Art

Life, catsand a child ghost

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American illustrator and author Adam Ellis says he creates comics that he feels good about, without worrying how many ‘likes’ it gets on social media

On Adam Ellis’ Instagram page, @adamtots, his character (a bearded Adam) checks into the airport a day earlier.

The airline staff is stupefied and asks, ‘why are you so early?’ Well, that is just the point. Air travel is so cumbersome: reaching on time, checking in, waiting for the flight while hoping it is not delayed.

This experience is almost universal, so it was only natural that illustrator and author Adam Ellis would depict it. The word ‘natural’ is the right word here as Adam’s creativity is spontaneous.

“I have been told my work is real and relatable. But I try not to think about what will be relatable to people. I try to make stuff I like and think is funny. The fact that people also relate to them is an added bonus. If you try too hard to create something, thinking about how many likes it’s going to get on social media, then it does not feel as genuine. I like to make stuff that feels good to me,” says a bashful Adam, who was at the Bengaluru Comic Con 2019, held last week at Maruti Suzuki Arena, KTPO, Whitefield.

Adam adds: “The protagonist Adam is a heightened version of me. I sort of explore insecurities and quirks in a more exaggerated way. But I am not quite as neurotic as the character.”

Life, catsand a child ghost

Adam says he stumbled into illustrating as a career by accident. “I was working part time at a job that I did not like. So in my downtime, I started making comics to pass the time and put them on my blog Books of Adam in 2010 and it took off pretty quickly. Within about six months, I was able to quit my job and focus on comics and writing full time.”

In 2013, he published Books of Adam: The Blunder Years—a humorous take on his life. “Even a couple years ago I would have never anticipated that being an illustrator would allow me to attend conventions in India and Europe. I have been able to travel and talk about my art. I feel lucky.”

Adam also worked in BuzzFeed in 2015. “I was there for about four-and-a-half years and learned so much. But, at a certain point, I realised I needed to pursue things I like,” shares Adam, who even created a webcomic on him leaving Buzzfeed.

For Adam, the idea is more important than the art work. “I have seen a lot of people, who may not be the most accomplished artists, but are doing well on Instagram. That is because they are smart and funny.”

As for his creative process, Adam says: “It’s very quick for me. I just sit down at my desk, sketch, add colour, and since it’s all digital, it goes pretty quickly. Usually, from the idea to the finished product, it takes only a couple of hours and that is one of the things I love about making stuff for the internet, you can put your idea out there.”

Adam is quite open about his life. His recent book Super Chill: A Year Of Living Anxiously, which, as the title suggests, is about his emotional struggles.

His other books include Tiny Hats on Cats: Because Every Cat Deserves to Feel Fancy, which shows his love for cats. In 2017, Adam tweeted extensively about a child ghost allegedly haunting his apartment. The ghost, which he called ‘Dear David’, also began appearing to him in a series of dreams.

“That is another thing that was completely unexpected. I told a friend about it. And she said, ‘this is crazy, you should put this on the internet.’ I thought nobody wants to hear about my dreams, but I, eventually, put it out there and went out for lunch. By the time I returned, it had gone viral and was trending on Twitter. It was a complete surprise, and opened up all these avenues that I never thought I would be a part of — like there is a movie in production. Then there is Trending Fear, in which my friends and I travel around America, investigating other people’s hauntings, and that has been a strange-cool experience. We did six episodes and it is going to première in December and that just happened by chance.”

The conversation veers to his visit to Bengaluru—his first time in the city. When asked what comic he would create on his first impressions, Adam replies, “I will probably make a comment about the traffic I live in New York, so I feel like I know what crazy traffic is like. This is a completely different world, though,” he signs off.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 12:58:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/life-catsand-a-child-ghost/article30028407.ece

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