The Cartoonist’s Way of Life

Combining humor, knowledge and art, cartoonists have a way of commenting in life that is quite different from other forms of creative expressions. Guru Prasad is the editorial cartoonist for the leading Tamil newspaper, Dinamalar. He has drawn several thousand cartoons over the years and has illustrated several books. Guru Prasad was born to Gurunathan and Kamala. He claims his nativity to be from Tirupur and Tirunelveli. The cartoonist has completed his B.Sc. Maths from Voorhees (Vellore) and MBA was from VIT in Vellore.

The cartoonist did not plan to become one. In fact, he does not remember when this thought came to his mind. He stated that it was like falling in love for it was unplanned and unexpected. As in the case of any love marriage in India, the parents had objected initially but supported later. Guru Prasad remembers his first illustration. It was done when he was about 4 years old. It was the illustration of a Brahmin priest riding a cycle with his Kudumi (Tuft) and Angavastram (Shawl hung on shoulder) flying. It had been more of a scribble says he, but it had won a lot of appreciations.

Guru Prasad added further by stating that his work kept improving and continues to improve. He stated that one needs general knowledge, drawing skills and a sense of humor as ingredients. Guru Prasad humorously stated that general knowledge takes one person to Civil Service, drawing skills make a person into an artist, while a person with a sense of humor can end up being a comedian. However, it goes without saying that you need a right mix of all the above skills to become a cartoonist.

The cartoonist was quite humble while talking about his entry into Dinamalar in the year 2002. He chuckled while talking about it, “I applied for the opening, presented my work and they just appointed me within a week. It was kind of a cake walk. On being queried if being a cartoonist was difficult, Guru Prasad stated that if the dreams of the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution had been fulfilled, the cartoonist would be an extinct species. He added humorously that both the rulers and the ruled had unintentionally championed the cause of the cartoonist and this ceaselessly provided material to churn out cartoons. Therefore, even a cartoonist with a limited talent has wider scopes to flourish,” stated Guru Prasad.

“Cartoonists should reflect the community and that is the purpose of editorial cartoons. While the ideas are mine, it is up to the editor to publish my work or not. Of course, one is criticized and it is part and parcel of life. You will have to get used to it by getting thick-skinned at times,” added the purposeful cartoonist. Guru Prasad reads, listens, observes, while also collecting information by the hour. This helps him to work on the cartoon. The cartoon takes about 45 minutes to accomplish and he just calls it a ‘Craft’. Of course, technology is applied for he uses a digital drawing tablet and a stylus pen.

He simply loves being a cartoonist for he feels that it gives him the license to criticize and ridicule. Every moment that he sits in front of the drawing board happens to be his greatest. His long-term goal is to DIE EMPTY - wants to give back all his positive learning & knowledge back to the society. Guru Prasad believes that comic books are for people of all ages. If somebody wants to be young at heart the only way to do so would be by reliving one’s childhood by reading comics. He often wishes that it would be nice for him to go back to his childhood.

The cartoonist vaguely remembered one of his early editorial cartoons which was criticizing a politician. His greatest motivators in the profession included Mario Miranda, Martin Rowson, Ann Telnaes, Oliphant, Herblock, Sergio Aragonés, and R. K. Laxman. While, the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, Picasso, and Jamini Roy also inspired him. The frank and upright cartoonist has a tangible ambition. He wants to illustrate the complete ‘Srimad Bhagavatam’. “I’m really keen to do the Bhagavatam Project and am ready to spend time on it. It may take a couple of years and I wish to use my time fruitfully by completing my dream project,” smiled Guru Prasad.

All the best, sir!