WE­B­COMIC WAL­LAHS

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

Hindustan Times - Brunch - - HUMOUR SPECIAL - by Ad­hi­raj ‘Ad­hicool’ Singh and Su­mit ‘AW­Sum’ Ku­mar

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

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