Comic book artist and writer Anupam Sinha is the creator of the popular Raj Comics superhero Super Commando Dhruva. He gave the Indian comic industry a brand new direction with his work at Raj Comics. He has till date, sketched over 600 comics. While at Chitra Bharti comics, he created characters like Space Star and Private Detective Kapil. He is also a prolific writer and his debut novel The Virtuals continues to create ripples among the readers. He is the founder of the web-based ‘Anupam Academy of Art’ for training people in comic arts. For his exemplary and fantastical creations, he has been rightly tagged the ‘Master of Indian Fantasy’.
Ananya Dhawan: From where do you draw the inspiration to sketch cartoons?
Anupam Sinha: My inspiration is my mind. Since a very young age, I have had images floating in my mind which I always wanted to share with others. Being a comic buff, I tried to do this through pictures. But the images I had were not just of one particular scenario, but an event, part of a bigger story. This was another reason to opt for sequential art format and bring freaks out of my mind if not in flesh and blood, then in lines and shadows. I don’t prefer veering away much from reality, therefore most of my creations roam on the fringes of the present world. So, I can say, my surroundings provide me the raw material and zest to convert them into a not-so-different fantasy format. This can be seen in all my comics and in my maiden novel The Virtuals too.
AD: Which was the first cartoon character you ever created?
AS: I started my amateurish career as a cartoonist and my first published cartoon was a three-panelled joke which I tried to position as a series but that did not happen. Post that, for almost seven years I worked just as an artist. It was when I realised that the scripts I was getting were not exactly comic material, that I started writing my own scripts. The first series I scripted and drew was the Space Star series, similar to Star Trek. It was not based on one character but on a group so I cannot really call it a ‘character’. Soon enough, I realised that I should work on another series and then I created Private Detective Kapil, a runaway success (though not commercially) in the time of Jasoos Karamchand. This was my first official creation.
AD: What lies behind the notion of a ‘comics’? Are they just for fun or is there something more to it?
AS: A comic in general is a story illustrated in a sequential art format (where drawn panels relate to each other showing a sequence). This is slightly different from an illustrated story where drawings are linked to respective text and panels are not required to show a sequence, though even this format is also used in comics heavily, especially when narrating History, Mythology or Biography. This way, comics are a tool like movies are an Audio Visual tool. They are very much comparable to movies. It has as many different genres as movies, maybe more!
AD: What impact do you think a comic book or a cartoon has on the minds of readers/viewers?
AS: An ultimate impact, I’d say: for two reasons. First, a reader reads cartoons/comics in his or her teen/pre-teen years. This is the time which has a maximum impact on anyone’s life. Secondly, and more importantly, pictures have a more lasting impact on the mind and memory than a series of fleeting images, called a video. To compound the impact, comics are in a fantasy format, which is liked by most. But that’s just the beginning. When I decided on Dhruv, my vision was to give my readers a character which could guide them in positive character building. That is the reason I presented the character with buttoned collars and pleated, well kept hair. It was a decent look with nothing scruffy. He was kept gentle in manners but unmoved in his resolves. The thought worked, and I succeeded in impacting the minds of the readers in a positive way. Even to this day, I keep getting endorsements. Comics, if handled well, can undoubtedly change the world.
AD: Is cartooning a lucrative career ?
AS: I earn just enough to keep me hanging from the platform of respectability. My passion and satisfaction keep me going. But for the budding ones who are reading this; don’t be scared, when I say enough, it IS enough!
AD: How did you come up with the idea of creating ‘Super Commando Dhruv’ for Raj Comics?
AS: There were times when the term Superhero was synonymous to a person having paranormal powers, hiding behind an alter ego and in the age-range of 25. My thinking disagreed with these set norms. I had and still have a belief that a logical thinking brain is the greatest power in the world. For the second point of alter ego, I kept on reading excuses that it was to strike fear in the hearts of criminals and to protect those around her. The funny thing I found was, they had no one to protect! They were essentially orphans with no wife and kids. The only thing they could protect was they themselves. And a scared person himself cannot logically save others who are afraid. I was young then, few could disagree with me, but this is how I proceeded. My third point was the age factor. I decided that kids could relate better with a hero in their own age group. And thus a hero got created having no freak superpowers, very young and with no alter ego. I took care to keep him lively with a very proper Indian family built on fun and respect! And thus, I presented Super Commando Dhruv to the masses.
AD: Who is your favourite character from amongst the ones you have created?
AS: Of course, Dhruv. The Cyber Kid, which was published as weekly page in a newspaper is the second on my list.
AD: What are your passions besides drawing?
AS: Writing is my passion, and I wish to write everything that hits my imagination. I just finished a novel, I want to do poetry, plays, essays, columns – the wish list of my passions is endless!
AD: What are you currently working on?
AS: I am currently working on a re-launch of Dhruva (no changes), my second novel ‘The Omni’ and a novel series for the ‘The Second Coming Of Pandavas.’
AD: Any words of inspiration for budding artists?
AS: Yes and very serious words. Give what you have! Do not ape the established ones and compete with them. Prepare to face a lot of depressing criticism and hear them closely. These are the ‘selfless’ ones telling you your shortcomings without any payments. The road is long and tough, but the destination is ‘glory’!
1. Music or Drawing: Listening to music while drawing!
2. Reading or travelling: Love both: but for reading, no time and for travelling, no funds!
3. Favourite Gadget: Tab
4. Favourite cuisine: Gobhi ke stuffed ‘paranthe’ (Stuffed cauliflower paranthas)
5. One person you could give up your life for: Please, I’m a married man!…Ha, ha!