Reena Puri and Rajani Thindiath: The Wo(W)men of the Indian Comic industry  

It’s not an unknown fact the Indian comic industry has been there since a long time. In fact, India has a varied number of storytellers and there’s plethora of creative minds who have kept us all engaged with their witty, inspirational stories. We all have been introduced to comics at some point in our life and have been fond of them since those encounters. To name a few comics that’s been there since ages are Diamond comics, Raj comics, ACK and Tinkle comics and they all have been entertaining us with various tales be it in educational, historical, gag filled or stress busting forms. However most of them have been written by the male counterparts and we hardly get to witness any woman contributing majorly in the comic world. But hold on, we got two amazingly talented women maestros in comic industry who have been enriching kids and adults alike with their creative hard work. Seems like ACK media has treasured the two bright gems, ACK’s editor Reena Puri and Tinkle’s editor, Rajani Thindiath. Way back  in 1991, Reena Puri’s journey began at Tinkle as she joined as the Assistant Editor to Anant Pai. Reena learnt everything about comics under the guidance of her true inspiration Anant Pai who was a talented veteran in the comic world. She recollects, “Apart from Uncle Pai, my mother has been an inspiration for me for she believed that I was the world’s best story-teller.”
Reena Puri
Reena’s journey in the comic industry was overwhelmed with creativity as she had a gala time creating adventures for Shambu or wicked plots for Tantri in her initial years. Later, it started seeping in that the comics were actually reaching out to children and influencing their thinking and their growing up. And that was when Reena thought of changing Shambu into a conservationist – a job he used to do with passion! Mopes and Purr, the crime-busting detective duo, were created to make children aware of animals and their rights. Following Uncle Pai’s belief that children absorbed ideas like sponges, Reena admits that the biggest challenge and responsibility was to give children a safe, clean and value-based entertainment. And responsibility grew as she became the editor of Amar Chitra Katha as Uncle Pai quietly drew away from active work. Reena led the new editorial team by creating new titles keeping the heroes of the current generation in mind. On the death of Uncle Pai she says, “Though his passing away was a huge shock I realised that he had left me so well-equipped to continue the work that the writing and the illustrating went on seamlessly. In Tinkle and ACK, the editorial has always been women dominant and therefore, has served the purpose of women empowerment silently. Reena exclaims, “I hope it has been a place where the women employees/artists could let down their hair, speak out their minds and create a beautiful world for children. And during difficult times at home or at work, I hope I have been able to give them some comfort and strength.” Conveying extensive stories since years, Reena has reached out to young minds by making them aware of their rights and responsibilities. She has striven to create in each one of them that self-esteem which is extremely important for survival, particularly for the girl child. Believing that her work is her greatest accomplishment, Reena encourages the woman folks, “Believe that you are good. Believe that you are strong. Believe that the world is looking up to you for that change that it needs.” ‘Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life’ this quote suits best for the young, enigmatic Tinkle editor, Rajani Thindiath. Since she was a kid, Rajani always knew what she didn’t want to do. Having just that one thing in mind and not much of a direction, Rajani studied various courses starting with Bachelors in Arts (Psychology), animation from MET and finally pursued a course in Journalism. Working at Navneet Publications as a writer also gave Rajani a chance to dabble and work on the Sandy Bandy comic strip. And finally she realised that her passion for writing was more inclined towards comic as she got the freedom to come up with original stories and landed in Tinkle as an Assistant Editor in 2007. Rajani recollects, “I can never forget the day I joined Tinkle for it was not just my joining date but Uncle Pai’s birthday. It’s a memorable day which will be cherished forever.”
Rajani Thindiath
Rajani says, “Having studied psychology in the past, it helped me to understand a child’s mind and perceive different ways to deal with them. Even the smallest of things created a huge impact on their minds, and that’s one thing I have always kept in mind as they are our readers. Animation has also helped me in a big way as certain aspects like storyboarding, key frames, panel visualisation and camera angles are similar in comic strips too.” Being an assistant editor, Rajani had the opportunity to write many stories and has contributed in the Defective Detectives story. After four years, being promoted as an editor, she played around the storyline of the existing characters keeping in mind that their characteristics remained intact and readers could still connect with their favourite cartoons. She also introduced the Super Weirdos comic strip and A.L.I.E.N.S (seen in holiday special issue). Last year Tinkle also started with Tinkle Awards wherein readers could choose their favourite stories and characters. Rajani’s biggest supporters have been her team and parents. Whenever she faced any difficulty, the team used to brainstorm and think of how to overcome it. She says, “I have a really good and supportive team. And when I became the editor at Tinkle, my parents were pleasantly surprised. Though I have skipped many fields, they have supported me throughout my journey.” For Rajani, just like Reena, working for Tinkle is her biggest accomplishment. Rajani too encourages the aspiring girls saying, “You need to have a lot of passion coupled with persistence to achieve your dream. Always keep your dream alive and one day you will achieve it.”