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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Editor Interview: Rajani Thindiath, Comic Book Editor, Tinkle

Presenting Rajani Thindiath, Editor, Tinkle. Storyteller, writer of comics and fiction. There is one thing that this editor plus writer has, and that is advice and loads of advice. 

Asking me to edit it, were her words, but I really do not or rather, cannot see the point in doing so. So, let’s have it, Folks… 

What are you looking for in a comic book?

As a reader, I love humour and fantasy. So no surprises, my favourite comics are Calvin and Hobbes, Asterix and Bone.

What, according to you are the qualities of an ideal writer?

I don’t believe there is an ideal writer, not when there are so many kinds of writing. As a reader and a writer, I enjoy someone with an imagination unconstrained by the usual and the clich├ęd.

If the writer can also surprise, evoke empathy in the reader and has the ability to bring to life and explore the quirks of the characters and situations she creates, I would be hooked. :)
Could you explain the process, from writing, drawing to editing, and finally, printing?

Creating a comics story means starting with an idea. If you are lucky, you get an idea
right off (which is rare!). Otherwise, you try every trick in the book to first find an idea, plug in the loopholes, give it layers and finally end with a bang.

This is just the beginning. Next comes scripting, which can go into multiple drafts till the editor is satisfied (ahem! :D). The final script is sent to the artist, who works on character sketches and pencils in the artwork. This artwork is checked against the script for consistency after which it is inked. The artwork is lettered and coloured, and proofed multiple times for any errors, before it is sent for printing. Phew! :D

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

With regard to stories for Tinkle comics, we look for works that are child friendly (so out go superstition, politics, religion, violence, death and anything inappropriate).

An innovative idea, that can surprise and evoke laughter or empathy, gets our thumbs up. It would be great if the story has a strong beginning and end, with a few plot turns to hold the reader’s interest.

What are your top three favourite books?

Which are your favourite comic books?
Like I mentioned, Calvin and Hobbes, Asterix, Bone and without bias Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle comics, right from my childhood. :)

Could you tell us about some of your upcoming titles? 

We recently released our 34th Anniversary Issue themed Wish Upon a Tinkle Star, where we fulfilled wishes sent by our young readers, down the years.

We have also recently come out with a new batch of character collections of the rising stars in the Tinkle pantheon—SuperWeirdos and Dental Diaries, along with old favourites Suppandi and Paws & Claws (animal tales).

Next up are the Tinkle Tall Tales, graphic novels based on our popular characters. The second edition includes books on Tantri the Mantri, SuperWeirdos, as well as Suppandi and Dental Diaries in the months to follow.

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

I love the parts that involve reading and writing stories, reading mails from our young readers, and planning a special issue or theme.

The hard part is when I have to say a story does not work to a writer.

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

Speaking from my experiences, it helps to try many many things you are not good at because even though you may not make any headway in those directions, they all become fodder for your writing material, sooner or later. :D

Read, read, read. Observe people, situations, expressions (unlike a tunnel-visioned me!).

Once you are decided on writing, or are lucky enough to know so beforehand, just write. Write what you would enjoy reading as a reader. (However if you are writing for a particular age group it helps to keep that in mind!)

Writing is hard work, so waiting for the muse doesn’t always work. If you are struck by an idea you are blessed. Otherwise, get your brain used to writing for a set number of hours every day. The brain is a creature of habit. Once you get it used to churning out ideas, it will get used to doing so on a daily basis.

The only way to work through writer’s block (when you get stuck and the ideas refuse to come) is to write through it. You may write crap, but you can always rework later.

If you stop writing, you may as well give in. Of course, taking a walk, switching to doing something else creative also boosts those brain cells. Just remember, a writer’s block can be overcome with persistence.

If you finish your work (honestly, there is no finishing your work, you will always want to edit, polish, rewrite, but if you finally say, ‘I am mostly satisfied with this’), take a break and then read it. Read it as a reader. Stay objective (you wouldn’t want to put off an editor with grammatical or spelling mistakes).

You may have written the best dialogues, the most gripping scenes, the most descriptive passages, however if they don’t come together within the framework of your story or plot, be ruthless, edit them out. No material is wasted; you will find use for it sooner or later.

Now, get someone else to read it before you send the story across for publishing. Art is subjective, so don’t be disheartened by a less-than-flattering response. If you are objective enough check if you can improve your work keeping in mind any advice that comes your way. If not, keep sending your works, BUT never stop writing. All the best. :)

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

Haha! No! I started off wanting to be a biologist after reading about Jagdish Chandra
Jagdish Chandra Bose
in third standard :D, then an astronomer, tried studying to be a psychologist, animator and journalist in that order; before I realized that what I liked best was reading and spinning stories.

In your capacity of a storyteller, are you working on anything? If so, a few details on the same.

At Tinkle, I still write stories as and when I can, both stand-alones as well as tales based on our inhouse characters.

In my own time, there has been a manuscript in the works. With my love of fantasy, of course I had to write in that genre :D There are a few other ideas as well, once I finish off this one.

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