It was 1994. Tinkle faced its biggest challenge. A fire broke out in the Eruchshaw building at Fort,which housed the Tinkle offices. Savio Mascarenhas,who worked with the childrens magazine for over two decades recalls,During those days,all the sketching,colouring and writing was done on paper. The fire had consumed all our work for the coming issue. Our entire team,headed by Uncle Pai had to start from scratch. But the art and edit team still pulled off the issue in time.
Even as Tinkle celebrates its 33rd anniversary this month that effort has been made redundant thanks to how technology has evolved. Since 1999,there has been a gradual digitisation of artworks. Unless I feel a strong urge to put pen to paper,all the work is done on computers, says Mascarenhas,art director at Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) Media,the company which publishes Tinkle.
His career mirrors the growth story of the publication as well. Sketching and colouring was only a hobby for this advertising and public relations graduate who started out as a copywriter and freelanced with Tinkle in the early 90s. I had read the magazine through my childhood and I particularly loved the hat-hidden eyes and the thin moustache avatar of Shikhari Shambhu,created by famous artist Vasant Halbe. After freelancing for a while,Uncle Pai asked me if I wanted to work with ACK full-time, says Mascarenhas,who extensively works on the Shikhari Shambhu comic,and has also co-created Janoo and Wooly Woo (the adventures of a smart girl who teams up with a timid dragon),and Mopes and Purr (a cat and dog detective duo who solve crimes against animals).
Noting the changes that he has seen over the years, Tinkle was first published on November 14,1980 the 44-year-old says that todays comics are constantly contemporised and have managed to hold their own against stiff competition from their foreign counterparts. Children today have a lot more exposure so contemporising comics is the need of the hour. Take for instance our character Billy,a vampire who was created last year in response to the growing appeal of vampires in pop-culture, says Mascarenhas,who now has the opportunity to meet many more of his readers through comic conventions.
The trick to Tinkles longevity,says Mascarenhas,is in the fact that the comics are all steeped in Indian culture. This helps us stand out from others where violence is often propagated. Comics should be ideally about fun and learning, he says.