Thursday, March 15, 2018

Overnight success: Irritating trope

This is the story of a basti of qawwals in Jalandhar and a new smartphone game.

The new game is called Florence and it's literally a comic. It's by the designer who created the beautiful MONUMENT VALLEY. This one has beautiful illustrations, is a romance, is minimal and is extremely beautiful. Check the trailer.

The illustrations are the kind that's more or less of our time. How do I explain that, I mean, look at all the comic book art in Marvel and DC in the 80's it looks similar despite the artist right?

Its like that. If you look at how almost all design school graduates draw - its like that. rough sketchy brushes and sometimes just color somewhere and not full colors but coloring in varying tones of the same colour - purple, light purple, dark purple and a mustard yellow thrown in for highlights. Very few stand apart from this formula, very few have a style that's unique.

What triggered this blog was the ending of the story in this digital game comic app romantic story something. SPOILER ALERT. The girl who wants to be an artist but stuck in a boring job takes a leap of faith and is suddenly an overnight success. This is the fairy tale of today. People eat it up. Its in films, in books, in graphic novels (see POLINA where a ballerina suddenly becomes part of a successful troupe). Today, everyone wants to be an immediate internet sensation - including me.

But where does it stop? As I understood from a trek recently -

1. I saw a mountain from far. it was the biggest around.
2. I climbed it.
3. There were 10 bigger mountains around.

It never stops. And that's the irritating part.

As a full time cartoonist I get both sides of the mountain a lot. I am the author of two decently selling graphic novels and many webcomics. I do this full time. Its a struggle. But its alright. Some tell me great so good you are living the dream. Some feel sad for me - why haven't I become a "success". They mean the overnight kind where I have 1 million followers.

I have been making comics for a long time now. Full time. Did jobs in the middle. Never left comics though. I write and draw my own comics. My cartooning space is a small business. I have clients that give me work, which helps me run my webcomic Bakarmax.

Now, I will take a brief moment and tell you about the basti of qawwals in Jalandhar. I never knew about it, until I heard in an interview of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan that before migrating to Pakistan his family used to live there. Its called Basti Shekh Darwesh. He is from a family of qawwali parties that made money however they could, practicing endlessly everyday. Set in stone. A routine. Hear the interview if you get the time.

There are many stories like that, especially in music. Daler Mehndi is part of this big family. There are people in sciences who continue to work in their silences. Working everyday. Its like this endless riyaaz. There is no worry about reaching a peak. Its about perfecting your craft, studying it, fixing it, dusting the old things, adding new ones.

And that's the side of making art or literally doing anything - what we call today - FOLLOWING YOUR PASSION - that is not told. Its really not about overnight success. Its about Riyaaz. and doing Riyaaz despite everything. That's something that is easy to understand but very difficult to put into practice. Its like tweaking an engine everyday. Its reached that point that I have stopped worrying about anyone funding my comics. I don't wait for anyone.

I am really getting into this Riyaaz mode. Not sure if that's good or bad. But that's the frame of my mind right now.