A Personal Post – You’ll know if it is for you :)

Important Note:

This is your Opportunity to Bail Out!

This is a personal post meant for the regular readers of my blog. If you are here the first time, you’d be more interested in exploring the following links.

So…if you aren’t really interested in the monologue of this crazy caricaturist, use any of the above links to bail out. The decision is yours.

What?

You want to read on? So…go ahead, who is stopping you?!

Let us begin by answering the micro-dollar question.

Why the heck don’t I keep my Personal Posts Private?

The bloggers among you might wonder why I need to make an open-for-all personal post. Why don’t I mark my post private (I’ve never done it – so I don’t know how it’s done), and send passwords to everyone who I’d like to invite over to read it? An excellent question that evokes a mundane answer from this jaded caricaturist. I don’t do it because I really don’t know who among you feel close to me. I don’t actively attempt to draw commentators to my blog by commenting on other blogs (I hear that some use commenting as I scratch your whatever and you scratch mine!) When I leave a comment on another blog, it’s usually on an impulse – it’s because you post really touched my heart. (Now you know.)

I don’t believe in measuring cognitive relationships in microns, and so there are those blogs that I visit quite often but don’t leave a comment (bad manners, I know) and I know that there are people who visit my blog regularly but don’t leave a comment. It’s fair…and it’s fun. A relationship (even a dotted line relationship, such as the one that a blogger shares with the visitors) is a happy one only as long as it doesn’t develop expectations and generate a high-pressure situation for the any or both the parties.

Reverting to the original point of this post. I don’t mark any of my posts private, because I really don’t want to exclude anyone who has a relationship with this blog, and who for his or her own reasons, doesn’t want to make that relationship public by commenting/writing to me.

Momentous Changes in the Caricaturist’s Life:

With that little kink worked out, here’s what I wanted to tell you:

I am right in the middle of a sweeping change in my life. If you’ve known artists, you’d know that their sweeping changes seldom have anything to do with kids, sweethearts/spouses, even their stupid day jobs – so you can rule all that out. This change is more about the way I want to live – and in all honesty…I don’t want to live with senseless clutter. I qualify the clutter that I want to get rid of because I want to replace the senseless clutter with sensible clutter.

What Goes Out – The Senseless Clutter!

Here’s Senseless Clutter:

  • Fears that stop me from doing harmless stuff that can actually help me. (Note that I DON’T include “learning to drive” in my list of “harmless stuff that can be helpful” – for a disaster magnet like me, that stuff could be pretty harmful!)
  • emails that offer me work for peanuts – telling me that other Indians are working for peanuts so why can’t I (Quality of work notwithstanding.)
  • Movies that are a drain on my time and money (I am definitely not talking about the newest release in the X-Men series – X Men First Class, which I intend to watch this week.)
  • People who make me miserable instead of making me happy.
  • My blog needs to go through a transformational process too – especially if it is to reflect the changes that I wish to bring in my life.

What Stays Back and Comes In – The Sensible Clutter!

And Here’s the Sensible Clutter that I am keen on adding around me (Note that the right-brained thrive on clutter.)

  • A new set of pencils.
  • A few sketchbooks for rough work.
  • A few new fictional characters to share my mental space with.
  • Some books about places that I haven’t visited and I never will.
  • A degree in art (oh well, I can dream…can’t I?)
  • A new income-generating mechanism (I need to do something to keep my body and soul together – and that, dear readers, cannot be art – because whatever else, I am not prepared to sleep on the pavement. At least not yet.)

These changes will obviously reflect upon the nature and the content of this blog. You must’ve already noticed a few changes. For instance:

  • A new section called the Time-Machine has been added. This section would contain the summary of whatever I learn about the popular comic strips, when I research them for my learning.
  • Another new section called the Interactive Art Tutorials has been added. This section would include tutorials on cartooning. Don’t worry. This still remains primarily a caricature blog, but we’d see more cartoons here, as I suddenly have this wild urge to simplify my lines and create some cartoons.

