A lot of people come up to me today and ask, “Why and how did you get into comics,” and every single time I answer this question, I’m thinking, “What can I possibly tell them that’ll make this choice sound earth-shatteringly different?” And almost always, it is the usual cliche, “You know, this is entirely driven by passion and so I’m in this full time.”
Part of that is true, the rest is upto the person who is into it.
Cartooning, illustration and comics – not many have gone down this path, as career options. For those who have, they’ll tell you how genuinely satisfying it is to do something you have always loved. In fact, that’s what I have lived by and has been inculcated in me right since childhood – do what you love, love what you do.
I always wanted to be a comics illustrator ever since I remember, and a part of this drive in me was due to an early exposure to comics. I remember reading (and collecting) comics from a very young age, maybe as young as four or five. I may not have understood anything that was written, but I was always attracted towards the artworks. I recollect reading Tintin and Asterix back when I was in class one, and then taking up Tinkle comics and Mad magazine when I was in class three or so. This played a very important role in my thinking and ambitions.
Art-wise, I am self-taught. I have never received any formal training in art whatsoever. I did my Bachelor in mass media and right after that I completed a one year diploma in 2D classical animation. I was at a juncture where I could choose advertising or animation as my calling. But I went ahead with both, since I used to work in a company called Personiva, which was into ads as well as animation, and I actually learnt a lot while on job. I used to freelance right from my college days and kept doing that. I later went on my own and focused more on comic projects and animation. My portfolio by now had magazines, newspapers, websites et cetera for which I had drawn illustrations, but Tinkle was my first big entry into the world of comics, back in 2004.
I started publishing my own comics from 2011, thanks to the Comic Con in India. As an illustrator and publisher, there are various challenges one has to face, but seeing a comic out in tangible form and getting people to read it has a feeling that nothing else can match up to! People talk about cashflow, credibility, outreach and audience. But I strongly feel, if you have it in you, you would know for sure how to tackle all this.
I think eventually it is all about the choices you make. I know of several talented individuals from my school and college days who used to draw very well, but they didn’t follow up on their talents in pursuit of the usual professions or careers, the likes of doctors and engineers. I completely understand their thought process on this, but letting go of talent is quite a sad thing to do. So I do hope everyone and anyone with any talent must keep at it, if not professionally, at least on the side. That way, you’d never lose touch with what’s in you.
So, I would say that if any one of you readers loves drawing comics, or writing them, please keep sketching and creating small sample strips and maintain a sort of a portfolio. You never know what opportunities may come knocking at your door.
(Abhijeet Kini is an illustrator-animator, running a creative service called Plan B and Abhijeet Kini Studios, taking up projects ranging from animation, web and comic publishing. He has been illustrating for newspapers, magazines since 1999, starting with Mid-Day, Timeout India, Timesgroup and then going on to Hindustan Times, DNA, Tinkle and others.)