Sunday, December 21, 2014

A new year's update - A BIG change

Being a cartoonist in our country is not easy. But its not that difficult too. All you have to do is try.

Its a tight rope walk, which middle class origins make easy. Half your competition is stuck in small town drudgery of day to day life. So even with average talent you can go far. But, like every creative career it takes time.

In 2011, my boss at Comic Con India/Random Magazine/Pop culture publishing told me that he "can destroy my life".

I left that very day.

From then on till August 2014 I worked independently running a one man cartooning and comics shop.

In this time i did many things. Few of them are

Created comics for newslaundry - Something i regret doing because it has changed my world view forever and taken away the ignorant bliss that is quite useful. Stories of poverty death and suffering with a funny twist. whatever you read is 10% of what i read. That's why I am 90% sadder.

You can read the comics here

Commercial work - I created covers for Brunch, did assigments for BBC, some for Webchutney, a strip for Guardian london, line app stickers, some work for wingify an A/B testing firm and some more.

The money i made from this work was quite good, contrary to assumed belief. With this money I did some things that I am proud of -

1. Aaapki Poojita

Exploring an epic concept for animated show within the bounds of a webcomic. It failed but me and Adhiraj exhausted ourselves on it. leaving our man hours apart, we spent some 60k on it. So if you have an idea in your head, don't publish, explore online and you'll truly know - in a low cost form - that if it works.
Level 10 comics helped us develop and do this better.
Read Aaapki Poojita here.

2. Applying to and getting accepted at one of the best art schools in the world

I applied at School of Visual Arts, New York - one of best art schools in the world. I was on the waitlist of 25 they choose from over the world. I didn't make it to the final list. Maybe i am not good enough, maybe they knew i didn't have the 60,000 USD+14,000 USD+ living expenses required.
A good thing I earned out of it was a sweet looking portfolio.
more about this
check the portfolio here.

3. Asked a beautiful girl her permission - to marry

I blew a fortune on the ring, broke my back over an animated film, and then asked the most beautiful woman in the world for her hand in marriage. She agreed.
you can watch the film here.


Adhiraj started this small group, which I titled Adhiraj Comic Kala Samagam to tease him, which blew up into this big group of comic artists. We have published a comic book together and on our way to start a cooperative.
you can join the gang here.

5. Bought a flat in Noida

No I am not joking. My father made sure i don't fly too high and got me to pay for this flat, which will go on till the rest of my life.

6. Lived in a village 

Regular jobs don't give you this chance. So I took it when i could and lived in a village for some time. worked with the farmers and understood some things which nobody can tell you.
read more about it here.

7. Pitched a Khushwant Singh comic

An adaptation of his work which did not impress penguin.
you can read it here.

8. Learnt Thangka art 

I spent a good time learning Thangka art in Dharamsala for an epic fictional comic on Bhutan that I wanted to draw. I went to Bhutan too. that project is 4 chapters done.
Check the trip here
the teaser pages of comic here

9. Videsh - Turkey
Went there to attend a big workshop where comics was a part of it. My first 'abroad' trip. Nice experience. Nicer because it was not your ususal America, Britain. A different world. also because - part paid for, part with my own money.
Pictures here

10. The Itch You Can't Scratch sold off

Majority of the first print run of my first book sold out its first print run of 3000 copies. And on this podcast they told me that it means bestseller in today's publishing market. Also included big fights with the publisher (my ex employer) who tried every dirty trick to kill the book off. It survived on its own merit. The publisher continues to bury the book.

11. My work was stolen
the same publisher/ex employer stole mine and Adhiraj's work and turned it around, and published it. Feels pretty cool to get your work stolen. It is now out as 1% of what it was - ironically called  - payback

12. Grassroot comic 
Just knowing that this exists.

Since Feb 2014 the ground had started shrinking beneath my feet - Newslaundry's ability to pay was reducing, and freelance assignments were drying up.

I could either continue by watering down whatever i wanted to do. Or get a job.

I chose the job.

But in an interesting way - Cartooning is the art of ideating, writing and drawing - so rather than look for a drawing/art/design position (design is not my thing. cant decide why sarif is sans and blah blah) I transitioned to a copy and idea based position - keeping the drawing for myself.

I consolidated all my work and started a webcomic called...


This is a sucide note. I am not killing myself, but this webcomic is to be a repository of all the long form ideas that i wanted to do, but in a shorter form. This is to be a bottle in the sea.

you can read Bakarmax here.

 I have joined MSLGROUP Socialhive - a digital team, in a communications agency as the manager of - wait for it - Planning!

Although advertising, that too digital, is like running a pakora stall at peak hours, I feel relaxed for I don't have to worry about sales, marketing, getting work, meeting people, networking, and worrying about all this even when I am sleeping.
Running your own thing is a different kind of stress.

There's stress here too, but of a different kind.

What I am working on now -

Letting my heart out on Bakarmax

Regular work

Creating a Cooperative with the DCKS group

Starting a scholarship at my alma mater (engineering) for the lost souls

Marrying the pretty woman i've managed to woo

Working on a printed version of my NL comics - first comes out in March.


Raghav said...

Reading your Blog makes my Day. I wonder is it you, your thoughts, or the life you put in your characters.
Whatever it is, It brings a smile to my face. God - Speed!

312B said...


Anonymous said...

Sumit Bhai, the first time I saw you was in the first Comic Con India (Delhi) where you were shaking down the Level 10 stall in that black suit and "Dont mess with me!" attitude. But that image changed after I got to know you personally (around an year or two later). I realised that you were not only a good artist, but a fine human being, and after reading the Red Corridor the respect for you increased tenfolds.

Since then I have revered you as a celebrity and cherish the fact that you know me by my name. I wish nothing by more success to you and your endeavours, and know how much you and Adhiraj had put into Aapki Poojita. And still when I talk about you to some people who make a blank face on hearing your name, I ask them, "How can you not know who Sumit Kumar is?" I think it was a good thing that you didnt get selected into the NY School of Visual Arts, or else we dont know what could have become of you. Good or Bad, I dont know, but I am certain that it would not have been the Sumit Kumar you are right now. And this what you are today, is just what you needed to be. Pardon me if I have said something that I am not supposed to. Wish you all the luck in the world!

312B said...

Thanks so much. :-)

Post a Comment