With their in-your-face humour and artistic skills, cartoonists Rohan Chakravarty and Arjun Srivathsa have taken the debate around environmental issues in India many notches higher. In separate interviews to Deepa Philip, they explain how their love for the environment influences their cartoons, making people sit up and pay attention.
Edited Excerpts from an interview
What made you take to cartoons to express your concerns about the environment?
I have four left feet and a lopsided smile, so being a movie star was out of the question. Kidding. I’ve always had a love for wildlife and cartooning and decided to mate the two and see what comes out of the wedlock.
What edge do cartoons have over other artistic mediums in raising awareness about the environment?
Cartoons, in my view, have an advantage over other forms of expression such as articles or movies and, to a certain extent even animation in the fact that they do not enforce an opinion on readers but give them a while to think and form a view of his own. That’s where cartoons score, no matter what issue they portray, provided they are done well.
Tell us something about your website.
Green Humour (www.greenhumour. com) is an archive of my cartoons, comics, illustrations and other projects— campaign posters, infographics and illustrated maps. As a comic strip, Green Humour holds the distinction of being India’s first and only comic strip to be distributed by a major international comics syndicate, Universal Press Syndicate’s Gocomics (www.gocomics.com/greenhumour/). The series appears periodically on the Gocomics website and several other publications, including wildlife magazines, journals and one fortnightly newspaper column (The Hindu Blink). The website also displays merchandise that I create and sell out of my artwork.
The website and its social media pages enjoy a daily international readership.
Tell us about those who inspired you to use cartoons as a means of conveying a social message
I have personally never been a fan of political cartoons, the only exception being the work of Ali Farzat, whose fearlessness and skill I greatly admire. Among Indian cartoonists, I have a special respect for the work of RK Laxman. His work was several notches higher than the political cartoons being published in India today, most of which are distastefully written, shoddily drawn and poorly edited. Among the cartoonists whose work has tremendously inspired Green Humour are Patrick Mcdonnell of Mutts (who frequently portrays issues concerning animal rights in his strip), Gary Larson’s Far Side and Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes.