Every year, in the countdown to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, in partnership with the downthetubes web site, we bring you a series of interviews with guests at the event. Over 70 are attending in 2018 in October (and that’s not including creators you’ll find in the Comics Clock Tower).
This Festival Focus for 2018 is with Orijit Sen, a graphic artist, cartoonist and designer based in New Delhi, India.
He studied graphic design at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and is co-founder of People Tree - a collaborative studio and store for artists, designers and craftspeople.
Orijit started collecting and drawing comics in his early teens, and has been deeply involved with the development of comics and graphic novels in India. His pioneering work River of Stories, published by Kalpavriksh in 1994, is considered to be India's first graphic novel.
Orijit is also co-founder of the Pao Collective of graphic artists, and a key figure behind the award-winning Pao: The Anthology of Comics - Book One, published by Penguin in 2012. His comics and graphic art have been widely published and exhibited internationally.
What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?
Orijit: I'm working on a graphic novel based on the true story of the struggles of a sex workers collective in town called Sangli in western India.
Which comic project you've worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?
Orijit: Pao: The Anthology of Comics - Book One was a project I co-edited, and also contributed two stories to. it remains something of a landmark in the Indian comics scene. It's available on Amazon.
How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)
Orijit: My schedules vary depending on what i'm working on. I work on a variety of projects apart from comics, including murals, installations, editorial illustration, political cartoons and graphic design.
What's the best thing about being a comics creator?
Orijit: Having the ability and freedom to tell the kind of stories i think need to be told.
And the worst?
Orijit: The very long hours I have to spend sitting on my ass!
What most distracts you from getting your work done?
Orijit: Facebook, where I frequently post my satirical and political cartoons - and responding to all the feedback it generates.
Do you think it's easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?
Orijit: In India, the situation is somewhat better. There are more opportunities for young creators than there used to be.
Have you ever been to the Lake District before and if so what did you think of it? If you haven't, what are you expecting?
Orijit: No. I'm hoping to bump into good old Wordsworth, sitting under a nice tree overlooking a lake. I used to read him in school during English class!
But seriously, I am really looking forward to seeing the countryside and perhaps some of the old architecture of the region.
Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?
Orijit: Alan Moore. It would be an honour to meet such an inspirational figure.
How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?
Orijit: Festivals are really great for bringing creators and readers/ aficionados face to face, and also for creating a platform for creators to meet, share, exchange ideas and get inspired from each other.
What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?
Orijit: Try not to! Join the industry I mean (smiles). But even if you do, always save some time and energy for your own independent projects and learn to love drawing deeply and become really really good at it.
One way or the other, you're going to be spending most of your life hunched over a desk doing only that!
What's your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?
Orijit: I'm re-reading Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazake these days. It remains one of my all time favourites. its available on amazon.
Orijit, thank you very much for your time and thoughts on creating comics. We look forward to seeing you in Kendal in October!
• The Lakes International Comic Art Festival will be back in Kendal 12th – 14th October 2018. Tickets for the Festival are on sale now from the web site: www.comicartfestival.com | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Podcast
ORIJIT SEN ONLINE
• The Pao Collective is online at paocollective.wordpress.com
• The British Council: The Indian Graphic Novel is here to stay - an article by Paul Gravett
Interview questions and feature by John Freeman