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A quick word with Abhijeet Kini, doodler extraordinaire!

12 Oct

Hi Abhijeet. Its great to have to speaking to us today hopefully we’ll get lots of info out of you on whats ahead!
So its been almost nine months since the Delhi Comic Con, and we are now edging towards Comic Con Express – Mumbai. Excited?
Totally! Having the comic con come to my city was something I had always been waiting for, and here it is!
The horror… (Click to enlarge)
What made you decide to take a booth this time around at the convention and what can your fans expect to find there?
I had a lot of interactions with people at the Delhi Comic Con, without a stall to start with, and it was nice to see people finally being able to put a face to the names they’ve read in bylines – mine being one of them. So I decided to go for one this time around and have people know where to come and find me. Also, I’m going to be having some limited edition merchandise, featuring my artworks on it. Also on sale is an ambitious project I have been working on along with talented Delhi-based writer Anupam Arunachalam, called “Milk and Quickies”. We are completely looking forward to have people read this one!
Whats next after UBiMa? We have heard rumours of a sequel and there are definitely fans of the character looking to see more Bee-hari action – any light on the horizon?
Haha, I have heard similar rumours about the sequel too. And if they are true, well, the Bee-hari hunk would be back soon…we’ll have to wait and see. Besides this, I have been busy over the last few months with a couple of comics for Tinkle (more on that soon) along with the usual Tinkle stuff I do (Butterfingers, Defective Detectives, Sea Diaries, etc), and also some independent projects, one of them being “Milk and Quickies”.

Are you planning on or currently working with Adhiraj (Singh) on any other product? What was it like working for a loon like him?
I’ve been interacting with Adhiraj since early 2009, as a contributor to Random mag. It’s always been fun doing so, as with his writing one can never expect what’s to come next. If you liked Ubima, there are some crazy stories in Random you need to check out, which I had fun illustrating.
UbiMa with his creators! (Click to enlarge)
Currently I guess both of us are busy with our own things, especially with the comic con round the corner, but we’re in touch. So let’s see what’s on the anvil.
Tell us about the birth of UbiMa and how you became a part of it all.
Ubima has been featured in Random a couple of times in the past, under the “Badly Drawn Comics” section. There was even a special feature booklet released along with one of the Random issues. I had always been reading it, thinking this to be one of the strangest comic creations, and always doubted the seriousness behind its creation. But when Adhiraj and the folks told me about their idea to revamp the series and release it as a full fledged comic, I was excited about it. They wanted a new-ish look to the character, all polished up, and yet keeping it edgy, staying true to its original “badly drawn” nature. I came up with something they liked, and hope the people liked too. As Adhiraj puts it, the first time he tried drawing up an Otter faced man, it ended up looking like a dog. I kinda kept that consistency(?) and maintained the “dog-faced-Otter-Man-thingy”. Don’t ask
What are the things keeping you busy these days?
Like I said, “Milk and Quickies” has kept me quite tied up in the recent past. It’s a very different read, considering the tone of the short stories in it. Very twisted at times. Anupam has provided great stories for it, and not to mention, the title 😉 In fact one of the stories from the book was picked by Warren Ellis and featured it on his website along with some other entries for a 3 panel comic competition. To us that was huge! The comic is called the BOX. It will be a part of “Milk and Quickies” and we would be having a limited number of prints at my stall at the comic con. Besides this, Tinkle projects have been on my schedule. I also illustrate for magazines like Timeout Mumbai and Dimdima. And of course, Comic Con. The Mumbai skyline crowd shot was done by me for the Twentyonwards/ComicCon guys. So yeah, been a packed last few months.
(Click to enlarge)
Do you think you’ll do more creator-based/owned projects down the line or would you prefer working through the publishers as is the more common and practiced route?
I would love to have my own series, that I create and own, that is. I have a number of ideas, but I haven’t really pitched them out yet. I feel they aren’t ready. One of my such creations would be featured on my merchandise. He is called “Gryll” and I have a storyline ready, called “Out of the shadows”. Gryll has always been my best bet for a pitch, and he has been featured in Sunday Midday, in a feature on Indian Superheros. Let’s see if that concretises sometime. Tinkle has published my “Julius and Bork” series for 3 episodes. These are my characters and I do the scripts for the same. That’s another series I would want out in the market. Till then, I have my plate full with the common and practiced route.
Is there anyone in the current crop of comic creators in India you would like to try a project out with?
I’m open to any good scripts/concepts/writings/writers/creators.
Have you thought of a purely Hindi Project as an option? Being the most widely spoken language and mother tongue and all, you can’t get more coverage than that, can you? Does the language matter to you as an artist?
It did when I was younger, as a kid. Somehow, Hindi comics weren’t quite there for me as a reader. But I was wrong. The reach is superb and some of the concepts and storylines are far superior than anything we have read in the English stream. I don’t have any issues with the language used in the comic. After all, it’s the concept that matters to me. UbiMa, though not 100% English, isn’t a vernacular book, but it’s very different from all my earlier works. Language wouldn’t matter at all.
If we could just side-track a little bit – what is it that makes you want to draw comics? Where do you get the passion for this medium instead of more acceptable and profitable artistic careers?
I have always been an avid comics reader and collector ever since I remember. And I always loved scribbling and drawing ever since I remember. And I’m glad the two perspectives met. Also, I am thankful of the fact that I have supportive parents, and not those who would flog their kids into becoming a doc or an engineer. I was left to choose what I wanted. Plus they never said “No!” to buying the comics I wanted…ever 😀
Wicked!!! (Click to enlarge)
Could you tell us a little about your art style and your approach to the process?
I kind of experiment with style. Butterfingers in Tinkle is way different than an UbiMa. The stuff I do for Timeout is extremely different than what I used to illustrate for Hindustan Times Café Mumbai. My major influence is MAD magazine. I have been reading MAD since I was in class 3. Sergio Aragones is someone I have idolised. So when it comes to the funny, quick stroke styles, I kinda keep Sergio in mind, “What would he have done” sorts. For Random mag, I had a blast illustrating the stories, as that was the closest I got to unleashing the MAD humour illustrations.
How is it dealing with publishers in the Indian industry for an aspiring artist like you once were?
It wasn’t great first up. There were rejections from people who showed themselves to be supportive. Firstly, the main challenge I faced was to convince people that I do a decent job at illustrating, though I haven’t received any sort of formal art training. I am self taught. That fact suddenly used to make them back off. I played it safe. I started freelancing for newspapers and mags. JAM was where I had my first freelance break while in junior college. Mid-Day happened when I was in degree college. So I could build my portfolio there. Got my by-lines there. And then treaded carefully into the comics domain.
Before we take your leave, any parting advice and tips for comic artists in the making?
They have it much better today. A lot of people are open to comics as a means to make a living, both as contributors and publishers. Comic forums have multiplied, the Comic Con has a following now, new comic series launched every month. We didn’t have it this good back in our day. I’d say make use of what’s out there and don’t screw up!

