Webcomic Tease: Nishant Jain

A few odd years ago, Nishant was just another boy. Today, he is the boy behind Testimonial Comics. The one stop web comic for Indians who have a sense of humour, an appreciation of the absurd and of course, a love for rajma chawal! Read Strip Tease the Mag’s tête-à-tête with Nishant ‘Testimonial Comics’ Jain!

ST: How did you come up with the idea for Testimonial Comics?
NJ: Even though I’ve always been writing, I never really thought about making comics. But one day I really desperately wanted to poke fun at a friend, and a comic seemed the best way to do it. So I drew my first comic, as a ‘testimonial’ to her. That’s how things started, and then didn’t stop. The idea behind the Testimonial Comics is that there is a lot of humour everywhere, and we need to stop and look and laugh and maybe life won’t be so bad anymore.

ST: Life, Bollywood and rajma chawal… quite a combination. But why these?
NJ: The rajma chawal is there because it’s really an important part of my life. Runs through my veins, and what not. As for Bollywood, my childhood was shaped by Mogambo, the mom in Karan Arjun, and Crime Master Gogo. Growing up, Bollywood was my education system. Finally, whatever is left behind, is Life. The tagline “Life, Bollywood and rajma chawal” is a little cliched, but it’s as simple a description as I can come up with.ST. The world of webcomics, describe how awesome it is in one line.
NJ: It’s a filter through which you can see the colours and laughters inside otherwise ordinary lives.

ST: The eternal battle of growing up vs growing old. Which way are you heading right now?
NJ: I read somewhere that “the creative adult is the child who never grew up”. We can and should grow up, be more responsible about our actions, do good things and all that. But growing old has more to do with becoming rigid about beliefs, letting go of passions and innocent enthusiasm. Becoming jaded seems like an important part of ‘growing old’. I don’t think I want to grow old, in that sense. I’m not even entirely sure I want to grow up, to be frank! I could use some time-traveling back to when I was 10 and played with GI Joes. Those really were the Calvin & Hobbes kind of days!

ST: So there are a lot of webcomics out there, do you look at them as competition or are you beyond all of this?
NJ: Everytime I read The Oatmeal, once I’m done laughing my ass off, I spend a few minutes just hating that guy for being so brilliant. Jealousy and competition will never go away, but if it goes hand in hand with admiration, I think it balances out.

ST: How long to you take to come up with one comic? And what is the brainstorming session like?
NJ: I come up with comics at random times during the day. I type notes of it in my phone (thank you, Evernote!) or scribble things on paper. Then when I sit to draw, I close my eyes and think in panels until I see how to draw it. This usually works. When it doesn’t, I go out for a drink. That doesn’t help either, but then I forget about things and draw again tomorrow!

ST: Name three webcomics that inspire you and three webcomics everyone should read.

NJ: The Oatmeal, XKCD and Wondermark are my favourites. XKCD is an obvious inspiration to anyone who wants to draw but isn’t a natural artist. Next on my list would be Fredo & Pid’jin, The Doghouse Diaries and this obscure Indian webcomic called Crocodile in Water, Tiger on Land.

ST: Do you have any future projects in mind?
NJ: Recently, I’ve done some things on commission, of which I’m very proud. I drew a 20-pg comic book for a girl who wanted to celebrate her love story with her boyfriend in this special way. That was a lot of work, and we were both really happy with how it came out. I also just drew a poster for a couple getting married, in the style of a Bollywood movie trailer. Recently heard from them about how much they loved it, and that was great!

In other things, I do some freelance writing and am working on some short stories which I’m planning to illustrate myself. We’ll see where those end up!

ST: Wise words to everyone out there who love Testimonial Comics.
NJ: Wise? I don’t know! But thank you! You guys make me blush every time!

ST: Lastly, if you could choose one comic of yours to swear by, which one would that be?
NJ: I think it would be this one titled “People Are Cool”. It’s about the common silly things we all do in normal life, but don’t appreciate as anything special. I think everyone is unique and potentially amazing. If we could understand that, we would all be a lot happier on our tiny planet.