Drawing from love
With her new book out in India, popular comics artist Catana Chetwynd on illustrating a loved one, creating humour and Indian fans
It's hard not to "aww" over Catana Chetwynd's Instagram (IG) account. Her comics series inspired by her bearded fiancé John has over 2.9 million followers on IG. She's now come out with a new book called Snug (Simon & Schuster India), which she began working on in early 2019. "It focuses a lot on the fun, silly moments that couples have when they have that level of friendship," she says. A fan of Mumbai-based cartoonist Sailesh Gopalan who runs Brown Paperbag Comics, Chetwynd also loves indulging in chalk art on pavements. She began creating comics in 2016, when John gave her the seed of an idea. They never anticipated such a huge following and wake up in disbelief every day. She says, "I don't think it will ever truly hit us."
Edited excerpts from the interview.
How has Catana Comics shaped your relationship?
The comics have shaped our relationship in so many ways. It's really helped me appreciate the little moments that happen every day. These moments are so small and fleeting that they are easy to miss, but when you have to illustrate them, it really forces you to notice and appreciate them!
Can pinning down that one humorous moment get difficult?
Sometimes, yes! I used to get really bent out of shape when I had artist's block, or when I couldn't figure out how to illustrate something. But I've come to realise that that's just a normal part of the process. No profession can continue flawlessly; there will always be frustrating aspects. But it's important not to get in your own head about them and realise they also have their places in your process.
What about Snug will resonate with readers in India, where romantic relationships aren't normalised as in the West?
We have a lot of fans in India who reach out often to tell us how much our comics resonate with them, and it always makes us incredibly happy. We hope that, while relationships may not be as normalised, there are couples that will be reassured seeing the way they act (or the way they want to act) portrayed in our comic. I hope the comics speak to people, even if they aren't in a relationship. They are fun and light-hearted, and we hope they bring those fun, light-hearted ideas to the forefront of their minds. The fact that so many different people enjoy the comic shows how similar we all are deep down, even oceans apart.
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