Watcher

Words & Letters: Aditya Bidikar (adapted from ‘Watcher’)
Artwork: Nitin Veturkar

First published in Kindle Magazine, August edition.




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33 Comments

  1. Rashmi
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Aditya Bidikar

    I don’t usually write to people who make / write comic strips but this one offended me a little . I would like to ask you something .My question is that – is this even a comic strip? I mean it wasn’t funny .
    Do people actually go , sit and wait for accidents to happen? A woman is bloody losing her life ! I don’t think seeing her skull crack open would be some sort of a sight even for an adult [ a kid would be absolutely horrified ] . You will witness a sight that you will probably never forget! Seeing someone loose their life right in front of your eyes and you not being able to do anything about it[helplessness] is the worst thing that can happen to an individual .
    Its just that I feel , this is very immature and I am sure you could do a lot better!
    I hope you have a better explanation for this [ in case that I might not have gotten in right , which I am sure didn’t happen ] .

  2. Angad Chowdhry
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Dear Rashmi,
    Assumption #1 = comic strips are supposed to be funny. Not true. No medium promises the audience laughs, not even stand-up comedy.
    Assumption #2 = do people really “sit around … etc.”. this is fiction, and makes no claims toward representing sociological reality
    Assumption #3 = witnessing a sight like the one depicted above is unforgettable. Indeed, so is good literature.
    Assumption #4 = helplessness is not the worst thing that can happen to an individual. don’t be selfish. i’m sure the person dying feels a lot worse.
    Assumption #5 = sometimes “immature” is better. Do not correlate quality with an abstract, and culturally contingent, notion of mental evolution
    Assumption #6 = You were wrong. You did get it wrong. You were wrong about possibly not being wrong as well.

    • Rashmi
      Posted January 10, 2011 at 3:02 am | Permalink | Reply

      Angad
      Your comment ACTUALLY made me grin!
      I was asking the comic strip maker and since you are all defensive and explanatory … ummm anyway guess its okay!
      everyone has a right to put forward their opinion . I can say the same thing as you – NO I AM NOT WRONG . I DIDN’T GET IT WRONG . AND I WASN’T WRONG ABOUT BEING WRONG . 🙂
      If you think something is worse than helplessness then THAT’S you . For every individual good and bad are different . Something is “the worse thing that can happen” for me that doesn’t necessarily apply to every person on this planet .
      I am sure the maker of the strip is glad that you like his work . 🙂

  3. Pro_B
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Dear Angad,
    While i concur that rashmi’s condemnation of adityab’s heightened imagination in a manner such that it almost brands him an actual perpetrator of the gory act unabashedly endorsed (understand, the protagonist is not just getting vicarious thrills and ya ya’s from a human fatality, he’s actively CONTRIBUTING to facilitate the same- the nails on the road)in the strip is more emotional than objective, i do have a point to make. As a writer he has every right to take creative fictional license and should not be lynched for that. However, when one comes across a comic strip or even an article/ story online one normally expects to be either entertained, moved or captivated by it. One reads horror stories and even within those the author integrates instances of basic humanity. (I think Stephen King is god, b4 u judge btw). If someone wants to illustrate what i can only describe as the masturbatory fantasies of a very dangerous sociopath- by no means am i attributing the same to the author himself, unlike rashmi i’m more than willing to give him the benefit of doubt- i think it is not just judicious but also mandatory that he/ should tag it in a manner similar to ‘NSFW’ warnings so that there are no rude surprises for an unsuspecting reader and he/she only attracts an audience that appreciates his dubious sensibility.

  4. Posted January 9, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hi Rashmi,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, and thanks for putting down your opinion clearly rather than decrying me for being the scum of the earth. I’m not sure I’m saying anything that Angad hasn’t already said above, but I’d like to respond anyway.

    Firstly, comics is a medium, not a genre. A comic doesn’t necessarily need to be funny (although I do think this one is darkly funny in places). To put it briefly. I’m doing comics = Batman rather than comics = Garfield.

    In this comic, I was writing about a (fictitious) person who I thought was interesting enough to build a story around. It represents that particular person – not humanity as a whole (the bit where he says everybody’s like him – that’s him saying it, not me). The narrative is his, not mine. But even if it was, it would be one person’s opinion, which you might or might not agree with.

