Enlightening minds with comics

L to R: Francesca Cotta, Aniruddha Sen Gupta and Orijit Sen

Launched last month, Comixense is a comics quarterly magazine that touches upon all aspects of life that young people in India encounter today. NT KURIOCITY learns more


Aimed primarily at teenagers between 12 and 17 years old, Comixense is a comics quarterly, conceived and produced by a team led by Orijit Sen, in partnership with Sanjiv Kumar and his team at Ektara Trust. It is produced as a collaboration between People Tree studio and Takshila Publication. 

The Goa-based editorial team of the magazine includes Sen as chief editor; Aniruddha Sen Gupta as the consulting editor, and Francesca Cotta as the

associate editor.

A graphic artist, muralist, cartoonist and designer, Sen says that he was approached by Kumar, an educationist, who wanted to introduce new ideas into the learning space, but in a different way, so as to create a stronger and wider educational spirit in the country.

Kumar had noticed that in his schools and among the young people they work with, that this generation was losing a connection with the printing world and were on their phones most of the time. “Sanjiv felt that they associate reading with textbooks or school curriculum and have negative mutation in books. For them, the fun things are when they go online on their phones playing games, surfing the net, etc. He felt this was a very disturbing thing and wanted to reverse this trend,” says Sen. To bring back a love of books among them, Kumar felt comics was an interesting medium. And so, the idea of a comics magazine came about.

“Sanjiv gave me the liberty to choose my own editorial team, writers, and artists, and create a magazine following his principles but built according to how I want it,” says Sen, who is  also the co-founder of People Tree, a collaborative studio and store for artists, designers and craftspeople.

The team began working on the magazine last November and the first issue was launched last month (April). “We work with broad themes for each issue. Once we determine the theme, we invite writers and artists all over India to contribute. We want to be very representative, with diverse

voices and diverse stories. We encourage submissions from different writers and artists,” says Sen, adding that since he has been working with comics for a long time, he has a good sense about which artist would work and how to pair up one writer with a particular artist.

“The stories are based on historical and real-life incidents. It is all fictionalised

but it is based on things relating to the world around us. Hence, I think young people will find a lot of interesting things to take away from here,” says Sen. And to enable a wider reach for the magazine, the team plans to hold workshops in schools. “We are also waiting to receive feedback from schools and students to know how they liked it and how we can improve,” says Sen.

Key points for contributors

 The comics should be irreverent and not caring of convention or authority.

 They should be fun.

 They should have wit and humour.

 They should tell readers something they do not know.

 They should explore life beyond the monoculture of the Western world.

 They should be inclusive and equitable.

 They should tell the stories of historically marginalised people and groups.

 They should explore the intersections of traditional school subjects.

 They should not be preachy.

 They should seek to inspire and excite rather than convey loads of information.

About Issue 1:

The broad theme of Issue 1 of the magazine is ‘Machines and Masters’, comprising four comic stories and an illustrated poem. ‘The Plague Doctor’s Apprentice’ harks back to 17th-century Italy to comment on the 21st-century pandemic. ‘Love for Dummies’ toys with the notion of what happens when AI-powered dummies have thoughts about art and love. The inhabitants of the ‘City of Astronomers’ ponder the universe. Two hospital implements – one much-lauded and one often overlooked are contrasted with in ‘The Razor and the Scalpel’. And finally, ‘The Captain’ takes readers into the innards of a fishing boat in Kerala and the inner life of its skipper.

Contributors include writers Venita Coelho, Sheela Jaywant, Mohammad Salman, and Indrajit Hazra. The artists who contributed include Rai, Haasini Casukhela, Pia Alize Hazarika, Mad Paule, and artist and writer Anupam Arunachalam.