Thanks so much for making the time for this Abhijeet, we’re sure all your fans appreciate it – we know we did! One last thing before you get back to bringing great stories to life, could you tell us some of your favorite artists, writers, characters in the current era, india, global and all-time?
Sergio Aragones. All time fave. Almost all the artists of the 80’s era MAD were great. Pick an old issue and see if you can stop laughing just by looking at the art, forget reading. I am a Gary Larsen fan too. His humour is out of this world. Back home, I’ve loved collecting Mario Miranda’s works. I think his art is exceptional.

All the best for the convention, we hope you find loads of success there and after, and we will see you and all you readers out there at the convention as well!


5 QUESTIONS with Graphic Novelist Dylan Horrocks

27 Sep

5 QUESTIONS is were I ask 5 questions of New Zealand Comic Book Creators, Writers and Artists. 

This week I asked DYLAN HORROCKS the questions. DYLAN lives 
 and works in Auckland, NZ. He teaches Art at Auckland University of Technology and advises on Comic Writing at Auckland University. His ‘10 issues of his comic book Pickle were published by Black Eye (1992-97) and his graphic novel Hicksville was published in 1998, also by Black Eye.  Hicksville has since been reprinted by Drawn & Quarterly and has been translated into French, Italian and Spanish’. Hicksville was Nominated for two Ignatz Awards (best graphic novel and best art) and one Harvey Award (best reprint collection). Winner of two Goodies Awards (best graphic novel and best writer).  Named a Comics Journal ‘book of the year.’  

COMIC ADDICTS: Who is Dylan Horrocks?
DYLAN: He’s a character in some of my comics.
CA: What made you want to write comic books? 
DYLAN: Growing up reading Tintin, among other things. My Dad is into comics, so the house always had a good supply of great things to read.

CA: Among your webcomics and printed works is ‘Hicksville’ is an award winning graphic novel about a comic creator and the comic industry. What made you decide to create a comic about the artist and art form itself?
DYLAN: Well, they do say “write what you know…” Seriously, though (I hate that phrase and consider it very poor advice), Hicksville was initially just a private daydream, built from my love of comics and my homesickness for New Zealand (when I was living in Britain for a few years). I made up a place where everyone was obsessed with comics because that’s the kind of place I dreamed of hanging 
out. From there the story grew organically, and I used it to explore stuff I was thinking about at the time – not just comics, but art, commerce, betrayal, community, love and loss – all the usual things…
Preview Hicksville here.

