With his fourth book – Green Humor for A Graying Planet – Rohan Chakravarty, who comes from Nagpur, addresses the issues of nature conservation and ecology, one cartoon after another. The creator of Green Humor, a cartoon strip about wildlife and ecology, speaks to The Indian Express about his work, influences, and the need to be concerned with the environment. Edited excerpts:
How and when did you develop your interest in biodiversity and wildlife?
I’ve always been interested in wildlife. When I was around 20 it was put into practice. At that time (2005) I started volunteering with Kids for Tigers (an awareness program started by conservationist Bittu Sahgal). My job was to lead school children on bird watching trails and nature walks. So I started to train myself and watch out for wildlife. My grandfather came from a family of hunters. When I was 3 or 4 he introduced me to many wildlife encyclopedias. He was a nature lover himself. So I and my brother, now a biologist, became interested in the field.
What made you want to become a wildlife cartoonist?
When I started training myself to develop a keen eye for wildlife and research, I found that a lot of communication on conservation and environmental issues was not engaging, but rather full of scientific technical terms. I’ve always been interested in cartoons, although I never considered it as a career option. But I always drew cartoons for fun. I was trained as a dentist, but I didn’t like my studies that much. I made an animation career for four years before becoming a cartoonist.
How did Green Humor – a website with cartoons, comics and illustrations – come about?
When I started volunteering, I started experimenting with communicating about wildlife issues through cartoons. For the first five years, I shared it with my friends and posted it on social media. It was just to see if I could merge these two themes (wildlife and cartoons) and the result. This is how the idea of ââgreen humor came about and in 2010 the website was born. In 2011-12 I started publishing my cartoons in magazines.
In 2013, Go Comics (an online catalog of syndicated strips like Calvin and Hobbes) started my syndication work. It made a lot of news back then as it was the first comic book series from India to gain international recognition. After that, further newspaper columns began.
What are the issues that plague the environmental debate?
The current government is not inclined to understand all communications about the environment. You are persistent and you don’t want to get involved in science. All guidelines come with preconceived notions. A great way to address the lack of communication between the scientific community and government is to work with other parties. Although India has a very intrinsic relationship with nature, urban audiences do not feel it as we move away from nature because of our lifestyle. I would also like to address that with my work.
What is your favorite being to draw?
That answer changes every day, currently it’s Dhole – the Asian wild dog.