Toonistas of a forgotten era

Nostalgia is a pill of comic relief here
Ever seen kids walking carelessly by landmarks in Bengaluru under its dwindling tree covers or structures like Opera House that stand mute spectators, a distant memory in time? Invokes a certain sense of nostalgia, doesn’t it? Kaveri Gopalakrishnan and Aarthi Parthasarathy’s UrbanLore reflects on just that. These Bengaluru lasses have created an addictive webcomic series that captures people, their stories and the changing landscapes of Indian cities in a graphic format!
“The image of a city is shaped by how we choose to remember it. UrbanLore is about this interaction between a person and the city,” says 26-year-old Kaveri, an illustrator and comic artist who is collaborating with Aarthi. “These are stories we’ve come across and heard over the years. We follow up on an idea we find particularly interesting with research — It’s almost a kind of journalistic inquiry that eventually takes shape as a constructed narrative,” explains Aarthi, a filmmaker and writer who pens down the prose for the series. Their first episode brought to life the distinction between how it was when smoking was allowed and after it was banned at Koshy’s. It was only natural for them to pick this as a subject as both had fond memories of the place. “It was where I first met the artists, activists, writers, musicians of Bengaluru, had long, deep conversations about life and its meaning,” says 30-year-old Aarthi, an alumnus of Srishti School of Art. For Kaveri, their fish curry rice and the steaming pot of tea is and will always be a constant allure. Now, they have just released an irreverent comic about an all-too familiar experience in the urban jungle — Waiting for Auto that is garnering recognition.
While there may be many such anecdotes recorded in contemporary Indian writing, film and music even, there aren’t as many in comic and graphic stories. “We’ve seen Bengaluru change dramatically in the past decade — Beautiful structures, houses, getting demolished and replaced by anonymous apartments and malls. The tree cover has been gradually dwindling. And at the same time, there’s a different attitude entering the city and the people — globalisation has made all of us more aware and outward-looking. And we wanted to talk this, in comic and graphic form,” says Kaveri, an ex student of National Institute of Design whose graphic story Blank Space, was published in Drawing the Line anthology.
The avid comic book and collectors are now planning an expansion. “The vision is that each city will be a chapter, with different episodes focusing on a unique aspect of that city,” says Aarthi, who also makes a webcomic called Royal Existentials, a series that interestingly uses Indian vintage art and imagery to tell stories of historical (and contemporary) angst. As they continue to explore story-telling styles and visual treatments, they have but one goal in mind – to make UrbanLore well-loved, familiar and interactive.
( Source : deccan chronicle )
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