CA: As mentioned you create web-comics as well, what is it about creating webcomics that you think seems so attractive to comic book creators like yourself?
DYLAN: For me, the main attraction is the ability to put stuff out there regularly. It takes me a long time to finish a book, and it can get pretty lonely working alone like that. Serialising it on the web means I can show it to people one page a time. It’s a bit more like working in a shared studio, where you can pass pages around and chat about how it’s going.
CA: Is there a new work you are working on that we may be seeing on the book shelves soon?
DYLAN: Well, I’ve nearly finished ‘The Magic Pen’ volume 1 (two chapters to go), and hope to have that out next year. I should also put together a collection of my short comics stories soon. And there are a couple of other things in the works, too, which I’m doing in collaboration with other people. So hopefully the next year or two should be full of new books by me…

All Toons Copyright, 2011. Dylan Horrocks.

Aru (Aruneshwar Singh, is a writer and graphic novelist who has several unpublished works currently being worked on as well as working with other Illustrators and Artists he also illustrates his own comics. His webcomic Zero can be viewed here. Aru has a Bachelors Degree in Digital Media- Digital Filmmaking and is the CEO and Owner of New Zealand’s only Online Comic Store, Comic Trade. Facebook

5IVE QUESTIONS with Graphic Novelist & Illustrator ANT SANG

20 Sep

This new segment dear readers, is where I ask five questions of New Zealand Comic Book Creators, Writers and Artists to find what makes them tick.

This week I asked ANT SANG the questions. Ant lives and works in Auckland, NZ, He is an award-winning cartoonist and amongst his comic works is a series called, Dharma Punks and recently had his graphic novel, Shaolin Burning published ny HarperCollins New Zealand. Ant is well known in the New Zealand comic scene. And due to his creative work on the Bro’town TV Series, he has stamped his place in NZ Moving Images scene as well. 

COMIC ADDICTS: When did you decide creating comics was what you wanted to do?

ANT: I’ve drawn all my life, but it wasn’t until the mid-nineties when a friend of mine introduced me to independent comics (Chester Brown, Dan Clowes, Julie Doucett etc) that I got inspired to start writing comics ‘seriously’. The rawness and honesty in these comics really struck a nerve with me in a way that most mainstream comics couldn’t. And the underground/D.I.Y ethic was one which really inspired people to just go out and start making comics…

CA: Apart from print media you were involved with designing ‘Bro’Town‘, the animated TV series. It’s a series I must say I adore as something that really speaks to me as a Pacific Islander as well a Kiwi, living amongst one of the most diverse cultural melting pots, which is Auckland City. How did you get involved with the shows inception?

ANT: Awesome, glad you enjoyed Bro’Town! The show’s producer, Elizabeth Mitchell, contacted me when she heard about Dharma Punks when I was first starting to do the media rounds to promote that comic series. I tried out designing some of the characters and a few years later it was all on!

CA: Are there any plans for something similar to Bro’Town in the future?

ANT: A Bro’Town movie is in the pipeline, but apart from that, nope.

CA: Having a recognizable name and a resume as extensive as yours, have more offers come in because of the TV Series?

ANT: Every now and then someone approaches me about projects but I’ve really got the itch to do as much of my own projects as I can at the moment.

CA: I recently reviewed Shaolin Burning for the column, can you tell me how you were able to get HarperCollins to publish the graphic novel, since most publishers seem to stay away from comic books in NZ?
ANT: I heard that HarperCollins were looking for a local graphic novel project, so I pitched a few ideas to them and they were really keen. Since Shaolin Burning they’ve published Nice Day For a War, and another graphic novel (Kimble Bent, Malcontent) from Random House is due to hit the shelves very soon… so it’s an amazing year for NZ graphic novels!

(All Toons Copyright, 2011. Ant Sang.)

(ARU), Aruneshwar has just finished his Bachelors Degree in Digital Media -Digital Film-making. He took a semester of Multimedia earlier this year which kind of set him up for, a New Zealand  online comic store. On the creative side Aru,is writing and illustrating a graphic novel about the 30yrs of Institutionalised Slavery ofIndians in Fiji from 1885 -1915. He is a prolific script writer and writes in all comicbook genres which include several graphic novels for his own company,Rising Sun Comics.