While we are talking about the Interactive Art Tutorials, I would like to clarify that these tutorials are in Flash, they are interactive, can be downloaded to your computer, and they won’t put you to sleep. I’ve started by presenting two simple Owl-Drawing tutorials but you can expect a lot of other interesting stuff to appear in that section. If you’d want me to create a tutorial on something specific in cartooning, leave a comment here.

Be Warned. More new stuff is expected in the days to come. So if you stay away you miss out on the fun!

See you soon with a crisp commentary on the Comic Strip that once gave jitters to the US Army.  Which Comic Strip am I talking about? Any guesses?

The Caricaturist recounts her experiences.

Some of you would remember that on the 29th of April, I had to rush to Westminster Abbey, in my pajamas, because the courier carrying my invitation to the royal wedding was delayed as he was waylaid by the Taliban.

I would have told you all about the wedding, how the paparazzi went nuts the moment they realized that The Caricaturist was at the wedding, and how I had to tell them that it was William and Kate’s day, and that they should train their lenses on them; I would’ve told you all, had Bin Laden not been killed on the morning of May 1, 2011.

On my journey home, my plane was right over Abbottabad when Operation Geronimo was taking place. My plane “The Caricaturist One” was fitted with radar jammers and so I could fly over Pakistan, undetected. (To silence those who must be wondering if it was a royal waste of money to name a plane after me, I should make it clear that the plane is now going to be called, “The Sheen One” in honor of Charlie Sheen. It’s a reusable, rename-able plane, you see!)

Anyway, when I landed, I came to know about President Obama’s announcement, and I was driven to draw Geronimo who was EKIA, and release the only official “Osama bin Laden Dead Picture” on my blog. What I hadn’t expected was the deluge of visitors from every little nook, cranny, street, road, colony, town, city, and country of the world. I never realized that this guy was a bigger crowd-puller than even William and Kate!

All this kept me on my toes, and I really couldn’t tell you anything about any of the following.
1.    The April Story-in-the-Caricature Blog Carnival – nothing happened – so there’s nothing to report. I think that the Blog Carnival really needs to go.
2.    The upcoming caricature of Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.(Caricature published on: May 08, 2011)
3.    The Facebook group “Emotional Art” that needs your attention.

Anyway, now that the dust (oops, the water) has settled over Osama Bin Laden’s earthly remains, and now that it has become clear from his will that he wanted only other people’s children to join Al Qaeda and not his own…I think it’s time for the world to move on.

See you soon, with another caricature.

My Childhood Love – A Naked Truth – A Caricature of Life!

Important Note:

This isn’t the usual fare that’s served at this blog. If you’ve arrived here through a search and if you are looking for caricatures click the Gallery link and if you are here for the Story-in-the-Caricature Blog Carnival, click here.

However, if you are looking for nothing in particular and if for some unfathomable reason you care about the beautiful unique relationship I share with Pratap Mullick, read on.

There’s a good chance that you know neither about Pratap Mullick nor about me, but if you are an artist who grew up in the far-flung regions of India, where if you wanted to buy a magazine, you’d have to travel about 40 miles – you probably have seen Pratap Mullick’s art.

WARNING:

I am NOT talking about Nagraj Comics. He did illustrate the first 50 of those…but I haven’t seen those illustrations. (Pratap Mullick illustrated for Nagraj Comics before 1995 – and Nagraj comics aren’t really what we’d call the “classics” so I can’t find the old issues anywhere. Honestly I don’t care about what I see of Nagraj Comics now! Searches of “Pratap Mullick” often throw up image results that show the work of other artists – and that work isn’t at the same scale of quality as Pratap Mullick’s…so I take no responsibility for misconceptions born out of indiscriminate searches.)

When I was a child, I was not just a child, I was a girl child; and despite being born in quite an emancipated family, nobody thought to ask me what I’d like to become when I grew up. Until I was ten, school was a mercurial affair – it was there, then it wasn’t, then again…it was there, and then it wasn’t. We often lived in places where ours was the only family for miles around. So I had a lot of time to read what I wanted to instead of reading what I had to.