    This story was, in fact, inspired by real life. I have heard accounts of accident victims not being provided help because people were too busy staring at the spectacle. Whether they were being apathetic or simply shocked is up to your discretion. The accident at the beginning of the story is something that happened. I was a kid, and all I could think of was to go and see it (I didn’t get to). Kids can be very cruel. I grew out of it. The impetus of this story was, what if I hadn’t. So I used my imagination to create this character who thinks differently.

    And frankly, I am pleased that somebody was offended. Because people such as the narrator (and much worse than him) do exist, and if I managed to prod someone out of a warm stupor by showing them an angle on reality that they hadn’t known/thought about, well, I’m not sorry about it. I don’t mind offending people. Enough people offend me everyday.

    • Rashmi
      Posted January 10, 2011 at 2:50 am | Permalink | Reply

      I see what you are trying to convey NOW .
      I guess it was more lively and less fictitious than others that I may have read in the past – the likes of Dilbert , Archie’s …
      Its more of a story than it is a “comic” strip. I guess humor is VERY subjective too.
      It also depends on the person’s perception of things and mental makeup at the time of reading!
      If you are already in a horrible mood –> everything you see / read annoys you!
      @ Pro_B – everyone has a right to put forward their opinions – whether its criticism or adoration for what a writer writes .
      Aditya – I didn’t intend to be harsh . I think it came out a little wrong .

      When you see people dying almost everyday and what you are trying to do is save them and when you witness death , your perception to such things tends to change . I come from a family of a long line of doctors also I am a final year med student .
      Everyday that we go to the hospital we see many patients die due to accidents is casualty and its not a funny site, believe me . I guess ,the strip may have reminded me of some rather nasty things that I may have witnessed in the wards.
      Besides I met with an accident while I was still in high school , thankfully my skull did not crack open though I required a few stitches on the head .

      Aditya , I would like to read more stuff that you write / compose / create .

      Best
      Rashmi

      • Angad Chowdhry
        Posted January 10, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I guess our professional inclinations are quite different.

        you are still saving lives, my job has been – for a large part of my adult life – the analysis of violence and violent crime, and 700 crime scenes later, i feel that my sense of humor is earned.

        unlike doctors, i find that people in my world far more hungry for the narratives of deviance and are always surprised when someone understands the complex worlds we inhabit.

        • Rashmi
          Posted January 10, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

          See that explains your response too. Its not how things “are” but how someone perceives them !
          You have been subjected to a different atmosphere around you , the writer of the strip something else and well anyone who puts forward their opinion has a different point of view.
          You should never force your judgment on someone because you can never change the way an adult person [ who has a sane mind and the ability to differentiate between right and wrong ] thinks .
          Do you work in the police department ?

          • Angad Chowdhry
            Posted January 10, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

            where i work or what i do is something very few people know. Aditya is one of them.

  5. Posted January 9, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    @Pro_B:

    I see your point, but I disagree.

    I believe this story might be disturbing, but it also captivating. It’s a short story – which I don’t think needs to have a sympathetic protagonist, merely an interesting one.

    Re: NSFW tags etc. I don’t think subject matter should be a criterion for a content warning. Nudity/graphic violence, sure. Possibly language. Not the topic. Personally, I think this story is appropriate for ages 12-13 and up. My editor on the magazine agreed. The magazine goes to school libraries as well. He didn’t ask us to tone the story down (writing-wise or artwork-wise).

  6. Posted January 9, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    That was pretty fucking funny dude 🙂

    “The whole world is a fucking accident waiting to happen” old quote.

    Keep creating!

    N

  7. Pro_B
    Posted January 10, 2011 at 12:05 am | Permalink | Reply

    To reiterate, aditya, i loved your strip. I have read and even WRITTEN stuff far more, shall we say, malignant than your’s. You wanted to express the inner sadist in you, so be it :P. Both SK and Dean koontz applaud you. My problem was with angadc’s scathing disapproval of rashmi’s sentiments (in fact, i thought YOUR response to her was a FAR more measured one). Anyway, i think you realize that your work can get risque at times and therefore is open to criticism, criticism that THEN shouldn’t be openly attacked. Nien?

  8. Phal
    Posted January 10, 2011 at 12:55 am | Permalink | Reply

    Dude. Loved it. Won’t go bash the stands taken, however enough of us are morbid enough. My mum’s uncle used to work in the railways, as a guard. Used to take great pleasure in relaying accident tales. He’s even said a number of times how he’d like to take us along. No one seemed to mind 😀

    But no, he didn’t take us along ever. He just got cancer in the mouth and had his cheek removed. Or something.

