When K.M. Hassan, a cartoonist and an art teacher from Muvattupuzha, stepped out of his school after 17 years of service, he wanted it to be memorable. He wanted to leave his signature there for the students to come. As a person who has been associated with the world of cartoon and caricature for a long time, he had nothing but this on his mind. He adorned a wall in the corridor of his school — Govt Higher Secondary School, Pezhakkappilly — by drawing 100 cartoons that are close to Malayalis.
“This year, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Malayalam cartoon. Hence, I zeroed in on the idea of 100 cartoons,” says Hassan, adding that the urge to do this project stemmed from his desire to try innovative ideas. “We, friends, always do activities to bring cartoons to the limelight. I have been writing about cartoons for some time. When I had this thought, I discussed it with my friend Ibrahim Badusha, who along with others supported in making it a success,” recalls Hassan, who retired from service this year on June 30.
The project Cartoon@100 Samarpanam was unveiled on June 27. Hassan painted the wall yellow and then drew the characters. From Kunjamman, the first pocket cartoon of Malayalam, to the evergreen Kuttoosan, Dakini, Boban and Molly, the wall has characters that played a crucial role in making Malayalis laugh and think. “I focused on characters that appeared in journals and newspapers. Television was avoided as it belongs to the genre of animation,” he explains.
According to him, the wall is a window that lets anyone, be it a child or an adult, to take a look at the world of cartoons. “The purpose is to remind visitors about our past.” Those who want to know more about it can find information from related books or ask experts. “Someone will have to explain,” he says. “The response is good. People find it attractive,” adds Hassan.
It is not the first time he has used his talent for the welfare of society. He had accumulated funds for the medical expense of a student in his school via drawing. During the time of the 2018 floods, this award-winning artist helped the flood-affected find finance by doing portraits.
However, Hassan is saddened about the fact that art and music are not given prominence in our government schools. “I don’t know the reason, but art and music teachers are not hired anymore. That is sad. All children have inborn talents. We have to nurture them. If we don’t help them develop their talent, it would never see the daylight. Anyone can study hard and get marks, but talent is exclusive,” concludes Hassan.