Indian Institute of Cartoonists

IIC welcomes you to cartoonistsindia, the first of its kind!!!

Indian Institute of Cartoonists is an organization, first of its kind in India, established with the aim of promoting the art of cartooning in the country. The Institute, based in Bangalore, aims to recognize talents in the field of cartooning and reward them, showcase and preserve their art for future generations, guide young and budding cartoonists and above all, popularize the art among the masses.

Perhaps IIC is the only organization in the field of cartooning worldwide having so many activities under one umbrella.

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In the beginning was a line and Shankar took it  and made it a cartoon. The father of cartooning in India was born on July 31, 1902, in Kayamkulam, Kerala. His family intended him to be a lawyer and Shankar dutifully joined the Law College in Bombay in 1927. However, after just a year, he quitted the course and became private Secretary to Narottam Morarjee, the Shipping Magnate.

Drawing caricatures had been a hobby with Shankar in his student days .He now doodled in all his spare time, and soon started sending cartoons regularly to The Bombay

Chronicle, The Free Press Journal and The Weekly Herald .

In 1932, Joseph the editor of The Hindustan Times offered him a job as staff cartoonist of his paper. Shankar jumped at the opportunity. After six years with the paper, he was granted study leave for a year so that he could go to London and study art professionally.

In 1946, he quit The Hindustan Times . Two years later, he started his journal, Shankar's Weekly, India's first and only journal of political cartoons. The weekly became a training ground for many brilliant cartoonists.

Apart from cartooning, Shankar's other abiding love was children. He started the Shankar's International Children's Competition (SSLC), to spot talent. Today, children from 135 countries participate in this annual contest.

A gift of a Hungarian doll to SICC in 1954, gave Shankar a brilliant idea. He decided to collect costume dolls. When his collection grew, he decided to bring his doll exhibition, the annual competitions and exhibitions and the publishing of children's books under one umbrella. The result was the non-profit organization, Children's Book Trust, started in 1957. Shankar's International Dolls Museum today houses 6,500 costume dolls from 85 countries.

In 1968, Shankar started Children's World , an illustrated monthly magazine, unique in that it was by children, for children.

In August 1975, Shankar's Weekly closed down after 27 eventful years. Shankar was showered with awards. Among them were the Padma Sri; Padma Bhushan' Padma Vibhushan; the Order of Smile, an honour from a committee of Polish Children and the Order de Saint Fortunat from Germany for his dedication to children.

Shankar passed away on December 26, 1989, aged 87.

 

B. V. Ramamurthy perpetually bemused Mr . Citizen grappling with the trials and tribulations of life, has greeted Karnataka every morning for over 33 years now. For decades, with his gentle humour, B. V. Ramamurthy, perhaps the progenitor of the pocket cartoon on South India, has been making readers of Decan Herald, Prajavani, Sudha and Mayura chuckle.

His Mr. Citizen had become a habit with Karnataka. In fact, when at one point, Mr. Citizen abandoned his trademark Mysore Peta' (turban) and displayed a bald pate, readers demanded that he don the Peta' again.

Murthy, as he is known to friend (he also jokingly calls himself ‘3 Thi __ a pum of his name in Kannada), had honed his drawing and sketching skills even while in college. He graduated in Science from St. Joseph's College, Bangalore, in 1955. it was Kidi' Sheshappa, a firebrand journilist of the ‘50s, who uncovered Murthy's talent as a cartoonist, in his paper Kidi, literally meaning Spark' . This sparked the growth of a genius. Murthy's talent was further nurtured by the legendary Pothan Joseph, who provided him a stronger spring-board and a large canvas Decan Herald and Prajavani. He encouraged Murthy to draw a pocket cartoon every day. Mr. Citizen soon became the morning Toast of Karnataka's readers. Their spokesman for all things under the sun__ through he never said a word!

Among cartoons that brought Murthy international attention was one titled ‘Grin of the year' caricaturing Jimmy Carter, the former US President.

While he is known mainly for his cartoons, his illustrations are much by connoisseurs, and exhibitions of his watercolours and oil colours are big draws.

 

Probably the only Indian cartoonist who worked with British newspapers for almost 16 years, and certainly the only one in the world who changed his name and signature half way into his career! That was Abu Abraham.

A principled political cartoonist who “walked tall while others crawled”, Abu was born on June 11, 1924, in Mavelikara near the Malabar coast. He was a child prodigy. He began his professional career in 1946 with The Bombay Chronicle as reporter, and also drew cartoons for Blitz as a freelancer.

His big break came when he joined Shankar's Weekly , as staff cartoonist in 1951. In 1953, British cartoonist Fred Joss who had seen his work sent him a brief letter. “When are you coming?” it said. Abu packed his bags and left for Britain. He worked with The Observer for 10 years (1956-66) and then with The Guardian for three years (1966-69).

