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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Editor Interview: Reena Puri, Comic Book Editor, Amar Chitra Katha

Folks, we begin our Publishing Interviews, today. We’ll talk to editors, and try and find out the process of publishing. What all it entails, and as writers what we all need to do to help make it a smoother process.

So, we are starting off with Amar Chitra Katha comic book editor, Reena Puri. She talks to us about what an ideal writer would be like and how she would look at a comic book.  And the tips she would give to us, aspiring writers…

 So, Read on Folks and find out more…

What are you looking for in a comic book?

A story well told. Reading made easy. Interesting visuals and layouts.  In an Amar Chitra Katha, I look for Indian relevance apart from the above three.

What are the qualities of an ideal writer?

If you mean a writer of comic scripts then it is the ability to see the story in visuals rather than in words and be able to use words only to push the story forward. This needs tremendous skill and control over language. More importantly, the writer should be a natural storyteller who thinks in sounds and expressions.

Could you explain the process, from writing, drawing to editing, and finally, printing?

The process of creating a title starts with research. The source of every story has to be identified and authenticated. Backgrounds studied, interviews held and pictorial references acquired. Very often, the writer has to travel to different locations to study a subject or meet people. 

For example, while researching Mother Teresa, our writer volunteered with the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata to get a first-hand feel of the work being done, and also to talk to the people who had worked with Mother.

Then, a synopsis is written which outlines the plot for the 30 odd pages that the comic is comprised of. Once that is approved the script is written in the comics format. A script could require to be worked upon a couple of times during the editing process.
The final script with all the visuals and references in place is then given to the artist. The pages are first pencilled and sent to the editorial to be checked against the script. Most of the corrections are done at this stage.

The pages are then inked and sent to the colourist. After the colour comes the setting of the text, the proofing, colour and text corrections and finally, the comic is ready to go to print.

What sorts of project(s) are most likely to get an okay from you?

A good story, an inspiring person, a forgotten part of history, literature that tells the story of our country and folklore that could teach good principles and values.

What are your top three favourite books?

The Illiad, The Mahabharata, Alice in Wonderland (among many others – three is too small a number!)

Which are the favourite comic books?

The Phantom, The Beano and of course, ACK.

Could you tell us about some of your upcoming titles? 

We are working on a number of projects but the one we are busy with at the moment is Ayodhya Kand from the Ramayana.

What is your favourite thing about being an editor? And your least favourite thing?

Most favourite - Being the Associate Editor of Tinkle for many years and now of Amar Chitra Katha, I live in a world of stories, vivid pictures and brilliant colours.
My work has never felt boring or tedious. Each day is more exciting than the last.

Least favourite - Missing deadlines.

What is the one thing, you would you tell an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many tips as you would like)

Try and write every day. Even if it is a paragraph, writing skills like music need to be honed and perfected. And nothing is more valuable than practice.

Start by writing about what you are most familiar with.

You must love the language that you choose to write in. It is only when both of you are comfortable with each other that you can use it to give shape to your thoughts, and it will come forward and give you the words that you need to express those thoughts.

And then, the acid test that my founder editor, Anant Pai, taught me – After you have written, catch hold of someone (in my case, it was a child just rushing out at playtime!) who is busy doing something and read out your piece to them. The response will give you a feedback about your work.

Did you always know that you wanted to be a children’s book editor? 

I wanted to write for children and I still do. Some of that, I realised while working as Associate Editor of Tinkle. But now all my time is taken up in editing and coordinating. I hope I will be able to write again someday.

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