Rohan Chakravarty: The man behind Green Humour comes out with a new comic book

Updated: Jul 18, 2018, 14:04 IST | Kusumita Das | Mumbai

A one-of-a-kind comic book takes readers on a wildlife trail through the length and breadth of the country

The first comic book by WWF-India that has just hit the shelves has mid-day cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty's name on the cover. But Chakravarty, known for the witty Green Humour strip, had to think differently for this one. "For Green Humour, I usually use anthropomorphised wild animals, but, for this particular series of comics, I was asked not to personify animals and use human characters instead to tell my story."

Titled The Great Indian Nature Trail With Uncle Bicky, created by Chakravarty and Bijal Vaccharajani, the book explores the richness of India's biodiversity in an absorbing interactive format. At its core, it's the story of its protagonists Uncle Bikky, Chunmun and their dog Duggu, whose adventures we follow over 16 chapters, while picking up nuggets about the wealth of wildlife and their protection.

The book was developed for WWF India's new environment education website for kids, One Planet Academy. It's a mix of did-you-knows, tutorials, and jigsaw puzzles. "We were thinking of ways to elaborate on what the comics speak about, and we concluded that illustrated essays were our best bet. Bijal Vachharajani, who has written the essays, has great experience writing for children, and came up with the ideas for the activities that you see in the book," he adds. Chakravarty was clear on keeping the book simple. "I have consciously tried not to do anything fancy or abstract at all with this book, keeping everything — stories, conversations, compositions — as simple as I could. Art analysts may not enjoy the book too much!" he adds.

Cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty
Cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty

The young cartoonist admits that he travels only to seek wildlife. "And food! Being an avid birdwatcher, my travel revolves entirely around them. Watching birds means that you also end up watching a lot of other kinds of wildlife that share the same habitat. So, birds are my gateway to nature," he says. Did he travel specially for this book, we ask. "Unfortunately, I didn't have an allowance to travel specially for this book. (I hope my publisher notes)," he says tongue firmly in cheek. "But, many of the comics are based on places I have visited — such as the Hornbill comic from Pakke, and the Sloth Bear comic from Daroji. For others, I relied on information provided by WWF India, that has field units in most of the places the book mentions. Having said that, the comics would never have turned into a book without the support of WWF India, for which I am eternally grateful."

The artist also often doodles on the field, drawing cartoons of animals he finds interesting. His illustrated notes become reference material for later. In India, his favourite destination is Arunachal Pradesh. "I have visited the eastern-most and the western-most regions of the state and I am completely astounded by its natural beauty. Like George Orwell puts it, for me, all places in India are equal, but Arunachal is a bit more equal than others," he says. He has travelled to eight countries and visited 40 national parks, but, "clearly, have not been travelling as much as I aspire to". He has been chased by a wild boar once, and tumbled off a raft in ice-cold rapids. "But, I feel much safer in a forest compared to crossing a road in the city," he says.

Check out his cute Green Humour comic strips here

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