Review: SHAOLIN BURNING graphic novel by Ant Sang

13 Sep

ANT SANG lives and works in Auckland, NZ. He is an award-winning cartoonist and amongst his comic works is a series called Dharma Punks and he recently had his graphic novel, Shaolin Burning, published by HarperCollins, New Zealand. Ant is well known in the New Zealand comic scene. And due to his creative work on the Bro’town TV Series, he has stamped his place in the NZ Moving Images scene as well. 

With the sudden interest in graphic novels and comic books in general off-late, although the basis for this has been building for well over two decades, even our (New Zealand) homegrown publishers are looking to our local talents for work to publish. HarperCollins New Zealand has just released another graphic novel this past week 

(Click to enlarge)
   The New Zealand comic community is excited and over the moon about this sudden local interest. They are after all publishing what some in the local publishing world it seems, regard as low art and therefore not to be taken as seriously as a regular novel. Not to mention the fact that it usually takes around a year to two to complete a decent graphic novel. But, …it’s an amazing year for NZ graphic novels!” as Ant put it, when I asked him this week about how he ended up getting his graphic novel published. 

(Click to enlarge)
Ant, although I have never met him in person, has a real playful nature to him, as well as that certain “Asian serenity”. I mention this because his replies to my questions were warm, at least I felt they were. Being a person who works through about 80-90% of his waking life, I tend to pay attention to what people write. Most of my weeks conversations are done through email, chat and Facebook messages as I’m sure a fair amount of yours do as well.
   Now back to Ant. Shaolin Burning is a tale based on myth, legend and Chinese history. And as those who are familiar with Kung-Fu films will know it (shaolin) is the most important school of the martial arts in Chinese history. I am no expert, so I will leave explaining it there.
   The graphic novel is a beautiful piece of work mixing serene action sequences and visual drama with character that I instantly fell in love with. This is tragic story and one with lost heroes trying to make a mark in their world. Its a tale of revenge with sweet moments of forgiveness and yet filled with horrifying and  brutal sword fighting scenes as heads are decapitated and body parts are hacked to pieces. All this and yet the ending leaves you with wanting to read more. 

   The story is of a 15 year old orphaned girl, Deadly Plum Blossom, who having been rescued from drowning by her father and thrust upon her adopted mother (which actually is something that happened all too often to female babies back then) She has grown up being taught a new form of Kung Fu by her mother, who teaches the art within a year rather than the normal six needed to be a master.
   There is a really humorous piece of dialogue and it just reminds me so much of Bro’Town, which Ant had a part in helping create. 
(Click to enlarge)

“Grow some nuts, lil’ boys!” Tong fighter to gathered fighting gangs, challenging them to a fight and no one wants to fight, due to the fact the Tongs kill for a living. “You guys have been fighting girls too long!”  
Deadly Plum Blossom to her friend Mouse, “I reckon I can take him on…”
“Blossom! Forget it. You got nothin’ to prove to ’em!” Mouse replies back.
I am serious these pigs need to be taught a lesson,” Deadly Plum Blossom.  

And this is the playful nature of Ants writing that I feel comes out in this book so well. The book is filled at times with great amounts of violence and then suddenly you see these little moments of backyard peer pressure. 
   When I got near to the last 15 or so pages I wondered how it could be tied up in a nice little conclusion given that there were only so many pages left. But wallah! loose ends were all gathered together. 

(Click to enlarge)

I haven’ read much Manga and the ones I have are written by old masters of the art, such as Blade of the Immortal. The English language versions and the restructuring of the panels to be able to be understood by a non-Manga reader has done a world of good to attract more western readers. Shaolin Burning is written with English readers in mind, there are no multi-direction panel structures reminiscent of standard Manga. 

Having read Shaolin Burning the only thing I am unhappy about is the cover. Its seems that the person who designed the cover has no idea what a graphic novel cover should look like. Its a horrible if no terrible look for a book so colorful and full of action. To be blatantly honest, I would have rather gone with the back cover as the front. Its almost like the designer wanted people to be put off by the cover. I know I was at first. But I was won over by Ant’s Bro’Town work. 

Do not be put off by the cover. 

Purchase here.

(ARU), Aruneshwar has just finished his Bachelors Degree in Digital Media -Digital Film-making. He took a semester of Multimedia earlier this year which kind of set him up for, a New Zealand  online comic store. On the creative side Aru,is writing and illustrating a graphic novel about the 30yrs of Institutionalised Slavery ofIndians in Fiji from 1885 -1915. He is a prolific script writer and writes in all comicbook genres which include several graphic novels for his own company,Rising Sun Comics.