Ananth Maruthi is the creator of the series KaKaa-The Shaman Trials, a completely original and the first Indian manga. For starters, he feels it pertinent to explain the term too.
a style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels, typically aimed at adults as well as children.
And here goes his story of mechanics to manga…
Who are you?
Gowra Hari is an artist by profession. He completed his Masters from Hyderabad central university. And yes, the fascinating part is that he is a recipient of the highest award given by the President of India to child prodigies, the “BAL SHREE” from former president Mr. Abdul Kalam.
GradStory found out that Bal Shree Award is conferred upon children between the ages of 9-16 who express their creativity in ideas that can revolutionize the world. Precisely, when the “child is truly creative, innovative and imbibed with originality.” (GradStory thinks, Overwhelming, isn’t it?)
Together we form TEAM CHITRAGRANDA (C).
What is KAKAA THE SHAMAN TRIALS?
KaKaa TST by genre is a traditional manga and can further be classified into fantasy/horror/comic/action/supernatural/detective.
What is the story about?
“History is written by victors”- Winston S. Churchill
But what if the victors do not want to? What holds them back?
The great native Indian tribe of Americana was thriving and flourishing before the white man set his foot on the land. There were tribes, nations and empires of native tribes. Great cities of Mayan and Aztec were the proof of that. But at one point of history everything changed.
Suddenly cities fell and nations dissolved- they were reduced to mere villages and towns. They had their final blow when white man used gunpowder and backstabbing tactics.
There was a void in the native songs as to what happened to the once great warriors and nations. A void purposefully not filled in. Victors of the Great Spirit wars intentionally excluded that part from history to hide an evil force so great that even after it was defeated it was feared enough not be mentioned in their war songs.
Winters passed by and decades passed and by now that is all a forgotten past…. white man came and the age of Wild West began. Gun slinging cowboys are on a rage and are conquering the wild undomesticated lands of Americana from the now weakened native tribes.
But in the midst of all this the newly formed frontier towns were being attacked. Not one not a dozen the whole town is being killed in a matter of minutes. The white man at last was being humbled by a force not even the mighty gunpowder can domesticate. With tails between their legs they sought help from the native tribes to join forces to defeat this new enemy.
All but one shaman comes forward to help but of course with a hefty price tag.
Will the shaman succeed? Who is killing? After ages why did the spirits come back?
Why is KaKaa TST different?
For starters we have done a ton of research (we have 1.5 TB to back us up). Entire manga was done by hand and no computer editing is done. The dialogue bubbles and dialogues were hand drawn. We had done an in depth research into the native culture. Every name in this book is from Sioux Indians, crow tribes, Apache and Cherokee. The village setting and costumes too were authentic native designs.
Your Origins & Inspiration.
Unlike most of the people who say their first encounter with anime/manga is dragon balls, ours was “NINJA ROBOTS” or “Ninja Senshi Tobikage” aired on cartoon network in the mid 90’s.
It was somehow different from its western counterparts. It was flashy and also the story is mature than the episodic repetition of action cartoons. Then later on it was the same feeling of awe when dragon balls was aired on the same network.
Some years later a hostel mate shared his stash of anime with me and it was Naruto. Within a month I finished all he has and was wanting more of this stuff and that is when I stumbled upon manga. And thus I got hooked to manga. The same reaction was given by Gowra too.
We saw a possibility and pursued it. Gowra the illustrator practiced manga art form for a year to perfect it and I researched for story material and much more.
After a year and half of rigorous workout we started by experimenting with few pages of fight scenes which we posted online for viewers feedback. And as luck would have it one of the viewers happened to be a publisher and we got our first break.
The Rocks and Boulders you bumped into.
The greatest obstacle we confronted while researching manga art is that we don’t have any literature to follow. Nor did we have any art material that is used for manga. For literature we adopted the policy “monkey see monkey do” and did a case study of famous mangas like Onepiece, Fairy Tail, Naruto, Gintama, Attack Of Titans, Fist Of North Star, Usio No Tora, Sket Dance, Hunterxhunter and Bleach. As for the material thanks to a friend of our mom who lives abroad. She generously sent most of the material as gift of encouragement (yes we are blessed with good people).
Your Journey in a Nutshell.
Once we got the confirmation from the publisher about the story script and artworks, we were given a 45 day time to complete the project (Which is like asking a person to eat a Mc Donald happy meal in 30 secs!!) But not wanting to lose the opportunity we burnt the midnight oil for the whole period. It felt like infinite loop of eat draw research. At the end of 40 days we were able to complete the manga. Gowra’s wrists were swollen and I was deprived of sleep but it was worth it as the manga was going to be released in Bangalore comic con.
Bangalore Comic Con 2014. What was special?
The experience that we had at comic con was surreal, we met many like-minded people. People who appreciated our manga and people who thought we are pretentious. Though the latter did not hold us back on enjoying the con experience.
The most queries we were asked were, “What is manga?”, “Why is it back to front?” and “It should have been in colour!!!” Though at first we were bit disappointed about manga illiteracy, it was immediately overshadowed by manga and anime fans response to the first Indian manga. They were supportive and ecstatic about the manga by Indian mangakas.
The cherry on top was an elderly man who just bought the book because he wanted to support people like us who are on an off-beat path and trying to survive outside a world of corporates. He took two books without asking for any discount!!!
Can you see the future?
With time we hope to see a major growth in manga fans and also other home bred mangakas too. We got few more opportunities from other publishers who saw a potential in us. We hope this can be a potential livelihood for both us (when we enjoy the work we are doing then it is not work at all right?). And KaKaa the volume 2 is being released at the end of 2015. We are currently also working on Jataka manga on metadesi.
At GradStory, we too love stories of people charting the off-beat. And this mangaka duo is spinning spirit stories of courage and valour that grips imagination, if you let your inner instincts free. Let’s watch out for the series. And follow them on facebook/Ka-Kaa: The Shaman Trials.