Drawing Funny!

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FOR TEACHERS AND LIBRARIANS

Drawing Funny!

By : Savio A. Mascarenhas   /  Nov 2010

Ah comics! The funny pictures in panels that tell a story through speech bubbles! It’s a fascinating art form that has evolved over thousands of years…I guess the cavemen were the first to tell a story using drawings. Those stick drawings on the cave walls told a tale of their hunting exploits. Since then and now, comics have been used as a medium to entertain and educate.

In India, it is Amar Chitra Katha that has immortalized heroes and heroines from Indian mythology, from the seventies till today. Tales from the Panchatantra, Hitopadesh and the Jataka were popularized too. It was in the 80’s that Tinkle was started as a comic that entertained and educated children. Characters like Shikari Shambu, Suppandi and Tantri the Mantri became the first Indian comic book heroes.

I grew up reading these comics, never imagining that I would be a part of the magazine that has been instrumental in nurturing my own childhood. In the year 1998, when I took over the illustrating of Shikari Shambu from Vasant Halbe, who had created the character along with Luis Fernandes, it was a big challenge to maintain the likeness of the character. It took me some time to ‘understand’ Shikari Shambu.

As an illustrator one has to look at the character in terms of forms and shapes like circles, square, triangles, ovals etc. Once you break up the characters into forms, it becomes easier to consistently draw out the character throughout the story.

How to draw Shikari Shambu

Next comes the drawing of a comic book page. To begin with, the story when it comes from a child in a narrative form is put into a script form by the script writers. The script writer gives the speech bubbles i.e. the dialogues, to the characters, guidelines to the characters features, costumes etc and the description of the scene in the story. Once the script is finalized by the editor it reaches the illustrator’s board.

I start with sketching of the characters in the story. Here, attention has to be given to costumes and features of the characters.

Characters in the story

And then, the thumbnail sketches of the panels are drawn in a smaller version.

Thumbnail of the story

Based on these thumbnails, the final artwork is drawn on a larger scale so that we can fill in the details of the character and the backgrounds in the story.

Final story

Once the page is done, it is scanned, coloured and the text bubbles are placed on the computer. This entire process is constantly scrutinized by the art director and the editor till the final okay is given. So the next time you pick up a comic book, you will know how a little germ of an idea in someone’s mind takes the final form of an illustrated story with the combined effort of lots of people!

Savio A. Mascarenhas is an illustrator with Tinkle, the beloved children’s magazine. He has also illustrated picture books for other publishers.