A comic can convey a perspective or emotion faster and, often better, than a written word can. Instagram has its fair share of content creators whose illustrations serve as evidence. These comics range from events from daily life, current affairs, politics to critique of society, and help jump-start our brains and get us thinking from different perspectives. So we thought we’d pay a tribute to our favourite Malayali illustrators on Instagram whose works embody “a picture speaks a thousand words”.
Bhaghya Babu (@awkwerrrrrd)
Bhaghya Babu is an illustrator and comic artist based in Kochi. Her comics are tanked up with Malayalam movie references, puns and her experience within the Malayali household. From personal experiences with her clientele to comics that make you go “omg me too!”, she is your savage next-door neighbour. We wish for COVID-19 to end soon just to catch her at our nearest Comic-Con!
Akshara Ashok (@happyfluffcomics)
Akshara Ashok’s comics are extremely relatable. The common themes in her comics include binge eating the sadness, getting ignored by your crush, choosing sleep over work, overthinking, etc. What distinguishes her work from the others is Akshara’s forward approach to usually taboo topics like nudity. Most of her comics have naked butt and bodies. She herself has clarified the need for normalising bodies through their representation in the form of ‘cute lil blobs’
Sabari Venu (@meancurry)
Sabari Venu sways his audience off their senses (literally) using multilingual puns, easy to understand characters and short comics. His work brings in both Malayali and non-Malayali crowds flocking to his page. Appreciated by Shashi Tharoor and various features in the newspapers, he is best known for attempting to revisualise Mahabali. His comics are sure to bring a smile to your face even on the darkest of days.
Vishnu Madhav (@pencilashan)
Vishnu Madhav (aka Pencilashan) is an illustrator, cartoonist, storyteller and caricaturist. His reimagination of our favourite scenes from Malayalam movies has been appreciated by various actors. A football enthusiast, his comics weave Malayalis and football with the same thread. He is also well known for extending his caricature services to raise money for the surgery of baby Mohammad. He did this by encouraging his followers to contribute money in exchange for a free caricature. Lockdown also introduced us to his comic strip episodes, called Parvathakathakal. Their highlights are uncomplicated characters with little to no dialogues.
Arosh Thevadathil (@doodle.muni)
Arosh Thevadathil is famous for his heart-warming comics ‘Janaki Chronicles’ that is based on his daughter Janaki. From her first word to her first haircut, his comics are a delight to new parents. His latest set of comics are about the commonly seen objects in Kerala and how they are his daughter’s anti-heroes. Bagging the first, second and third prizes on the list are – kitty cat, coconut uncle and kumbidi swami. The use of aesthetic colours and vivid imagery and cute characters with huge puppy eyes are sure to make you fall in love with children and Arosh’s creative way of expressing them. He is also the co-founder of the Funcher Shop.
Vimal Chandran (@vimalchandran)
Combining elements of photography and art, Vimal Chandran is a recognised artist and the director/founder of Ordinary Secret Films, an advertising production house and creative collective. His artwork is commonly based on the sights he sees around him that are then visualized into ordinary paintings with extraordinary elements. Minimalistic and aesthetic in nature, these visual arts will have you staring at them because they invoke feelings of nostalgia and awe. His series, in collaboration with Lamborghini, was much appreciated. A marvellous photographer capturing the intricate details of nature, his Instagram feed is a visual treat to the eyes.
Roshan Kurichiyanil (@artofroshan)
Straight outta Vadakara, Roshan Kurichiyanil is the cool comic artist and multidisciplinary storyteller whose posts make you go “wow!”. His blend of sci-fi, magic and fantasy illustration with cute cartoony details, attracts eyes from all over the globe. Co-founder of Lilorosh, a company dedicated to making fun and fashionable bags, his art skills are projected with symmetrical designs or contrasted with freehand ones. Most of his posts also come with various different colouring processes and palettes that widen our perspective.
Before you leave, you should know that many Malayali illustrators are not able to take up illustration full time and have to take up a regular job to pay their bills. You can help them keep putting out their artwork and support them by signing up to be their patron, and buying their art Check out their profiles for more information and don’t forget to share their comics! It’s the best form of appreciation.
That was the list of our favourite Malayali illustrators. Are there other Malayali illustrators you’d like to recommend? Tell us in the comments!