    • Posted January 10, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Phal. I think, being surrounded by generally morbid, blackly humorous people, I had forgotten that some might be shocked by a story like this. It was a useful reminder.

  9. Angad Chowdhry
    Posted January 10, 2011 at 1:15 am | Permalink | Reply

    Dear Pro_B,

    Please do not make value judgments against “the masturbatory fantasies of a very dangerous sociopath”

    The W in NSFW stands for “Work”, not “wimps”, “whiners”, “wholesome, beautiful, uncorrupted souls”, “whoopsies”

    50 words into the strip, the protagonist says “I am always the first to reach when I hear one has happened”, so audiences without “dubious sensibilities” can pretty much stop reading in under 30 seconds

    The rest of your first comment was incomprehensible to me, and I am – as you so kindly gave the author of this strip – giving you the “benefit of the doubt” that there was some sense within it.

    On your second comment,

    There is a difference between “sentiments”, “critiques” and “disapproval”. In order to illustrate using example, as it seems to work best here:

    >Rashmi – “disapproval”
    >ProB – “sentiment”
    >Nothingman – “sentiment”

    I will not end this comment with the customary smiley face, as I believe that creation and critique are serious work and not a parlor game of hugs and giggles taking place on a boat over a sea of resentment.

  10. Pro_B
    Posted January 10, 2011 at 3:51 am | Permalink | Reply

    Dear Angad,
    Firstly, Wow!, I’m not sure how i degenerated into the villain of the piece, i didn’t think there was any… @Rashmi I was kinda trying to defend YOUR point, my mistake if i did so inadequetely.
    Getting back to Angad, your entire reply is completely devoid of objectivity and is infused with the same degree of misplaced zeal that, in fact, first got my attention (and my ire) when you directed it at rashmi. The writer of this piece, aditya, seems far more relaxed and receptive to adverse comments and positive criticism than you for some reason seem to be. I wasn’t making ‘judgements’ about the fantasies of a sociopath- i was merely ‘classifying’ the ethos of this particular strip and questioning its placement in a relevant forum, or the lack of it thereof. It isn’t about ‘ stopping to read’ in 30 seconds, it’s about whether someone browsing an otherwise ‘neutral’ site should be imposed with that choice at all. And, yet again, let me make it clear that i wasn’t speaking for myself, i LOVE GORE. And if you SERIOUSLY didn’t understand the gist of my earlier comments, then, yes, i agree, smiley faces would certainly not be appropriate for you and that sea of resentment you speak of may well be tiding over. My best wishes.

    • Rashmi
      Posted January 10, 2011 at 4:46 am | Permalink | Reply

      I think I might have typed Prob_B instead of Angand ! I can’t be sure of what I was thinking then!
      Maybe I was still half asleep! Thanks anyway 🙂

  11. Angad Chowdhry
    Posted January 10, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink | Reply

    i fucking hate the internet

    • Rashmi
      Posted January 10, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink | Reply

      Nobody is picking on you Angad!

      • Angad Chowdhry
        Posted January 10, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

        i know, but i hate the internet because every time i pick on someone they always have a response. im a terrible bully.

  12. ladydeathkitty
    Posted January 10, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Dear All,

    Firstly Aditya, hugs to you for being so involved and innovative in the comic writing medium. I was definitely grossed out and was given this to read first thing in the morning. It’s funny about the tea. There was this comic I wrote a while ago for HT where we cheerfully walk through the murder of a tiny girl while her ghost skips about happily. It concluded with something like “and that was the day I learned to sip my tea…slowly…” I wonder if there’s something about tea and the macabre…slowly savoring it or maybe it there’s something about the repetition of drinking tea in this highly civilized manner while most uncivilized things are going on.

    I’m pleased that such a rancorous debate emerged around your piece, which is often a strong indication that you are doing something right as an artist.

    Rashmi- your critique was your gut reaction and it is always important to be honest and not smug about what a piece evokes for you. It is good to ask the artist what he meant so you can process the art form in a way that makes it more meaningful and layered to you.

