogue with the opulent images in the paintings,” says Aarthi.

Viability: A filmmaker by profession, Aarthi hasn’t yet thought of commercialising Royal Existentials.

Green Humour

Who: Rohan Chakravarthy

What: There’s a tendency to dismiss discussions on issues related to environment or conservation of wildlife as rants of activism.

Do that through a comic strip and it’s easier to win over readers.

Where: Rohan does comics and illustrations “on all things green” for The Hindu Business Line, magazines, international comic strip GoComics and conservation campaigns.

When: “I was drawing for years but didn’t have a direction,” says Rohan. He took up dentistry and didn’t enjoy it. Comic strips were a pastime. In 2010, he started his website (www.greenhumour.com) and by the time he finished his course, he was sure he wanted to be an illustrator and cartoonist than a dentist.

Viability: For three years, he worked as an animation designer in Bangalore to fund his interests. He quit his job in September 2014 and devoted all his time to Green Humour. Quitting his job was the best decision, he says, nearly a year later. Contributing to NGOs, magazines and campaigns helps him pay bills.

Sarcanomics

Who: Gurudev Kallahally

What: Earlier an anonymous blogger, Gurudev started webcomics “for the heck of it” in 2011 as suggested by a blogger friend. His initial comics were “a bunch of shoddy sketches made in MS paint that could put a six-month-old old to shame.”

He showed the first few strips to friends who loved it. Before he knew it, it had become a weekly affair. Sarcanomics (www. sarcanomics.com) has a loyal following but Gurudev’s first love is writing.

How: The ideas, he says, strike him while reading the news or during long weekend rides. “Once I have an idea, I think of the people around me and see if the strip will make them laugh or smile. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. And I try to ensure that somebody else hasn’t done it before.”

When: Updated on Mondays.

Viability: Gurudev has a day job — coder at a start up.

He observes that many Indian webcomics that sprung up around 2010\2011 aren’t around today but the viability is getting better.

Gurudev says he isn’t looking at earning through his comics because it helps his stay independent without editorial restrictions such as ‘no jokes on celebrities’.

Gurudev says, “A lot depends on the content and after that the creators’ efforts to generate word of mouth. If you get that right, you can pierce through the initial prejudice that Indian webcomic creators are either not funny or rip offs of famous international artists.” Gurudev says he isn’t looking at earning through his comics because it helps his stay independent without editorial restrictions such as ‘no jokes on celebrities’. “A lot of people get away with drivel and somebody has to make fun of them for it, even at the risk of becoming unpopular,” he says, adding “The mob mentality here is to laugh at jokes as long as it’s not on them.”

Uncubed and PC Weenies

Who: Krishna Sadasivam

What: Uncubed (uncubedthecomic.com), which began in 2007, is semi autobiographical. “I created Uncubed to document my experiences as an Indian kid growing up in the US in the late 70s/80s. To the average American, our names, culture and language were strange. I was never quite American and never quite Indian,” says Krishna. After a search for identity, he emerged a hybrid Indian American. He chronicled this experience to share with his daughter. “In some ways, the comic also serves to entertain and educate folks about Indian culture and social norms,” he adds.

PC Weenies (pcweenies.com), takes a satirical look at new developments in the computing world along with reviews.

When: PC Weenies updates thrice a week — Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 

How: Krishna teaches full-time at Media Arts and Animation Department, Art Institute of Tampa. “At night (like Batman), I work as a designer and illustrator, managing time between professional work for clients and personal work.”

Viability: “Financially, only a few artists I know are making a living with their webcomic. It’s important to understand that you will be handling all aspects of your business — marketing, promotion, making merchandise, keeping inventory, and paying taxes,” he says. Living in the US, says Krishna, doesn’t make it easier to do webcomics. “The web is an equalizer, regardless of whether you live within the US or India.” 

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2018 8:29:41 PM | http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/webcomics-do-the-talking/article7569359.ece