Sunday, 30 October 2011

An Interview with Hemant Kumar

We all love comics and miss our childhood because those kiddish stories don't interest us anymore. We cry over this but some people like Hemant Kumar find a way to bring comics back in our life by writing on topics of our interest and presenting them to us through his website called Lithosphere. Stoned. This comic artist is mastering his 'jackness' in all the trades like Philately, Law, Art and Entrepreneurship.

Here goes my conversation with him :-

1. Your story is somewhat uncommon. A student of Law and a Comic Artist. How did the journey go? 

=> I always found comic artists cool. Having my own comic was a childhood dream; law and comics might sound leagues apart, but I guess everyone has different personalities within them.

2. You have been an avid quizzer, you have interest in reading, philately and a lot more. What do you enjoy doing the most?

=> Haha. It’s like choosing between one’s children. The greatest love I have is for knowledge, it doesn't restrict to any two or three things. I’d do anything that I can lay my hands on. Just because I get to grow as I do it.

3. Where do you see yourself after the completion of your graduation in law?

=> Placed well as a lawyer. That’s of primary importance. I’d continue with the site and other things that I keep doing, things that I can find myself passionate about.

4. Taking law as a graduation subject needs some aim behind it. What is your dream with your subject?

=> Law was planned way back in school. It provides me with satisfaction on many fronts. I get to play a role in society-building. There’s enough money. What fascinates me is the power to build lives, decisions, society solely by my words, my ideas and logic. It’s a superpower greater than what superheroes have.

5. What would you rather be - a comic artist or a lawyer? 

=> Both. Also a writer, a restaurateur, a musician, a painter and much more.

6. A wide variety of interests you have! Well coming to your passion, Comic-making. How did you start it? What inspired you?

=> I used to follow cartoons as a child. Illustrated books, and comics published in newspapers used to fascinate me. I guess that was the seed for this plant, Lithosphere. 

7. How do you come up with ideas for comic stories as well as drawings? How difficult is it for you? Are the stories fictional or they are also based on what you experience in your daily life?

=> It works both ways. Things I see, observe, combined with my imagination and thought process helps me make a comic. See, every comic has a meaning, I don’t make comics to make people laugh, but also to convey a strong yet subtle message. Fits well with the crude drawings and poor humour. So there’s a lot of thought that goes in.

When I decided to start with the comic, drawings was a difficult phase. My Friend Shruti Katyal helped me with it. Abhishek Monga, a dear friend helped me make the site. The art work is inspired from the popular ‘Warli’ art of Maharashtra.

8. Tell us one interesting instance that occurred while making comics?

=> It happens very often. I work on my stand and my mom takes a lot of interest in my work. But it gets very difficult when I have to draw an adult comic. Have to do all the work hiding away from her. Sometimes it's fun! :-D

9. You told me you write a bit. Tell me what kind of a writer you are. And being a writer; what do you like reading the most?

=> I write for fun. Experiences, observations, at times evaluations of the physical world and beyond. I read almost everything, I do avoid the romantic genre, because there are so many more things that can make you sick in the gut, why to use a book for that?

10. How did you come up with your website What made you name it ‘Lithosphere. Stoned’?

=> ‘Litho’ means stone. And ‘Sphere’ connotes the material world around us. So through the comic I try to portray the material world, as I see, in stone tablets. That’s the comic’s layout!

11. As I read about you, it was mentioned that you are fond of studying various religions. Tell us what interests you in this genre.

=> Not that I particularly love to study religion, but well, yes there’s something about it that attracts me. So I thought that it’d be intelligent if I actually went ahead and understood this one thing that attracts people from all places since forever.

12. You have been to ‘BQC’ once. Tell us about your experience.

=> It can be summed up in two words : ‘We lost.’ But it was life changing, met a few pretty girls, understood how important it is to capitalize on opportunities and met more pretty girls. :D

13. How many comic-stories have you written in totality? Have you ever published them or thought of publishing them in print media?

