How Onomatopo is spreading edutainment in Gujarat through comics

Pumpkins Enterprises chief of research and development Prateek Verma
With each passing year, more interesting and intriguing comics foray into the comic stands. Some pack a punch in its storytelling, whilst some allure with its colourful, vibrant graphics. New Delhi-based Onomatopo treaded the same lines with their recent publication Akbar-Birbal aur Kitaunuon ka Aatank. But the only difference? It was published in Gujarati! A creative vertical of PepperScript, which also provides graphic design and animation services alongside children’s book publishing imprint, it was an initiative to educate the young, school-going kids through the means of comics. Pumpkin Enterprises (which owns the PepperScript venture) chief of research and development Prateek Verma explains, “Going vernacular expands the horizon to reach out to children who might not be comfortable with standard English or Hindi. The comics in Gujarati have been created to target the kids in Gujarat who are deprived of basic quality education. The comics have been distributed in various parts of Gujarat.” “Our mission is to create edutainment campaigns in and around comics to guide and preach kids about various educational topics which they can easily relate to and comprehend better through graphics. We wish to create comics in all vernacular languages to reach out to children who feel more comfortable to communicate in their home language.” The comics, have been conceptualised, designed and developed by the in-house creative agency. It entails the much storied Akbar-Birbal tales with a comical twist, to educate children about various daily activities based on cleanliness and hygiene. “The whole intention of featuring Abkar-Birbal was to bring about a feeling of wit and intelligence among children as they are amongst the most famous characters in India and have been passing on their legacy over many generations,” he states. “The idea had been on the table for a very long time and once we knew it was happening, it took us about 2-3 months create a tangible product.” He also reflects on the challenges they contented with, during the making – “The ultimate challenge was to understand the mind-set of kids and their level of acceptance. Kids segment is one of the toughest markets to capture as their decisions change very frequently as do their likings.” The likening to the comics though, was unanimous as it was received with positive reception and Prateek Verma is all smiles when he says, “The response has been phenomenal! The kids liked them instantly as they found Akbar-Birbal stories very amusing to read through but also comprehend the message between the lines.” This has encouraged the team to now release the same comic in other languages too, with Marathi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam in consideration. “Let’s wait and see how it evolves,” says an upbeat Verma. When asked about upcoming projects, he adds – “We are always working on something new. With Onomatopo since August 2017, we are trying to get much closer to children through comics, obviously, and also through children events where we engage them in games and activities, making sure they never leave us without winning a gift. We are involved in creating CSR material and are providing our creative services to corporates as well.”