The proper Indian webcomic is still the stuff of legend. It’s out there somewhere, waiting to be made and shared. We learnt this the hard way
1 India (EEN-DEEYAAH) is a land of many colours, spices, and arts. The art of procrastination ( Vilambanshastra) is one of the few truly indigenous art forms and it is directly related to the development of the Indian webcomic.
Many of the earliest Indian webcomics were just normal comics that had been posted online. 2 Going back as far as we could, we found Fly, You Fools! – the first Indian webcomic that was truly a webcomic. Laid out especially for online viewing for an Indian audience, and made with effort and care for readers (ie, not just posted on a personal blog for friends). The webcomic was a photocomic about life and its irritations that featured images and text by creator Saad Akhtar, and showed the darker, more cynical side of people. 3 Sadly, Fly, You Fools! went on an indefinite hiatus a few years ago. For many, its sarcasm and tone wasn’t very clear, but it was certainly the best we have seen so far. Other Indian webcomics from the time too were abandoned.
But what about the biggest webcomic? The most popular, the most profitable? First we look at
Garbage Bin. Created by artist Mohd Faisal,
Garbage Bin is posted exclusively on Facebook and features the tales of a North Indian everychild Guddu, and his average, middle-class life. Dripping with ’90s references, it is a sweet, safe strip that ideally belongs in a newspaper. But, it is posted on Facebook, so on a technicality it qualifies to be here.
4 The other is Sahil Rizwan’s The
Vigil Idiot. Hip kids who won’t get Garbage Bin’s middle-class chutkule latch on to The Vigil
Idiot’s lawls as it rips on latest Bollywood films by stating their inherent stupidity. The Vigil
Idiot qualifies as a webcomic because the format is for web only, though it is only a film review. 5 What have we learned from all this? We learnt how to make the Ultimate Indian Webcomic, using the cynical view from Fly, You Fools!, the ’90s humour from
Garbage Bin, and the Bollywood bashing from The Vigil Idiot, we created Aaapki Poojita. It’s a webcomic to end all webcomics.
We made more than 100 strips in one year, we shared it on Facebook and Twitter, we had an ingenious mobile-friendly layout, and we went straight for the big LOLZ, not the cheap laughs. The result? We failed. Miserably.
The one thing we did learn is that the webcomic market is unpredictable. You don’t know what will work. The proper Indian webcomic is still the stuff of legend, out there somewhere, waiting to be made and shared. What works on the Internet refreshes faster than social media sites change layouts. But the oldest rule in the comic book still holds true: it’s all about how you tell the story.
Adhiraj Singh and Sumit Kumar started Aaapki Poojita in 2012 – it went from being unknown to slightly less unknown and into full coma in late 2013. After a messy divorce, they are still Facebook friends (restricted list.) You can find Sumit’s work at www.sumitdrew.com. You can find Adhiraj at the bottom of a bottle