Once a month, my father would take us to the nearest town, and I’d spend my monthly pocket-money (5 Rupees) on comics. I’d buy some combination of Indrajal comics (1 Rupee) and Amar Chitra Kathas (1.50 Rupees, if I remember right.) Indrajaal comics distributed the Phantom comics and the Mandrake comics in India – they later created their own hero, Bahadur too. In contrast, Amar Chitra Kathas (translates to: Immortal Stories with Pictures,) had stories from Indian Mythology and History. After a few months of buying both, I decided that I preferred Amar Chitra Kathas, so I requested my parents for an increment of one rupee in my pocket-money and began buying four Amar Chitra Kathas instead.

It was then that I realized that some of the Amar Chitra Kathas had drawings that were considerably better than those in others. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I was a selectively curious child. For a long time, it didn’t occur to me that real artists made those drawings, and I never thought that I could one day illustrate for books and magazines. I drew because it was nice to draw.

Coming back to the point, I realized that certain drawings looked better – in fact, they looked beautiful. They inspired me to draw better. Without realizing that I was learning from those drawings, I began to learn. I learned about proportions, shades, backgrounds, perspectives…I looked at those drawings and then looked around – and then I’d try to draw what I saw, the way they were drawn in those drawings.

I still didn’t know that there was an artist behind those drawings, so next when I went to the town and shopped for Amar Chitra Kathas, I’d look inside, check out the drawings, and instinctively select the Amar Chitra Kathas with those beautiful drawings. My parents would wonder why I selected some and rejected some – but they never asked and I never told. It was my secret.

When kids grow up, they are often asked what they’d like to be when they grew up – in my time, a girl child was seldom asked this question – and so I never could connect art with illustration. If I were asked the question, I might’ve said something like – I would like to draw…and then one thing could’ve led to another, and I might’ve ended up becoming a “real” artist. But for this reason or some other, there was a mental gap somewhere – some synapses didn’t connect – somehow I never realized that art could be a profession as well.

Then during the Nineties there was a time when it was difficult to find Amar Chitra Kathas on the bookstalls, and once in while I’d think about those beautifully illustrated comics, and feel sad. But they probably experienced some sort of revival and I began seeing Amar Chitra Kathas again. One day, when I was in a bookstore, I picked one of them up. I picked it up gingerly – ready to be disappointed – ready to accept that as a child what I found beautiful was indeed crass and mediocre. But the comic that I had instinctively picked up had the same beautiful drawings that I had fallen in love with as a child. I had picked up “Urvashi.

But I was a different Shafali now. I knew that a real artist did those illustrations, and so with my heart beating hard against my ribs, I checked out the cover for the credits – expecting to find none. (Our publishers often fear that they’d lose their illustrators and so they don’t provide credit to the artists.) But there it was. It said: “Illustrated by: Pratap Mullick”! For the first time, I knew the name of the man who had held my hand and steadied it as I learned to draw – for the first time in my life, my thoughts went beyond those drawings and I visualized what his life must’ve been – for now I also know a lot about the struggle that life is for an Indian artist.

It was a moment that was both happy and sad. The fact that Pratap Mullick could survive in this world and that he made drawings that’d survive him – made me happy. The fact that a man of his caliber, wasn’t celebrated – wasn’t known – and wasn’t given the status he deserved, made me sad. I should’ve heard his name as one of the great artists of India – he changed lives, he helped people learn art, and he still remains the best book illustrator that India has ever seen – and believe me when I say that because I spend hours looking at illustrations…and just one illustration is what it takes to tell you what an artist is worth!

As someone who’s keen on art, I wonder why an Amar Chitra Katha that he illustrated should sell at the same price at which all other Amar Chitra Kathas would sell? The comics he illustrated are collectibles – the comics that others did…well they just earned their living! If you don’t know what I am talking about buy “Vasantasena” and “Vasavadatta” – and compare them (Don’t go by the cover illustrations…they are always done well.) ! I just hope that he was at least paid better.

The question is – Why do we normalize? Why do we pull real talent down to the level of mediocrity?

We all know the answer…don’t we? This ability of the human race, is one of the things that define our humanity. We’ve decided to trash the evolutionary theory of “Survival of the Fittest” and that’s precisely why we are headed where we are…

Downhill.