Till April 1956, Abu was plain ‘Abraham', and signed his name as such. On April 6, 1956, when he drew his first cartoon for the paper, David Astor, the editor, after approving it, asked him if he couldn't use a pseudonym. Abu recalls in his reminiscences: “He explained, saying that any Abraham in Europe would be taken as a Jew and all my cartoons would take on a slant for no reason, and I wasn't even Jewish. What was more, the Middle-East was beginning to boil at that time... I thought up the pseudonym, Abu. ‘Perfect,' Astor said, suitably mysterious. Thus was I re-christened...

In 1969, he returned to India, and joined The Indian Express. From 1972 to 1978, came a stint in the Rajya Sabha. The Emergency brought out the best in him, and he drew scathing cartoons. His work during his period was later published as a book, Games of Emergency . (His other two books are Abu On Bangladesh and Arrivals And Departures. His animated film called No Arks , won a British Film Institute special award in 1970.)

After leaving the Express in 1981, he began to syndicate his work to several newspapers. His philosophical strip, Salt And Pepper , ran for almost 20 years in several publications.

Abu passed away on Dec 1, 2002, after complications following duodenum surgery

 

His two-stroke line drawing of Gandhili is perhaps the best known line drawing of the Mahatma in the world.

Ranga, lesser known by his full Name N. K. Ranganathan, also had another distinction that not many know of: He is in the Limca Book of Records for having the highest collection (of some 2,000 autographed cartoons/sketches) of national and international celebrities. Ranga had the habit of sketching celebrities while interviewing them for AIR . On one such occasion, the late Russian President Nikita Kruschev liked his sketch so much that he asked for a copy. After that, Ranga began drawing two cartoons: One for the celeb and one with his/her autograph for himself. At a photo-op or press briefing, Ranga would calmly draw, unruffled by the jostling of reporters and security men. In fact, he perfected the art of drawing two sketches in the time taken for one, to save time.!

While most leaders gladly autographed his sketches, only two leaders demurred. Former British Prime Minister Margent Thatcher felt he had not done justice to her new coiffure. Ranga immediately re-touched the sketch, and the Iron Lady signed it. In the second case, however, the celeb would not oblige: Prince Charles thought Ranga has done a poor caricature of his, and refused to sign.

On yet another occasion, former Park Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto did sign, but made his displeasure clear: “A bad cartoon. I do not look anything like this,” he scrawled on Ranga's sketch.

Ranga's professional life began in Shankar's Weekly the tutelage of the legendary K. Shankar Pillai. He worked at various times for The Statesman, The Indian Express and The Tribune, besides drawing for various other publications across the country, for nearly four decades.

Ranga died of a massive heart attack on July 28, 2002 in Bangalore.

 

 

In and arena Dominated by men, Maya Kamath was a rarity a women cartoonist !

Born in Bombay in 1951, she spent her formative years in Delhi, and acquired an MA in English literature. Drawing was a hobby with her as a child, and this talent flowered during her stint as an illustrator with Macmillan's and as a drawing teacher at Sophia's School. The turning point came when she set her eyes on the sketches of a book titled For better or for Worse by Lin Johnston. Wonderstruck, she plunged into the world of cartooning.

Her career as a cartoonist began in 1985 with a cartoon strip about family life called Gita', in The Evening Herald' a fledgling publications of the Deccan Herald Group. In 1986, she began drawing pocket cartoons for the Bangalore edition of The Indian Express . Then came a daily current affairs cartoon for the Bangalore Times of India, titled, ‘The World of Maya', after this, she contributed current affairs cartoons to several publications including The independent, The Free Press Journal, Mid-Day and Newsday. Her cartoons on environmental issue appeared in the German anthology Third World.

In 1997, when The Asian Age was launched in Bangalore Maya found it a fertile field for political satire. In October 1998, the Karnataka Cartoonists' Association conferred an award on her on the occasion of the 7th Cartoonists' Conference.

She finally lost her battle with cancer and the world of cartooning lost one of its brightest gems.

 

Indian Institute of Cartoonists conducts Maya Kamath Memorial awards for Political Cartoons every year in her fond memory.

 

All this requires enormous funds, perseverance and above all the goodwill and co-operation of the masses. It is no mean task to garner resources, in the form of people and money, to work towards this goal. We request Philanthropists, Corporate, Bankers, Industrialists, Businessman and Media Magnates to open their hearts and purses to further this cause. Spread the word around, the noble cause would surely do with large dose of media publicity. Be a part of movement. Any donation, sponsorship or membership in whatever measure is outmost welcome. We assure you that it is no mere charity; it is an involvement and investment that will stand in good stead for our children, their future and their freedom of expression. It is small tribute to the people who with their pen pepper the paper daily in an indomitable spirit of humour. A tribute to the people who put thought into our minds even as they put a smile onto our faces.

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