Through his books, Sukhbir Bhatia wishes to tell stories that today's generation missed hearing from their grandparents.
The Indian comic industry is in a nascent stage. While it still has a LOT to do in order to catch up with its American or Japanese counterparts, it's heartening to know that there are a few people who are willing to take the road less travelled to make sure this industry keeps going from strength to strength.
One such person is Sukhbir Bhatia, Founder-Editor at Probity Comics. He is one of the youngest editors in the industry and is making good strides with his studio. Probity Comics is currently publishing a series of graphic novels based on the life of Guru Nanak.
Sukhbir says his idea took shape in a very informal environment. All it took was a casual chat with a group of friends which made them realise that the stories their grandparents used to tell were being forgotten, thanks to nuclear families. So to re-introduce children of this generation to those fantastic stories, Sukhbir decided to plunge into the comics scene.
Support and motivation are major factors when choosing such careers and while most Indians would find it hard to convince their parents, Sukhbir says it wasn't difficult for him at all. “I would say I was lucky enough to have understanding people around me. I was very passionate about my work. Motivation was never a problem and our work is being appreciated in all quarters. Besides, we got support from organisations such as Sukrit and the Akal Network.”
Being an editor is no simple task and must require a lot of scheduling and time-management. But Sukhbir begs to differ. “We aren't funded by any huge corporation and we don't take donations, so there are lot of things which have to be managed on our own and we have to keep switching roles. There is no planned schedule!”
He also gives us a little insight into what exactly goes on during a typical day. “Before going into print, we do a bit of editing, work on the script, manage the content included, reply to any queries, then some more editing and writing to people.” After that, it's more of a marketing process. “Finally we go through accounting, sales, promotion, etc.”
Even though he took to reading fairly late, he says he read almost every local comic available at that time like Champak, Chacha Chaudhary, etc. Then eventually he took to Batman, Superman and Phantom. But quiz him on his favourite character and he says it has to be the old and lovable detective. “Undoubtedly Chacha Chaudhary. I remember buying that comic with great devotion and I still remember the punch line ‘Chacha Chaudhary ka dimag computer se bhi tez chalta hai!'”
When asked about what he saw ten years down the line regarding this nascent industry, he says that the most important shift will be in terms of developing content on different media. But whatever the changes, he says books will always be in demand. “Book lovers will be attracted to informative and educational books. I wouldn't be surprised to see schools adopting graphic books for teaching.”
Then finally when I asked him which superhero he'd like to be for a day, he says it has to be Superman. “The traffic these days is unbearable!”
Sharan is a III Year B.E student at RMK College of Engineering and Technology.