Brown Paperbag Comic’s Sailesh talks to Graphicshelf

Sailesh Gopalan began Brown Paperbag Comic on June 2016 while studying animation at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Bangalore. Brown Paperbag Comic went viral within a month after its launch, getting over 70,000 followers in first three weeks.

Where did it all begin for you? What made you get into writing /drawing graphic novels or art in general?

It all began in this humble little place hidden somewhere along the west coast of India. It’s a small town called Bombay, you wouldn’t have heard of it. I was a little baby when my parents discovered I had some “artistic talent”, and much to the horror of any sane orthodox family, they didn’t discourage it. They were mostly fascinated by the stories I’d come up with around the drawings I’d make. I’d say my primary interest has always been in storytelling and narrative-building, and it helps heaps that I possess the artistic ability to portray it.

What kind of graphic material do you read or follow?

I used to read western comics as a kid, but these days I mostly just read Japanese manga. I like their raw form of storytelling, much more expressive and emotional.

What/ Who are your inspirations and earliest influences?

Earliest inspiration, much like for most other 90s kids, would be Akira Toriyama’sDragon Ball Z I must have spent at least a few years of my childhood just drawing Goku and his friends. I think one of the methods to becoming a more versatile artist depends on how early you can move past that phase.
Other than that, my biggest inspiration for everything art-related is Eiichiro Oda, author of One Piece. Words cannot express how big a role he’s played in my life, in terms of inspiring art, narrative and dedication.

What do you think of the prevalent graphic novel and comic culture in India? Is it stagnating or growing?

Growing, certainly. But from what I’ve seen, most people would only read free content. The audience is growing more and more receptive to art and entertainment, but art hasn’t reached a stage where it’s deemed important enough to invest in. My observation could very well be flawed because the webcomic industry is fairly separate from the published graphic novel and comics industry.

Does the current narrative prevalent in the graphic novel and comic world reflect our political and social situations?

If you’re referring to the narrative within the comics, I’m afraid I wouldn’t know. If you’re talking about the industry itself, then yes. Everything has political and social implications.  Bureaucracy and politics plague the industry, but that isn’t the crux of the problem. The mindset of the people has to change from seeing entertainment as a secondary, optional form of satisfaction to a mandatory investment that improves quality of life.

Brown Paperbag comic
Brown Paperbag comic’s Sailesh Gopalan in Graphicshelf

And on a lighter note;

Tell me the most random thing about your art process.

I always start drawing a face from the ear. I still haven’t been able to figure out why.

If you could sum up the life of an artist in ONE word, what would it be?

Depre-… uh, I mean… er… Dynamic. The industry doesn’t understand itself, so it changes all the time. Being able to adapt is a necessary skill to survive as an artist.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring artists or illustrators?

Stop simply aspiring and start doing. Most brilliant ideas are kept hidden from the world because of an artist’s hesitation. Put that artwork up! Share that character design! Show people what you can do. Don’t be afraid of the people who won’t like it, look forward to the people who will. There’s no better learning than that. Keep that up and you’ll shoot past me in no time haha you better not, I’ll crush you .

The most stalkable person on Instagram right now

There’s this random artist I came across called @saileshgopalan, not sure if you’ve heard of him. Heard he has a pretty famous webcomic or something too. Seems like a nice guy. Could use some more followers.

Why the name “brown paperbag comic”? (always been curious about this one)

Your curiosity is my fuel.

Social media links: 

Instagram (Brown Paperbag Comic):
Instagram (Art account):
Facebook (Brown Paperbag Comic):


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