=> The site has about twenty five comics as yet. It’s a new venture, just the beginning. And I’d be glad to have my matter published. Its every artist’s dream I think to have access to the greatest audience. Print media, for comics, is probably the best source to get them. But I’d like to retain the website as well, its helps retain the independence.

14. You have mentioned on your website that your comics are about Law, Religion, Women, Love and Science. Tell us about one subject on which you like working the most.

=> I encounter all these issues every moment as I conduct my life and feel amazed how dumb-ingly difficult can all of these things be. I make comics based on experiences and thoughts and these things take up most of my brain-space. That left is used in trying to figure out why does the Facebook layout change so frequently?

15. Where do you see your website by two years?

=> *Fingers crossed* I see attracting a huge audience, with better content and sharper comics. Some hate-mail to make me feel I am doing good and a ‘LithosphereComics parade’ or something similar taking place in Delhi. Just that, I am not very ambitious. ;)

16. You are also involved in Freelancing. Tell us about what you have done lately.

Lately I worked with an adverisement firm, as a content writer. I used to draft the content and tag lines for ads which gets published in several medias: posters, pamphlets, internet, content for websites, tag lines for brands etc. Also used to help design the layout of the ads, the art work and stuff.

17. Before we end up, I know about your interest in philately. Tell my readers about how you
developed interest in philately? How should one get initiated into this interesting hobby?

=> Stamps provide a huge creative content in such a small space. That amazes me. Been collecting them since I was in primary school, got a few gifted by my uncle. Now I have a rather huge collection.

Rapid fire round:

Q: Favorite Place?

=> Has to be Delhi.

Q: Favorite Comic Characters?

=> There’s a constant fight between Batman, Uglythieve, the
devil from my comic and Calvin.

Q: Most inspiring person for you?

=> Circumstances, not people.

Q: Any new hobby that you wish to inculcate?

=> Music.

Q: One thing you would like to tell us about your site :

=> It's usually wittier than my answers in this interview.

Visit his Facebook page Lithosphere Comics to know more about him.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

An Interview with Abhay Shukla

Abhay Shukla - A pass out of IIT-Delhi, an acclaimed blogger, a story-teller and an entrepreneur has been involved in a multitude of projects ranging from engineering to writing. His venture iitstories brings brilliant stories of IITians and their start-ups.People complain about the lack of inspiration and motivation in life; whereas he creates it and inspires!

Here goes an amazing conversation I had with this extremely down to earth man :-

1. Before we begin, please tell me about you in a nutshell.
=> I am a writer by heart and an engineer by profession who is trying to figure out how to work out both. In the process i am developing instincts of creativity.

2. Yours is a different kind of story. An engineer, an acclaimed blogger and now a story-teller with a difference. How has the journey been like?
=> The journey has just started. Probably I will be in much better position to answer your questions after 4-5 years. But the journey sure seems to be exciting.

3. What do you enjoy the most amongst the three?
=> I enjoy writing stories the most. With them I am in my own world of creation. Often I imagine myself in place of the characters and feel for them before writing, and it is then that sometimes I get the most incredible feeling, the true experience of joy.

4. You went for a job after finishing your graduation. Why did you leave it? Were you able to write during that time?
=> I was working for an I-Bank but I was much more interested in engineering so I decided to quit. Also writing in those days was tough but it's the same even now.

5. Coming to your second passion, blogging. How did you start it? Who inspired you?
=> Blogging was something I came to know about in IIT. I used to write stories in diaries and I wanted to share them with friends and readers and blogs seemed to be just the convenient way. Soon I started writing on the blog The Pagefiction.

6. You write short-stories. This is something rare in the blogging domain. What made you write your first story?
=> Most of the short-stories I write are inspired from real incidents. I remember writing my first story Kiddie Times which is about how my brother and his friends planned to escape from home. I wanted to keep the story from disappearing in the sands of time and that’s just how it was all kicked off.

7. Were you an engineer turned writer or did you write since childhood?
=> I started writing poems when I was 13-14 years old. This continued for about 6 years until my interest in short stories arose and I decided to give it a try.

