A satirical web comic on things that happen only in India

  • Arundhati Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jul 16, 2016 10:52 IST
Untitled comic strips from Brown Paperbag (Sailesh Gopalan)

Bengaluru-based animation student Sailesh Gopalan’s satirical web comic on Indian life — Brown Paperbag — is going viral

Does your mum ask you to not give or take money with your left hand? Do you try to find some reason behind the same, but fail? Are you tired of people breaking traffic rules, and then blaming you?

Bengaluru-based animation student Sailesh Gopalan (21) presents a hilarious take on such everyday scenarios in his web comic, Brown Paperbag. Gopalan’s first comic went online on June 24. And within 24 hours, his Facebook page had 40,000 likes. Three weeks, and 16 episodes later, his page now has around 70,000 likes.

Untitled comic strip from Brown Paperbag (Sailesh Gopalan)

Like most of us, Gopalan’s initiation into the world of comics was through childhood staples — Tintin, Asterix, Archie Comics, and Calvin and Hobbes. “I’d try to draw characters from these comic strips. I found their varying art styles interesting. I also enjoyed newspaper cartoons like Pearls Before Swine and Bizarro. Eventually, I started reading a lot of Japanese manga. My sense of drawing has been heavily influenced by all of them,” he says.

Gopalan is on a constant look out for inspiration. At home, at college, traffic signals, markets. He does not follow any process of brainstorming or writing comics. “I sometimes list down topics I could make comics about and think about ways of representing them. Sometimes, a comic is inspired from an event I witness or experience in the day. Sometimes, an idea just strikes me and I head straight to my computer and don’t move an inch till I’m done drawing it,” he explains.

Untitled comic strip from Brown Paperbag (Sailesh Gopalan)

But this was an unplanned venture, he tells us. Gopalan started the comic on a whim, after observing a severe dearth of Indian comics reflecting everyday life.

“Most popular Indian comics are either political satire or mythological. I simply wish to bring something new to the table,” he says, adding, “As soon as I’d thought up an idea for episode 1, I drew the comic and sent it to my friend. He responded with positive feedback and that encouraged me to draw many more. I started the Facebook page nearly a week after that, when I had enough comics to manage regular updates.”

Untitled comic strip from Brown Paperbag (Sailesh Gopalan)

However, the third-year student of Animation Design in Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru, says animation is his “foremost interest and continues to be so, although comics are certainly very appealing too”. A mix of the two, he says, will be his “idea of an ideal career”.

“I’m still a student. I have taken up several freelance projects and commission work, but making comics is not my bread and butter. I am yet to earn anything from Brown Paperbag, but I hope to see it published someday,” says the artist.

View Sailesh Gopalan’s comic on facebook.com/brownpaperbagcomics

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