KOCHI: No one is ever too old for comics. For Kochi-based comic illustrator Sanid Asif Ali, comic strips are a way to reflect harmless satire — the hypocrisy and irony around him — that leave people thinking deeply.
Sanid, an IT employee, was intrigued by comic books since he was a kid and used to bring out handmade magazines. Though he used to post single relatable comics before, Sanid’s works began to grab the spotlight in 2019. His first full-length comic, Gustoso!, was published at the Indie Comics Fest, and it was later released as a webcomic by Tinkle.
Sanid has always wanted to be known as a storyteller and his illustrations voices matters that pique one’s interest. “I get mixed reactions from my readers. The comics are perceived differently by different people,” says Sanid.
Graphic stories that narrate historical events or appreciate healthcare workers featuring them as superheroes, quote art — all of these form Sanid’s art. ‘Once upon a time in Utopia,’ throws light on many political aspects and talks about ideals, ethos, and personal values we have as people. “My primary focus is to release a storybook collection of positive comics. Sometimes you are forced to ask questions, or at least counterbalance the statements made in a political context. In a way, the utopia series is an exercise of my thoughts, dialogues, and those incidents that influence me,” he says.
Most stories in Sanid’s comics happen in a fictional land ruled by a king. A lady activist who often pops up in many of them addresses communalism, equality, and even holds the king accountable indirectly for his action. “It is a sarcastic title. A dictator always promises utopia. Here, the activist is a beam of hope amid unkept promises,” adds Sanid.
Apart from relatable socio-political topics, Sanid also does interactive comics named ‘escape mouse’ where the storyline comes from readers. The mini-comic ‘Krishnavanam’ portrays the efforts of the activist Sugathakumari’s in reviving the tribal ecosystem. “I made a 20-bit comic narrating the efforts of teachers. Fortunately I could show the print version of it to my teacher herself,” adds Sanid. Another comic ‘Hope on,’ that he made along with artist Nithin Mathew was released last year. It sourced women-oriented subjects from around 10 women narrators and highlights, hope and harmony.