Today, I draw (or rather, get published) my 50th comic for Pagalguy.
Why's that a huge milestone, you ask? After all, I've done more for Sportskeeda in a much shorter span of time. And heck, it's been over two years, so wasn't that 50th long overdue? Was it a case of Tendulkaritis?
The Pagalguy comics will always remain special to me for the same reason that the Manchester century remains special to Tendulkar, and Please Please Me remains special to Paul McCartney (actually it doesn't, but it's a poetic example and let's not ruin it by factoring in that annoying thing called reality). It was the first set of cartoons I'd ever done.
When I'd started out with the PG comics, things were extremely raw, and it's almost embarrassing to go back and see what the older cartoons look like (heck - the earlier comics were digitized by using a P&S camera!). But then, those were days of experiments... And while I'm not likely to give Stan Lee or Satish Acharya sleepless nights just yet, I suppose some amount of technique and form have managed to inadvertently creep in - much like how even the most ascetic and resistant participant of an MBA program just manages to say 'paradigm' by his third trimester.
It was funny how it all started. 2009 was a terrible year for me, and I badly needed something to distract me. Things got off to a great start in 2010 when I was given the chance to interview of one my heroes, Warren Mendonsa, perhaps India's finest guitarist. One of my favourite Indian comic creators, Saad Akhtar aka FlyYouFools, ran a contest in which I won a consolation prize officially, but the audience vote (and isn't that more satisfying?) by a mile.
So good friend Apurv, who edits Pagalguy, got in touch. The idea of satire on the editorial part of the website was brewing for a while and they were wondering how to do it, and this comic contest provided the perfect impetus. In fact, you'll see a very (raw) FlyYouFoolsesque influence in our first ever comic.
Quite honestly, we were overwhelmed by what was to come post that. Each post got hundreds of comments and people were obviously lapping up to it. Heck, it even got to the stage where we were able to put in in-jokes (MII institutes, RAT, the character Prof. Thambee A, etc) and loyalists would get it. It was fantastic. Heck, in 2011, Pagalguy even gave me an award for best article for a comic I made - I was shocked, because there are actual articles that are way better, with research and stuff.
Personally, Pagalguy opened up a lot. I started doing stuff for MTV, Cricinfo, In.com, Yahoo!, Sify, CrazyEngineers and Sportskeeda after that, all while managing a day job which I love. It's been a fantastic passage of life, and I've been lucky to do a lot of that work - but somehow I'll owe it largely to Pagalguy for actually finding merit enough in my comics to pay me for them.
But the biggest person to thank (cliche coming up) are the readers who made the comics what they were. I read each and every comment of everything that I do - some call it paranoia, some call it CRM - it's actually a mix of both. You junta on Twitter and Facebook who put up with the incessant plugging, bother to read and sometimes even share.
I'd like to think I have a long, long way to go. And I do. My drawings are not great, and I've had my fair share of misses. But we all learn, and I wanna say thanks to Allwin (PG's founder) and Apurv for helping me do that.
This was not meant to be an awards ceremony-like speech, which I realise this has turned into, so it's best I end now.
I'll end with my top 5 Pagalguy comics, ones which I truly loved myself.
5. What if Apple decided to launch a BSchool? Introducing the iMBA
4. The substance-pfaff matrix
3. The cricket stump marketing model
2. What if Lalit Modi took over our top management schools?
1. How most people prepare for BSchool entrance exams
Thanks for stickin' around, yo :) The 50th comic is a contest, which should be out sometime during the course of the day.