Thursday, April 4, 2013
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Private Detective Kapil is a character close to my heart for many reasons. Most of the things I learned about writing and drawing comics were during this period. I suggest if you wish to be a Comic writer, start with a suspense story revolving around a certain character. You would learn how to start the story, how to rearrange different incidents in the middle of story, as to keep reader entangled and guessing, then to end the story with a twist which would stun the reader. Mind you, this twist has to be incorporated in the story from beginning or mentioned earlier, not to be concocted out of blue in the end, barring some exceptions and variations, of course. (like a clue from which stems out the whole theory of crime).
The toughest thing I faced during this period was; How to shake off influences both in writing and illustrations, from various quarters! I loved Artworks of so many artists and so many writers made me gasp. I should be drawing like him or I should be writing like her, and then that gnawing inferiority complex telling me that I am good for nothing! Then I learned, being influenced is not bad at all, rather it is good, just don't try to copy. It is similar to learn and memorize something and then reproduce it as your own version, in your own words during examinations. I made friends with my foes, and they became my virtual teachers. Whatever I learned to qualify as a professional was through Western Comics. Sorry to say, but Indian comic then did not try hard enough to imbibe professionalism.
I learned to my dismay that we always stopped short at the level of acceptability while Westerners try to achieve the level of excellence. Even to this day, our country has no place to go for those who either want to learn professional writing or professional Illustration, let alone sequential art.
Illustration is taught only as a small part of graduation curriculum in art colleges and that too without guidance. Learning Concept or fantasy art is left for winds to carry. Result being we become a nation for production doing nothing in Pre-production which comprises 60-70% of a project! Think, folks and if convinced take the issue to others and spread awareness and create demand. Let's become bosses rather than workers!
Oh, oh, oh! I went too far off tangent. Beg your pardon, folks.
Kapil did many things for me, I still want to revive him, but there is one thing he was not!
He was a fictional character but not a Fantasy! And Fantasy was the castle I wished to breach!
The opportunity came from a very unlikely quarter. One Mr. Maanvendra Singh Rathore (Sorry if I can't recall the name correctly) from Gwalior, with political background and intellectual leanings arrived at S. Chand & Company with a story called MAHAMAYA KI TALWAR !
Be back soon, folks!
Friday, June 4, 2010
Allow me, friends, to make one thing very clear in the beginning; this Blog is not about my life history! I just felt that in order to understand the composition and sequential art as I do, you have to know how I did!
Again, you are not supposed to take it without analyzing on the basis of your own logic and strengths.
I was lucky to have the opportunity to peep into the world of commercial drawing without any training at all, let alone professional guidance. The best thing about being a cartoonist is that you are both writer and artist of your work, mostly! I think, this was my first encounter with my future self. One more important thing; I found out to my utter disbelief that one can actually earn through this medium! How much, however, remained a matter of conjecture.
I kept commuting between Delhi and Kanpur with Sukhwant , invariably staying with his relatives, who were very kind and excellent host.
My first real success was a cartoon strip in Diwana Tej, at the time when Pilpil Silbil and Motu-Patlu ruled the roost. I kept studying and kept trying simultaneously and then I was asked by destiny to choose a path.
It was exactly 1st January 1979, when I was sitting in front of charismatic Gulshan Rai, who offered me a full length 48 pages comic Tau ji, which was to be published under his new venture, Diamond comics! It was in cartoon style. Though I just passed my higher secondary with flying colors and got an offer from BITS, Pilani, I respected the gesture of destiny and chose to remain with my heart. I was certain I was not capable of riding two boats at the same time. It was a foolish decision, seconded by many, but supported by my parents! They knew I would try my best to excel in any field I decide to take.
The die was cast and I had become a published professional!
I was just 16 then, but already I was adding panels in the original scripts to make it more sequential. Noboby objected as nobody was bothered. But after just a handful of books, I was becoming aware of limited access of cartoon style in Comic field. I wanted to switch to realistic art, and I got this opportunity when I was given my first superhero series Fauladi Singh.
I handled it pretty badly though readers were not complaining. There was a sea of difference in analyzing something already on paper and a blank page where one has to decide everything right from scratch. This was learning in real and believe me, folks, it was quite tough and diminutive when you consider that your work is surrounded by the books of demigods of Industry. But I kept on improving at a breakneck pace and within in 4 years of my 1st comic, I started finding my feet.
Artwork was proceeding towards satisfaction but stories were a very different issue. They were too simple in nature and presentation was unprofessional to a great degree.
For the first time I thought of writing my own stories, a task which I never undertook before, though I read a lot and was conversant with many classic and popular styles of writing. Now all my efforts done previously came handy. Like every other artist, I was too a fan of western comics, but with a little difference. I not only analyzed the illustrations but stories and their continuity too.