8. I’ve heard that during your IIT days you wrote this highly praised story, “How I met Haseen”. Tell me more about it. Was it a real story?
=> How I met Haseen is a short love story with a really tragic ending. At the end of the story you just know what a true love feels like. Everytime I read it I feel my heart pounding for the characters in it. I think if you read it, you will figure out yourself whether it is true or not.

9. I would definitely go through it! I have heard that your friends have asked you to make it into a novel? Are you giving it a thought?
=> Well I have got many requests and suggestions about writing sequels to my stories and if possible to turn them into novels. But to me writing is a very emotional matter because every piece of it has got a piece of me. I am working on a story but I am giving it enough time and space to build on itself rather than me trying to put deadlines.

10. Tell us one interesting instance that occurred while writing stories?
=> Meeting Nitin Donde and Ms. Manorama Jafa who helped me understand a child's mind remains the most interesting instance that has occurred since i started writing. They practically taught me how to write stories for children.

11. How many stories have you written in totality? Any thoughts about publishing?
=> I have about 40 stories in my collection but no right now I have no plans to go for publishing.

12. How do you weave stories? Do ideas flash and imagination takes care of the rest or it’s totally derived from what you’ve experienced?
=> Usually I am stuck with a lot of abstract ideas and when I find that one of them needs a necessity to be expressed, I weave it around a real life experience. This is how it works for me most of the times.

13. Tell me about your recent venture, iitstories? I must say it’s a wonderful website, in terms of content and aesthetics.
=> Thank you! I sincerely feel that IIT system lacks inspiration and students there lose sight of what they want to do with their lives. iitstories is an effort to share stories of people who can become inspiring characters for such students. It's focused on highlighting the diversity of fields like engineering, research, business, entertainment, journalism, music etc which IITians have chosen over the years and doing really well. 

14. Do you see any business prospects with it?
=> iitstories is still in its development phase. We are considering few ideas, lets see how it unfolds in the coming months.

15. Now that you’ve left your job, how do you plan to go forth with your venture as well as writing?
=> I am not a regular time writer, so taking the venture ahead would be the prime objective in the coming days. Meanwhile i will keep working on my stories. I hope you will see some great work in the coming time.

16. Before we end up, I know about your passion for animation. Tell my readers about the entire experience of animation. In IIT, how did you get interested in animation? Are you still pursuing it?
=> Animation was something that caught me in my final year. I wanted a more expressive medium to convey the thoughts I wrote in my stories so I decided to explore it. What really gave me the kick was when Prof. Nitin Donde liked my story so much that he decided to make a 3-min animation movie Aitbaar on it. For me it was one of the happiest days as it opened the world of children stories and animation to me. We have some plans in that area but they require dedicated effort so time is a problem right now.

17. What does inspiration mean to you? How important is its role in one’s life.
=> In very simple words, inspiration to me is like taste in food or color in a picture. It is something that make your work and life much more beautiful and meaningful.

18. What next? 2 years down the line, where do you see iitstories, your stories and yourself?
=> Coming 2 years will be really challenging and will demand a great deal of learning from my part. I wish to see iitstories ignite a few brilliant minds into pursuing ideas they are passionate about. I wish to see my stories grow in numbers and certainly attract more regular readers. And for me, I just wish I be here to tell you about another of my ventures.

Rapid fire round:

Q: Favorite Place:
=> Home

Q: Favorite Cuisine: 
=> Not much of a foodie but kheer is my favourite

Q: Favorite Gadget:
=> Camera

Q: Favorite Book: 
=> Fountainhead

Q: Most inspiring person for you: 
=> Presently I am very much inspired by Harish Hande

Q: What do you like being more? An engineer or a writer? 
=> Writer

Q: Any new hobby that you wish to inculcate.
=> Learn music

Q: If you were to write a book someday, what would it be about.
=> Let it be a surprise

To end it all; I am sure those who haven't gone through his writings yet must be very willing to read what he writes so here goes the link to his blogger profile - Abhay Shukla

Followed by the animation movie made by Abhay and his team!