Tina, Pratheek, and Prabha never outgrew the tale of Kokaachi
- a monster who would hunt and catch naughty little children who skipped their lunch. The adventures of trio only got bigger and better after they founded a publishing house-cum-storytelling studio with the same name as the monster, where mad scientists and their primate armies threaten to take over the world.
We got in touch with Tina who loves telling tales of mice, aliens, mythologies, and more to tell us more about this exciting studio and the works.
Take us to the beginning of Kokaachi! How did it all start? Tina:
It all started with Hush, a silent graphic novella written by Pratheek Thomas and illustrated by Rajiv Eipe. Pratheek co-founded Manta Ray comics with his friend Dileep Cherian and Hush was Manta Ray's first book. I first met Pratheek on a train to Cochin (Pratheek was going home for Dileep's wedding), the second time we met was at the release of Hush in Bangalore. We became good friends and a few months later, we were married!
I joined Manta Ray as a core-team member in 2012. Prabha Mallya also was a part of the team as the Art Director. Followed by Hush, we released two volumes of Mixtape
at Manta ray
. But due to some internal issues, we had to shut down the company a year later or so.
Pratheek and I started Kokaachi in 2014 and Prabha joined us as our Art Director last year. We are now continuing our journey in storytelling at Kokaachi.
What all does the studio offer in terms of topics? Tina: Kokaachi
is a visual storytelling house. We make comics, picture books, illustrated stories, animations and anything to do with pictures and words. Our most recent release was the first volume of Matchbox Comix
, which is a set of six short, whimsical sequential stories, each one of which comes inside a matchbox.
Our next book is a picture book for ‘your child and the child in you’. We're quite excited about this book and are waiting to release it next month! We showed the test-prints of this book to few friends and they all loved it! We also worked on animation sequences for two feature films - Gangster and OK Kanmani.
What makes it different and awesome? Tina:
Comics is a niche medium. There is a very small, but ardent readership for the medium in India. So as creators and publishers, our biggest challenge is to grow this readership, to reach new readers and show them that you can tell amazing stories in comics. This is both awesome and scary at the same time.
But, the fact that we have been primarily making comics for the past 6 years and have survived, I think that makes us different.
Tell us, why do your fans love it? Tina:
Our mission has always been to tell original, unique stories and that's differentiated us from other comic publishers in India. The kind of stories we tell, the artwork in our stories and the overall production quality of everything we put out that has definitely helped us build a small, but passionate community of readers who love our work, support and encourage us.
The fan mail often communicates a fans favourite story and why they like it. Things like, how they love our book design and production quality and more. Here are some of the sweetest things we’ve received in mail:
Dear Kokaachi peeps! Came across your creation - Matchbox Comix at the Calcutta Book Fair. Got interested – Grabbed, Read, Mesmerized, and became a Kokaachian for life. Thank you!
Please...please... Make more silent stories like Mixtape and ‘This is going to kill me’, you may summon me as a Groupie for your band anytime! Pro Bono.
Also, after a soft launch of Matchbox Comix at Comic Con, we met many people specifically asking for the ‘tiny box of awesomeness’ - which is the tagline of the Matchbox series, and to hear people actually say it was such a rewarding experience.
What according to you makes Kokaachi better than anything similar that’s out there? Tina:
a. Mixtape, a collection of short comics. It is envisioned as a platform for new and upcoming creators to share their love for short comic stories. The first volume contains four stories and second, five. We're set to release the third volume this summer, and will be putting out open calls for the fourth volume soon. Mixtape is a black and brown book because the stories are printed on school brown paper (the one we used to cover our school books), we like to think of these as our love letters to print.
b. Matchbox Comix. The quick bite sized comics that come inside matchboxes. We wanted to tell short stories that anyone from an eight year old to an eighty year old could enjoy, and that's one of the ways we came up with this range. The stories in MBX are humorous, weird and whimsical, and they're guaranteed to spark smiles. The first volume was released a few months back which is a set of six matchboxes, each of them carrying a different story. We're currently working on Volume 2 of the Matchbox Comix.
c. Working on the film ‘OK Kanmani’ was a dream come true! Having looked up to Mani Sir's films our entire lives, we'd never imagined that a day would come when we would be discussing story ideas with him. But that's exactly what we did! We co-created the game world in OK Kanmani with Mani Sir and teamed-up with three studios to create four animation sequences in this Tamil feature film.
What are your future plans? Tina:
We have three new titles ready to be released in the coming months - two of them are single shot comic stories and the other is a silent picture book. We're really excited about these stories and it's our first foray into colour comics. We are working on the second volume of Matchbox Comix and the third volume of Mixtape. The Mixtape issue is a collection of love stories and it has much longer stories compared to the last two volumes.
And we're all set to commence work on the animation sequences for OK Jaanu, the Bollywood adaptation of OK Kanmani.