I created my first real series Space Star for Chitra bharti; a comic launched by S. Chand & company. This series was heavily influenced by Star Trek series and my background as pure science graduate came quite handy. But this series had no chief protagonist and to correct this mistake I created my first Character Private detective Kapil in 1983.
My journey was gathering pace!
Sunday, May 30, 2010
I'm so happy, friends! Got some thought provoking reactions which shows that I am starting to succeed in initiating comic-crazies to think towards betterment of this classic form of expression!
Now back to the past, which incidentally never passed!
Amar Chitra Katha did one most fabulous thing to Indian Comics; It brought stalwarts of sketching to panel art. Mullick, Waerkar, Vitankar, Fernandes and so many of them! It also made many publishers realize that India is now ready for its own brand of comics with its own artists and own content!
The revolution started in North with Diamond comics at helm. But that was later. Before this happened, I had to jostle with my destiny to veer it from its course.
In March of 1972, I got admitted in class 7th in Central School , IIT, Kanpur. I used to be a brilliant but apprehensive student and School was a good 13 KM away from my residence, a huge distance for a city like Kanpur. Couple it with fact that I had a creative bent of mind and result becomes evident. This totally new environment took its toll and my downward slide began. By the time I passed 8th , it got worse. I just made it marginally to qualify for science stream (considered a mark for brilliancy)in class 9th . Nobody was more ashamed about me that I, myself. My apprehension was morphing into panic as now I had to compete with some of best brains of best school in the region! I told you I was apprehensive but I forgot to mention that I was equally proud of myself. Always was since I could remember. I believed in myself!
I picked up and picked well without any outside help. My aim was to become an engineer and by God I would have had, as I passed Higher Secondary with distinction in all subjects, but my destiny failed!
Since I got admitted, I was impressed by one of my 2 year senior, the flamboyant cartoonist Sukhwant Singh! He was an established cartoonist by then and competing with likes of Pran's SHRIMATI JI in Sarita magazine with his CHARAN DAS in Mukta magazine. My only contact with him was through regular cartoons he used to draw on School's bulletin Board.
I do not know whether it was his love of cartooning over formal studies or my destiny, but he could not clear 9th not once but twice; reasons being medical and technical and suddenly he was my classmate! I wager it was my destiny as he never failed to clear again! I instantly developed a rapport with him!
He led me to inside of commercial cartooning world and my first cartoon published in Mukta In 1974.
My 3 single paneled cartoons published successively and I received a cheque for Rs. 45.00 for my efforts.
It was not the money, but my acceptance in the world of cartooning!
My heart was already casting doubts over my earlier decision to become a technically qualified person; An engineer!
As for Great Sukhwant, he wrote Movers & Shakers and many other shows, currently writing the lines for Great Comedian Raju Srivastava!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I decided to start this blog because I have a lurking feeling since last 10 years that comics are losing their identity fast. Instead of spearheading a revolution in media, they have become heavily dependent on other media for their survival. Just as Indian film music did before the advent of FM!
The basics of comics are being decimated under the garb of 'change' and 'creating something new'. The trend started from West and seeped through us as we always were blind followers. West is also grappling with diminishing sales, churning out magnanimous content without substance. Superman had to die to live, Batman had to look for clues to his survival and Spiderman was saved not by web but by a movie on him which was ironically based on content of his earliest comics from which publishers are desperately trying to break away in search of 'something new'!
Comic is a story told in sequential art form with the help of illustrations; simple as that!
But somewhere down the line, composition was sacrificed for dramatic drawings (which were earlier reserved for titles), Line sketch lost to coloring as coloring is thought to make even an less than average and disproportionate artwork look attractive (In current scenario, colorist may tell Illustrator to use as fewer lines as possible because they interfere with his coloring), Story lost to cinematographic presentation of content as more is left unsaid and scenes are dragged right up to nth part of the series!
Reader is getting a poor bargain; A story which could be summed up in 10 pages is dragged to 50 , Sharp-edged inked artwork which have a power to imprint themselves on our brain is replaced by hazy edged paintings, hiding more than showing and leaving an equally hazy memory if leaving at all.
Result; Good illustrators and storytellers are turning towards other opening, leaving nothing which could hold the slide of comics. These are my observations and not necessarily agreed up on or accepted by all.
But this is how I see the things presently.
Comics may again become a ground for good storytellers, illustrators and compositor, where an Illustration by Perez revealed a world which invariably took me 2 hours to unravel, or a story which always threatened readers to snatch away from this physical world, and a feeling after finishing the book as if one has just finished watching a movie in stills with all scenes vividly fresh in memory; only if we change basics but not distort it or decimate it!
But this was a brief interlude, friends. I'll be back with 'MY FIRST STEP IN GRAPHIC WORLD' very shortly!