IN CONVERSATION WITH AWKWERRRRRD!

It was a small corner box in the daily newspapers that caught my eye- COMIC STRIP aka CARTOONS. Eminent cartoonists who rule the thrones of humour and social commitment are always a favourite among us!

And it comes as no surprise that Malayalam comics sprinkled with its humorous sarcasm is an instant hit amongst the masses!

Revolutionising the old syntaxes of comic strips, Bhaghya has brought to us her brilliant comics, which people find relatable to the greatest extent . And for the same reason, Bhaghya has a huge fanbase for her Instagram page, “awkwerrrrrd”.

PaperKin is glad to have Bhaghya Babu, the illustrator, comic artist and graphic designer and above all, the awkwerrrrrd girl on board!

1. The girl in awkwerrrrrd comic series is awkward and a mallu. Maybe, your true depiction?

Initially she was a fictional character , then as almost all the comics were inspired from real life, it became obvious to people that the character is myself and I couldn’t hide the fact any more. I did try though!

2. Why do you think being awkward is your niche? How do you define the “awkwardness”?

I wouldn’t describe myself as an awkward person but I do find myself in a lot of awkward situations — like everyone does!

3. How was the awkward mallu girl of your comic series born? Is there a backstory?

The girl was born in second year of college during a class assignment. But the malluness of the girl made its way in as the comics became more & more autobiographical.

Also read: From the Editor’s Desk!

4. Black and white, colour, 16.4k followers later…what do you think is the reason for your huge fan base?

Relatability! That’s the one thing that’s remained constant.

5. There have been only very few female cartoonists who have had the good fortune to keep Kerala laughing. What do you think is the reason for the same? Is it because, humour is tough to handle, or sarcasm is hard to deploy?

I don’t think it’s a gender-issue. Just in general, there might be fewer full-time comic artists in Kerala possibly because webcomic artist as a profession is a novelty concept. But it doesn’t mean that they do not exist here. There’s Studio Kokaachi — couple based in Kochi who publish stories in the form of comic books, the Comic collective — Kerala’s first library for exclusively comic books etc that are doing some amazing work!

6. So, the big question! Choose your favourite- Prawn pickle or Beef fry!

Amma’s beef fry anyday!

7. Which is your favourite article on PaperKin so far?

I haven’t had a chance to read them to be honest. But ‘Misogyny & Women in Film: Ever inseparable’ looks like an interesting read.

8. Why the 5 rrrrr in awkerrrrrd? Does it have some symbolism? (We have always wondered this!)

When you say it out loud in an awkward situation it sounds like “Awkwerrrrrd” with 5 rs …Drama :P Also because awkward was already taken.

9. Can you sketch a comic strip for paperkin? We would love to feature it!

Sorry, can’t make a comic but here’s a quick sketch instead.

10. In contrast to the old scenario, social media handles now provide a firm platform for the budding artists to reach out to the world. Instagram has been pivotal in your journey so far. How did you discover the potential of social media aiding your career?

Social media is already the next big thing! Everything I’ve done so far was out off the comfort of my home. It’s great for showcasing your portfolio, marketing, networking, engaging with clients- everything!

11. What would you like to tell other budding designers and artists who are scared to pursue their passion?

Unless you test the waters, how would you know if you will make it to the other side or not ? Take that leap of faith if you are really passionate about your goal. (keep in mind that I’m speaking from a place of privilege. Don’t just go right ahead and quit your job without weighing your options first :P)

12. How much have your parents contributed to your awkerrrrrd posts? We see them featured now and then. Do you actually tell them that they are gonna be in your comics beforehand?

They are my muses! From inspiration to feedback- it’s all them. They’ve actually been super supportive from the beginning. I run everything by them first before I post it.

Also read: In conversation with Sana Khader

13. Why did you still choose to use Malayalam in your posts (yea, being a mallu is one thing we all are proud of!) when you had the chance of using English to reach out to the rest of the whole world too?

I like to keep it as real as possible! My mom has one liners which are mostly in Malayalam, which have to be portrayed as it is.

But I use mainly English with some common mallu words here and there. Even without it, the comic would make sense to a non-mallu speaker.

14. What drives you to doodle? Where do you derive your inspiration from?

I’ve been doodling ever since I can remember. It’s something I can see myself doing for the rest of my life!

And inspiration comes from anyone and anything around me! I have a dad who wants to stay forever young, a mom who loves to clean, a sister who is not easily amused and friends who give me a lot of ideas just by being themselves. What more do i need? :P

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