Krish Raghav wears many hats successfully. A 28-year-old journalist, he also happens to be a public policy expert who draws well-received comics and organises music festivals.
The native of Delhi moved to Beijing for a year in 2012 and started a graphic novel on a blog to document his time there. He called it Beijing Brown. As time passed, Beijing Brown became a catch-all for the many comics or cartoons he drew, even after he returned to Beijing in 2015 to work for a music company.
Scroll.in spoke to the first recipient of a $250 Dash grant from Short Run, an annual comics and arts festival in the US, about his new comic blog post on the loss of his father in October 2015. The panel is inspired by US cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home about the death of her dad.
The idea behind this particular comic strip comes from the loss of your father. Why did you choose this form to express your grief?
My comics have always been autobiographical, but usually with a distance that made me as abstract and generalised a character as possible. I knew I wanted to draw a comic about my father, but I also knew it would involve putting myself a little bit more in the panels.
It wasn’t so much about "grief" for me. It was more about understanding an emotional disquiet that I felt in the wake of his death. I wanted to analyse it, sharpen the way I described it, and through that, hopefully, find some meaning. I also wanted to complicate some of the standard narratives we tend to tell about our parents.
How did the latest post from Beijing Brown come into being?
That took a while. I’d initially planned to finish this for his birthday (in February), but I guess you can’t schedule emotional processing.
I had the first three pages done by January, but I didn’t know how to link the rest of it together. I almost gave up on it many, many times... but the different fragments – the Nagpur train vignette, scenes from the funeral, the part about straining towards the future – kept coming back to me, forcing me to try again.
In the end, I just gave myself a deadline (April 23, 9 pm), which I missed by 80 minutes.
What is the history of Beijing Brown?
The Beijing Brown blog was started in 2012, when I moved to Beijing to study. Back then, I drew ponderously bad comics about local bars and live music venues. I kept the name even after I left Beijing in 2013.
Nearly two years of comics followed that were distinctly not about the city, to the point where the name became a bit embarrassing.
Thankfully, I moved back to Beijing in 2015, and some semblance of sense has been restored.
What is Interesting Times?
So, Interesting Times is three things (I do): a newsletter, a podcast, and mixtapes. The newsletter and mixtapes are going strong. The podcast, sadly, has become very difficult to update for a few reasons.
What is it like working in China, where internet censorship is quite extreme?
Soundcloud, which I use for my podcast, and just about every hosting service, is blocked in China – forcing me to use VPNs, which are creakily slow and unreliable. Keeping a schedule under such constraints is hard.
What’s next in the pipeline?
I finished my last significant project, a Mexico City travelogue called Estilo Hindu in September 2015. I’m currently working on a few shorter comics and scouting around for the next big project.
Here’s the latest offering of Beijing Brown with a word from the creator:
“Most of you know that my father passed away late last year. Loss is always unexpected, but his death hit me particularly hard in a way that I couldn’t explain. It’s taken me six months to put these thoughts together. My comics have always personal, but drawing this was intense in a way none of my work has ever been. I hope you find some resonance in it.”
All images courtesy Krish Raghav.
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