In conversation with Aazar Anis - Creator of Instagram's First Ever Graphic Novel

Posted on 3 September, 2015 by Team Wishberry

11700679_882524888500338_4906560284984698514_o Storytelling via imagery is one of the best ways of expressing. And using Instagram for that very reason is brilliant. A classic example of this is Delhi Hectic - one of the most popular webcomics in India- started by  Aazar Anis and Arjun Jassal. See what we’re talking about HERE! Aazar has now moved to Mumbai and has been working on the Bombay version of this series, obviously called, Bombay Hectic. We get into a conversation with Aazar on everything that goes into making this visual treat possible. Read on.  

Creating the first ever webcomic series on Instagram is such genius in its sheer simplicity! How did an idea like this hit you?

Aazar: Arjun and I are avid Instagrammers. Back in 2012, we were in that phase of life where we decided to shake ourselves out of the rut and catch up with everyone. As Delhi is a city we grew up in, meeting people, their friends, and so on, was very easy. Soon, we had stories to tell, stories of people we met, places we had been to and things we discovered about the city. And since we were rabid fans of graphic novels, we decided to try our hand at our own little monster. Sadly, it didn’t work out, and that’s when we thought of using the myriad Instagram pictures we had amassed collectively. It sounded extremely simple and brilliant. That is how we began. 11717328_890989594320534_8079951833878106245_o

Delhi Hectic received an incredible response. Did you expect it? 

Aazar: Not at all. We didn’t expect the sheer craziness surrounding it. At one point in time, some people close to us actually stopped chilling with us because they thought we’d write about them! But apart from all that, it was very humbling to have every national newspaper in India and then a few magazines pick up on our little story and do a spread on Delhi Hectic.  

Delhi Hectic’s ‘Chapter XI – House of the Rapist’ it’s intense! Was it written after the Nirbhaya case? If yes, how do you tread a path so sensitive?

Aazar: Yes, that chapter is inspired by that case and the anger both Arjun and I felt during that difficult time for our city. But there was a lot more to it than that. Both Arjun and I have seen Delhi go through strange times, but the amount of anger and violence it has meted out towards women in recent times is just incomprehensible, and beyond anything that may be considered rational and humane. The sad and horrible part of being in Delhi, especially if you're a woman, is that everyone has a horror story of their own; getting letched at, eve teased, groped, being followed home. The city has been numbed by this cycle of violence that keeps on repeating. Sometimes not saying or doing anything is the most violent thing a person can do, and Delhi is always full of bystanders who'd rather stand and stare than get up and do something. That chapter is about this frustration with Delhi, about how helpless the entire city feels. 10968328_600662076702159_1717919764802441377_n

All of your copies are cryptically dark, while being strangely comical. Who has been your inspiration in the writing scene?  And why the metaphorical captions?

Aazar: That is because the city is a dark place to be in. It truly is hectic; so is every other city, but in a totally different way. I guess we also unconsciously wanted to treat the whole thing with a neo-noirish tone. We kept the pictures dark at times so the words over them can pop out and stand apart. Like I said earlier, both Arjun and I are huge graphic novel fans, and we both love Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Isaac Asimov, Neal Stephenson, William Gibson; we were also  inspired by the web series known as A Softer World. 11930938_906257266127100_8630923287570047679_o

After moving to Mumbai, what has been the most challenging aspect of this city? 

Aazar: After living in a joint family for 27 years, I've never slept alone, or had my own room, and am used to human noises always being around me. Silence is a big challenge for me, but I’m slowly getting used to it. But, I am loving it here so far!  

Life in a city like Bombay is tedious, and working in an ad agency is… well... difficult. How do you manage to do it all and handle the webcomic series?

Aazar: Well, since we are making a list, I also do other bits of writing on the side, dabble in poetry (have managed to author two books in the past), attend readings now and then, and also try to compose music via guitar, and am currently trying to form a band here. So I guess the age-old cliché is true: ‘We all find time for the things we love’! But also, I sleep very little - six hours every day. I write whenever I can, whenever inspiration strikes me. I guess I’m hectic too. Curious to know how you can raise funds for your next comic like how Aazar did? Just submit your details below and we will teach you how you can crowdfund successfully! [gravityform id="14" title="false" description="false"]

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