Posted on 18 January, 2016 by Team Wishberry
Abhijeet Kini has been the guy behind some of the most fun comics that do an amazing job at blending humour with present day issues. His comic book Angry Maushi is much loved by anyone who’s set their eyes on it! In a time when the comic industry is full of struggles with finance and readership, Abhijeet brings us up to speed on his journey and experience so far- on self publishing his comic book, dealing with criticism and more. Read on!
What made you take up making comic books? Abhijeet: Since childhood, I have been an avid comic reader and collector. I still have the comics that I bought back in school in mint condition. And I used to pick these issues up to check out the artwork, and not actually follow the plot or scripts. So, in a way that had put me in the direction of eventually drawing and publishing comics for a living. And today I am fortunate to be able to do so, and live my dream.
What sort of obstacles did you have to overcome while creating and publishing your comics? Abhijeet: Well, obstacles wise one definitely has to tackle costs of production and distribution. Since I self publish these comics, there has to be a huge amount kept aside for printing it. But printing itself can be a big deal when you wouldn’t want to compromise on paper quality and colour quality, and at the same time keeping the expense low is very difficult. Also, the distribution of comics in India is a challenge. Big book shops were never into supporting the Indian indie scene, and now they have started shutting down too. That leaves us with online stores, which are a good way of getting your books out there. But, I have to say that the Indian comic cons are where the comics really fly. Angry Maushi the series is a socio-political satire with extreme plots and is definitely meant for adults. Making a comic in this genre can be challenging as it is not a comic just for kids.
What are the biggest problems plaguing the comic book scene in India and how can one overcome them? Abhijeet: As I said, distribution and public outlook are two major areas of concern. Even if distribution can somehow be taken care of one way or another, people’s mindsets need to change way before everything else. The notion is still that comics are for kids. People don’t tend to take local Indian comics seriously, and we see some of them actually thinking twice before picking them up. Earlier the question was, “Why aren’t there any Indian comics?” and now no one wants to buy them.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Abhijeet: I am always inspired by current affairs and people around me. I have been heavily influenced by satirical magazines like MAD, and have always seen things in that light. When I read the news, I actually subconsciously am taking down notes for plots for future comics. That shows a lot in the Angry Maushi comic series. People love the series and the characters in the 3 comic series. Some feel I have an underlying political message, which is not true. I am not here to preach. I am just showing our social scenario in a lighter vein. And I think our country offers such a variety of powerful people, from politicians to celebrities, a half an hour of prime time can get you inspired!
We all know that comics are not a very profitable source in India. How do you sustain? How do you make sure your comics have made some money? Abhijeet: It isn’t entirely true that comic is not a very profitable source in India. Maybe it is this type of thinking that gets many people to not take this genre seriously. Those of us who are into this field started out with pure passion. I know, this sounds clichéd, but there isn’t a better way to explain our lunacy. We have steered clear of the mainstream “safe” careers and have stuck to doing what we love. As you grow in your field, you pick up tricks of the trade and how to negotiate and price your work better. The more confident you are, the more you will command. But these are things only a few will pick up. We all learn on the go. And we have embraced this tough road. So those who survive end up with some good work and volumes of the same. Those who can’t keep up with the changing times won’t.
What role does social-media play in selling your comics? Abhijeet: A huge role. If one uses social media smartly, he or she can get a lot of people on board. It is not just for your ‘likes’ and RTs. Live tweeting, daily uploads of artworks, web-series on FB, twitter, these are some ways with which I get people interested in things I am doing. So, in other words, I use social media like an advertising platform.
Any word of advice for aspiring artists. Abhijeet: Stick to what you love doing. Never compromise for temporary thrills, talent is rare, if you have it do not waste it.