Regional comics on the forefront with Bengali comic Hattagol

Comics in India seem to be booming what with original comic strips in newspapers and big names such as Virgin, Fireworks Productions, and Illustrated Orchids joining the bandwagon. Now we have another name to add to the list ‘Elseworld’ from Kolkata. And what’s more they are publishing Bengali comics. Established in 2004 by Arijit Chowdhury and Subhashis Ghosh the first edition of the comic series called Hattagol was released this September. The comics will be available in a magazine format of 32-64 pages, a collector’s edition of 48 pages and a graphic novel of 80-90 pages. Currently the creators of the comic book series are targeting children between the age group of six to sixteen years but plan on publishing collections for higher age groups as well. Characters in the comic series include Chandrakanta who is an investigator; Panna, a green cat; Teenmurti who are three friends; Vibakdas, a day dreamer; Tik the lizard who is also a private investigator, Gobordha, the magician; Bichhu and Bing Bo and Khude. Speaking about why the initiative to create an original comic strip came about Arijit and Subhashis shared with Animation Xpress.com, “Some of the publications that we enjoyed reading immensely were shut down 90s and the lack of good quality in Indian comics created a huge black hole in our minds, while more and more foreign comics started entering directly into the Indian market. That was the time when both of us felt and realized that comics were not only for entertainment but they have a lot of potential for human emotions and shades.” We are avid readers of comics such as Indrajal comics, Tintin, Asterix, Roy of Rovers, DC superheroes and many other comics published in Bengali magazine ‘Anandamela’ and also of Bengali comics of legendary Mayukh Chowdhury, Narain debnath, Tushar Chaterjee. We felt that it was our calling to start a comic book series of ourr own” they added. Subhashis Ghosh started his career as a freelance visualiser/illustrator for British Oxygen’s Circuit magazine. Thereafter he worked on various animation projects for Akash Bangla TV channel and Sony, India. He also worked for VoxWagen, GBS, EDS, Circuit City, Cisco, Digitalthink and several other TVCs and magazines. Arijit Dutta Chowdhury started his career with the famous ‘Sandesh’ patrika. Then there were no looking back. One after another offers came to him from big publishing houses from across India such as IBH, Delhi Press, Orient Longman, Anandabazar Patrika, B4U and more. One of his well known creations is the comics of ‘Tenida’ in Anandamela recently. Subhashis and Arijit started the comic with a sole motive that their series must carry a variation of stories and must not be a wagon of superheroes only. There should be every colour of life ranging from humour, anger, agony, fear, thrill, tragedy, bravery, adventure, horror, laughter, historical and science fiction, in other words a gourmet of stories for the readers. Elaborating on the look and style development, the creators quipped, “For the last decade or so, we have found that there are various drawing and writing styles that have been developed in Indian comics but most of them seem to imitate the American drawing style. Our first goal was to find out drawing styles which had not yet been published. We learnt that were so many ranges of drawings and story telling styles, which could depict a tone or shades of different kinds of stories and hence decided to incorporate those in our comics. The styles could be sketchy, water coloured, gothic or it may be a mixture of realistic and digital art. The basic idea was to use the best one which suits the story. There are so many ways to express a story in visual format and we don’t want to lose it and will unfold each style gradually.” Subhahsis and Arijit concluded by saying, “Talent in India is emerging, but we still need to understand the thin line between illustration and comics. Most of the good artists are extremely talented illustrators, but they still need to learn the art of story telling. The most dangerous thing is that Indian comics creators tend to imitate American comics which overshadow their talent. Art should not be copied ,it must have it’s own identity.” connect@animationxpress.com