    Angad- I think that you were just being protective of little bro here…you don’t take criticism well when its directed to people whose work you really like. In this case I think its important to understand where the critiques are coming from. In this case I think Aditya has to both write and introduce the genre because this is a relatively new way of doing things in India. If Aditya were concerned about how it might be recieved/misinterpreted he could write a sort of introduction to his pieces giving one a sort of contextual lens. I think this is something along the lines of what Pro_B was suggesting.

    However, I doubt that is something Aditya would like to do, because as an artist, the fun is communicating your work through the medium, and not through tag lines that say “I meant this when I did this and that when I did that.” We do not want to sanitize art. It is not the objective of art to elicit nods of approval or even necessarily a clear comprehension of the subject matter. It is the role of art to elicit strong reactions. period.

    well done baba. looking forward to more.

    and now for my morning tea… (yes I know its noon.)

    peace and new adventures to you all.

    • Posted January 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

      If I have any religion whatsoever, it would probably be ‘tea’. 🙂

      There will be more comics. We have a catalogue of around 6-7, which I’ll be posting bi-weekly. After that, I’ll be updating monthly, as long as the Kindle gig continues. So I hope there will be many more comics.

  13. Pro_B
    Posted January 10, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    @ ladydeathkitty I salute you, ma’am. Very aptly and succintly put.

  14. Posted January 10, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Brilliantly written. Sufficient amount of creepiness.
    PS. Is the author a Murakami fan btw?

  15. The Satyrs Wife
    Posted January 10, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Caught news of this back/forth commentary on Twitter via AngadC and your own feed and *had* to check it out. Aditya, I must admit I’d only ever read your Daily Fiction. This here is good stuff too. Well done. I think accidents make for excellent storylines and personally I’m very interested in accidents because I *imagine*see* them (usually road accidents) happening everywhere. Maybe this is an externalization of fear (have been in a couple of terrifying accidents and as a child as well); or, perhaps, a controlling/anal response to a reluctance (sometimes) to flow with the chaos of the universe/life. Ergo: an accident.

    Also what I find amazing about the flows of traffic (and much of everyday life) is the way we leave everything to chance. And then to spectate this incredible moment……. Mmm. I like this.

    (And I have nothing to add to the commentary on comments. Makes for entertainment on a slow Monday afternoon)

  16. Posted January 10, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Ah, nice little discussion here. Loved the strip.

    When I saw the strip I thought Gr8 narrative and Gr8 satire, wonder how people would read it. Obviously, multiple readings were expected regardless of what Aditya wanted to convey. But wasn’t expecting people fight over ow rite and wrong the readings were.

    Multiple, conflicting possible readings is what makes this such a wonderful strip.

    Haven’t read u b4 but would think of putting u rite nxt to Chuck Palahniuk. (Sorry, if u don’t like his works Aditya :))

  17. Posted January 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This is what happens when you have too much sleep to catch up on. The conversation’s moved on too far for me to contribute with any specific reply.

    I’ll simply reiterate something ladydeathkitty said above so succinctly and beautifully, and I note this specifically for Rashmi and Pro_B:

    … as an artist, the fun is communicating your work through the medium, and not through tag lines that say “I meant this when I did this and that when I did that.” We do not want to sanitize art. It is not the objective of art to elicit nods of approval or even necessarily a clear comprehension of the subject matter. It is the role of art to elicit strong reactions. period.

  18. Posted January 10, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    IS IT TOO LATE TO ENTER THIS THREAD?
    (In other words, can I toot my horn about how I narrated and recorded this story?)

    • Angad Chowdhry
      Posted January 12, 2011 at 1:03 am | Permalink | Reply

      ENTER

  19. Posted March 29, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    i read this comic long long back, and was fascinated.
    i forgot all about it, until two days ago when a friend and i were talking about serial killers, psychopaths and other morbid stuff. i couldn’t for the hell of me find this link to show to my friend, given i didn’t know anything about who wrote it or what blog it was on.
    then this morning i woke up with the epiphany that it was written by two people, one of whose twitter handle is vetya. it became relatively easier to find this page after that 🙂
    makes for a wonderful morbid read first thing in the morning 😀

One Trackback

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Aditya Bidikar, Anand Ramachandran, Abhishek Choudhury, Sasha Gusain, Nikhil till 01/01/11 and others. Nikhil till 01/01/11 said: A splendid comic by @adityab and @vetya – 'Watcher': http://wp.me/sFcUb-watcher […]

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