"Graphic novels now cover all sorts of genres, from sci-fi to horror to war"
Source: Toxic Alert, Date: March , 2010
After having worked for 2 years in Mumbai, for a company that made animated commercials,Priya Kuriyan,illustrator of Our Toxic World, moved to Delhi to work on animated educational films for the Sesame Street project. She began illustrating while she was in design school , doing a course in animation film making. Her first real illustration project was for Tulika books – a children’s publisher based in Chennai.Subsequently she went on to illustrate for other publishers like Scholastic, Penguin and Hachette. She speaks to Suparna Dutta on the growing popularity of graphic books amongst Indian readers of all ages.
Is illustrating a
more difficult process than writing?
Though I don’t have as much experience with the latter, I
would say they both are equally challenging processes and I don’t think one can
compare the two . What a writer tries to do with words, an illustrator does
with pictures. Though , the one advantage I feel thata writer has is that he/she does not require as many resources to
work with . All they require is a paper a pen or a laptop and they are set .
Thus the idea of working from anywhere in the world is more of a possibility.
Tell us something
about Our Toxic World.
I got involved with Our Toxic world around early 2008. When
Aniruddha and Salil told me about the their idea of using the format of a
graphic novel , to educate and inform people about how development has affected
the world and our environment , I thought that the idea was very unique and
extremely sincere. Aniruddha had already started working on the script which
was based on the research that Toxic Links had been doing over the years .
Over all it took me around 8 months to complete working on
the artworks. Annie would send in the script as it was being written, chapter
-wise and then I would then work on the rough visuals at my end. He would then
go through these rough sketches and send in very detailed feedback. The major
part of editing the artworks was done at this point, after which the inking and
final artwork was complete. It was a huge learning process for me in many ways
. I had never worked on a graphic novel or a comic book before. Also, I learnt
so much about environmental hazards while working on the
book. I myselfhave started putting
into practice certain things mentioned in the book .
What is the future of
graphic books in India? Do you see an increased interest level amongst the
There is definitely an increased interest in graphic books .
While Iwas growing up , the only
graphic books that were easily accessiblewere comics - the Amar chitra kathasor some American comics. But over the past few years the publishing
industry in India has grown and accessibility to Indian graphic novels( that were
initially only printed outside India )has madepeople more familiar with the format . It has suddenly become
very ‘cool’ to have read or be reading these novels . There has also been an
increase in writers who would like to write these novels.
How is the trend
Internationally also , the trend of reading graphic novels
is on the rise . Manga comics have been gaining immense popularity all over the
world . A lot of these books are being translated into many languages which
says a lot about their popularity.These books are easier and faster to
readand the visuals allow ideas and
cultural contexts to be understood more easilythan when there is only text. Novels like Maus have achieved cult status
. Marjane Satrapi ‘s Persepolis , that tells the story of an Iranian girl
living in France became hugely popular and was even made into an Oscar
nominated film in 2008 . The cinematic quality of these books adds to their
There is a popular
perception that graphic books are children’s books because of abundance of
pictorial depiction and not for serious reading. Comment.
I guess this perception was built because people were more
familiar with comic books like Batman , Superman et al. which were read mainly
by kids . But I think with increased awareness andexposure by the media , that perception is slowly changing . Over
the past few yearsI think peoplehave become much more aware of the format .
Graphic novels now cover all sorts ofgenres, from sci-fi to horror to war. Art Spiegelman's Maus , that
chronicles his parents lives in the Nazi concentration camps,was groundbreaking
for the very fact that made people recognize this as a format that could say
something insightful and serious .
How is Our Toxic
World different from any other graphic book?
It is very different in terms of its content . The format is
offbeat for a book of this nature which is the very reason we hopereaders find the book to be unique and most
importantly, it evokes interest in the pertinent messages that the book tries
to convey .