Stories have this inexplicable ability to remain in our hearts forever, transcending the test of time and space.
For some, these came in the form of grandparents with their treasure trove of tales and lore in their growing years, for a majority of others, the credit goes to comic books that conjured up new worlds for them to explore and enlivened their childhoods.
It would be wise to say that the comics scene in India is still in its infancy with a slowly burgeoning audience.
Much of the rising interest could be attributed to ComicCons making way into major metros in recent years.
The idea that comics are for kids continues to linger at large, thus preventing a large population of adult story-lovers from stumbling across pure gems of work.
Enter Studio Kokaachi, an indie publishing house-cum-storytelling studio based in Ernakulam, who magically transform ideas into stories made alive with beautiful illustrations and interesting packaging.
For example, have you ever come across a comic the size of a matchbox?
Well, Studio Kokaachi will disappoint you not!
The brainchild of husband-wife duo, Pratheek and Tina Thomas, who live in the heart of Ernakulam with their lovely family of four dogs, the name of the venture finds its reference from the monster, Kokaachi, that inhabited one of the first stories they heard as children.
“Both of us have grown up listening to stories from our relatives. Like the anecdote of monsters hiding under the bed that would eat children if they were not good We had our share of growing-up woes in the form of Kokaachi. Past found its link in the present when the name stood out amidst the plethora of names that we had worked out to name our own venture”, Tina laughs as she shares with The Better India.
Starting out with Manta Ray Comics in 2009, which Pratheek had co-founded with his friend Dileep Cherian and later joined by Tina, they had made quite an impressive mark with their comics Hush and Mixtape.
But life had other plans for the duo, who decided to venture into the world of comics and publishing on their own.
“It was purely the love we shared for stories that made us what we are today. Supported by Prabha Mallya, who is onboard as our art director, we are helping give life to the stories that people approach us with. Most of these have been stories from our friends. Some are inspired from real life instances, while others are crafted” she explains.
The Mixtape comics, which are three volumes old now, are short comics anthologies that are heartrending enough to keep you wanting for more.
As the name suggests, the stories in these comics are a brilliant mix of tales from different spheres of life.
“Though the first edition came out under Manta Ray Comics, the remaining books have been published as our own babies. People have taken quite a liking to these,” Tina says.
However, it is the comic that comes in the size of a matchbox that has sparked quite an interest amidst comic lovers.
With short tales beautifully illustrated on single panels, the concept is quite unheard of!
“The story behind its ideation is quite amusing. It was initially conceived as a contest idea where people could list a word, and we could make tiny comics almost instantly during the stipulated launch of one of our Mixtape volumes in Ernakulam The idea didn’t work out, but my heart lingered on to the concept. Sometime in 2013, the tiny boxes of awesomeness spread wings!” she recalls.
Coming from art and design backgrounds, with Pratheek being a NID alumnus, the duo found illustrators amidst their friend circles, who have wholeheartedly supported the duo.
“The struggle of being one of the few indie publishers in the country is present. But we have made it so far, and anyone sharing the love for stories and comics would always find us here,” she adds.
Keeping the legacy of storytelling and the craze behind comics equally alive, the duo is gearing up with more volumes of Mixtapes and Matchbox Comix in the upcoming months.
You can check out their amazing comics here.
You can reach out to Studio Kokaachi at firstname.lastname@example.org.