We got an opportunity to talk to Srijani Goswami, a graphic designer/artist from Kolkata, who recently published her Bengali comic Sleep.
Tell us something about your journey as a graphic-based storyteller? How did it start?
I was a storyteller since childhood and got drawn towards comics such as- Tintin, Asterix, et cetera. Although my school discouraged reading comics, perhaps due to the common perception of them being immature as a text, I was still attracted to them. This attraction intensified when as an adult I got an opportunity to travel to Los Angeles. There, I was introduced to a huge collection of famous, internationally-renowned graphic novels at the County Library. That is where I started showing interest to write graphic-based stories on my own and find them to be the best medium for me to express my emotions.
It was wonderful how a library kickstarted your journey to be a graphic-novelist and a designer, tell us about your influences?
I love human psychology and the stories that can capture its essence. I believe that there is so much that we can learn from every person we meet, including even a child. As far as my earliest influences are concerned, I believe Craig Thompson, Charles Burnes, Neil Gaiman, Rutu Modan, and Herge were pivotal in shaping my visual narrative.
What kind of graphic novels or works do you follow?
I love reading autobiographical/biographical graphic novels since these are based on people’s life. I find people’s life interesting. Even while traveling if I come across any stranger I request them to share their stories. Blanket, Persepolis, Exit wounds are all biographical masterpieces I admire.
What to do you think of the contemporary graphic novel/comic culture in India?
Today we can see a large segment of the audience is below 25 and is digitally connected. In earlier days fans were scattered all over, but now they are more powerful. It is about building a community. A few years ago, Indian graphic novels were mainly based on Indian mythology, but at present, we are breaking all stereotypes to explore new trends.
How do you see it in terms of growth, do you think its growing?
I can see a significant growth as many storytellers are gaining their audience through social media posts and blogging. Expansion of the Comic-Con Brand and taking it to different cities has helped the storytellers and new publishing houses to both, exhibit their works and to gain recognition.
Is the current narrative in the contemporary graphic novels/comics reflective of political and social situations?
Yes, it does, comics have been continually used as a medium to deliver a message of social change. From promoting the education of a girl child to the fight for domestic abuse, comics have helped to increase the social awareness in recent times. Graphic Novels and Web Comics are helping on lesser-known topics like identifying abuse, sex education, mental illnesses and many more.
Do you feel graphic novels/comics are a medium to raise questions about our society and its changing times?
Comic movement is a social awareness to empower the populations by providing them a medium which is both simple to create and understand. We should do more comics; If we can tell graphic stories to raise questions, our next generation might see a better future.
Srijani Goswamy is a licensed Artist/Visual designer and Doodler. Srijani’s first illustrations were published in Samasamayik magazine and Khabor 365 Kolkata. Shortly after that she started working as a freelance visual designer and worked for many clients all over the world. She earned a few awards for many design competitions such as the prestigious special Jury award in Indywood talent hunt held in Ramoji film city Hyderabad for poster design.The majority of her studio time is spent on small-scale illustrations on paper, doodling, and Short comics but she also enjoys painting with mixed media and accepts custom art orders. Her recently published Bengali comic “Sleep” can be found on Amazon, Flipkart, and other e-commerce websites.
She started her new venture as an entrepreneur for “Createes” which sells freshly melted T-shirts, hoodies and other apparels with interesting stories that lie beneath.
Her Facebook store can be accessed here