ANNOUNCEMENT: I am looking for an artist to draw Kalpa. If you are a graphic artist with the time, skill and balls to take on a 120-page graphic novel, I can promise you status as India’s first bigtime kickass graphic novel artist. Please mail me on rimibchatterjeeATgmailDOTcom with cv and jpeg work samples. I have a publisher and an inker, letterer and compositor; I need a penciller and colourist.
Here are sample pages of my graphic novel Kalpa. The first part is scripted, and is called Shadowfalls. The second part, called Shadowbox, is being written. Here’s a description of the main character, from the introduction to my script.
The main character, Kalpa Chakradhar, can inhabit the memory traces or ‘shadows’ of people who are dead. Moments of significance in people’s lives, especially their deaths, leave behind these traces, which she can detect and ‘fall’ into so that she experiences what the dead person felt, but she cannot change what happens, and she can relive a memory only once. She discovered this power when she was a schoolgirl on an outing; she fell into the shadow of a tribal girl killed by a zamindar and experienced her death. Devastated, she went into a state of shock and was put in a mental hospital where she spent most of her youth, but she learned to control and hide her gift, passed her school finals from hospital and was discharged aged twenty. Now twenty-six, she is a journalist in the beautiful and decadent city of Alinagar, where she uses her talent to find missing people or solve murders, but is careful never to draw attention to herself.
The following pages are rejects. If you scroll down you’ll see how the pages have been developing through various drafts. I am not posting the final pages, you’ll have to wait for the book to see them. But this will give you an idea.
This page was drawn by Dhruba Chatterjee and coloured by Vaishali Mallik. The lettering, composition and cleanup were done by Avijit Chatterjee.
This page was drawn and coloured by Deepak Sharma. Deepak can draw directly on the screen with a digital tablet, and he produced this page in a matter of minutes. We then had to agonise over the errors; it’s very painful to mess with that first fine careless rapture. I’ve since persuaded him that its a really good idea to read the whole script first.
Since we’ve skipped two pages, the story won’t make sense. Briefly, Kalpa is flashing back to when she went on a school trip to Jharkhand, and stayed at a hotel rumoured to be haunted. She and a friend stay up in a broom closet for a lark. Kalpa falls into the shadow of a young tribal girl raped and killed by a zamindar, the previous owner of the villa. She thinks it’s a dream, but she can’t wake up.
This page gave us endless trouble and was done at the last minute after several ideas had been tried and trashed. Dhruba drew the figures and Avijit assembled the page. Kalpa is lost in the shadow world. She’s going to spend the next nine years there (we’ll flash through that rapidly) till we get back to her in the present. There’s another incomplete version fo this that we’re agonising over now.
We have a tentative deal with a publisher, but we’re still short of funds for the book. The publisher does not object to us getting a grant from a charitable body or a corporate sponsor. If anyone has any ideas or offers on how we could fund this, please leave a comment here and I will get in touch with you. We need up to 3 lakhs to be able to fund the drawing of the first part ie 120 pages.
28 November 2008. We have completed the character designs and have thumbnailed up to page 21. The first of December is our official start-work day. We’re going to be redoing pages 8,9 and 10 as we weren’t satisfied with them. Watch this space.
STOP PRESS AGAIN
All right, page 1 and pages 2-3 follow here, in updated but still not final versions.
I have since rescripted pages 1-6 and added more content to flesh out the beginning (which was giving us enormous trouble) and this page has gone. Here are pages 2 and 3, also discarded now.
Work has been slowed because of the recession which has squeezed my earnings from workshops and other sources. Plus Kriyetic is going through a bad patch and may not be part of the project in the end. Everything is under review.
We’ve also realised that our way of working was wrong, and we’ve spent a certain amount of time going round in circles as a result. Tip to the unwary: ALWAYS THUMBNAIL EVERYTHING FIRST. It saves much grief.
FURTHER STOP PRESS: Due to irreconcilable differences over our method of working, Kriyetic and I have decided to part ways. This means that I don’t have an artist any more, as Deepak has too much work on his hands. Deepak and I will be working together on other projects however; he’s doing the drawings for my forthcoming novel Black Light, and he’s still in with Project C.
I have rescripted the whole novel now, completely changing the structure of the story and some of the main characters, though Kalpa’s still her old self. It’s now a lot tighter, more dramatic and shows more of the city, its horrors and wonders, its crime syndicates and corruption and courtesans and history and street markets and the whole deal. Which I desperately wanted to do: why invent an alternative Calcutta if you don’t show lots of it in the story?
Anyone out there interested in drawing Kalpa? Please get in touch if you’re an artist with the time and skill to take on a 120-page major graphic novel.