Revitalising the Comic Scene in Sri Lanka

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage | Published: 2:00 AM Dec 4 2021
Teen inc Revitalising the Comic Scene in Sri Lanka

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage

 Ceylon Today Features

Thilosha Nipunajith, also known online as IHeArt on the internet, is one of Sri Lanka’s many creative artists who are attempting to revitalise the arts in Sri Lanka. Currently an undergraduate of the Faculty of Geomatics, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, studying Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems, Thilosha picked up his sketchbook at a young age and hasn’t looked back since. Teen Inc reached out to Thilosha to learn more about his experience as an artist in Sri Lanka.

A comic geek 

Thilosha proudly identifies himself as a massive fan of comic books. He also has a lot of love for manga as well, taking time to read comics whenever the opportunity arises amidst his busy schedule. “I was already a comic fan when I was in school,” he shared. “As a kid, I was into superhero comics, but as I grew older, I started wanting something more than inspiration or excitement through a comic. So, I started reading indie comics and manga. Although I still keep up with superhero comics, indie comics and manga are what mainly inspires me of late.” I

nspired beginnings

 Although he had been following a number of local and international creative artists as a fan, Thilosha spent most of his time doing commissioned work. However, “after seeing some extraordinary artworks and comics of our local legendary artists like Sachi Ediriweera aiya and Achinthya Amarakoon akka, I started to consider the notion of becoming a comic artist more seriously,” he shared. “Later, as a project I had been working on, I was given the task to draw some short comics on preventing the spread of COVID-19. That’s the very first time I tried doing comic work. It was really fun and I was hooked afterwards.” 

Climbing the learning curve

 Creating comics isn’t easy. It is a craft that requires a great deal of skill and practice to be able to create an interesting comic. A novice to the craft, Thilosha shared that he didn’t hesitate to reach out to the artists that inspired him to follow the path of being a comic creator and ask for guidance. “As a beginner-level artist, I had no clear idea about panelling, lettering and other things to consider like the target audience and genre and more. Achinthya akka and Sachi aiya helped me a lot when it comes to clearing up my doubts as well. Through that, they inspired me even more.”

 Starting out 

At the moment, Thilosha as IHeArt has published a number of short-comics, with three of them being collaborations. “One is Red Hood | The Worst One. It’s about a DC vigilante named Red Hood. Another one is Ali Bomaye which focuses on the Ali vs Frazier ‘Thriller in the Manilla’ fight,” he recalled, noting that a few others are currently unavailable due to some rework being done. “Those comics are all published in my Behance portfolio. You can search me by name or use the comic’s name to read them.” 

Coming soon

 Thilosha revealed that he is currently working on a number of projects at the moment, including a full-blown Webtoons series. “But with my academics and jobs it’s quite difficult to regularly update the story, which is why I’m planning to publish only after I’ve finished at least five or six chapters. It’s gonna take a while,” he revealed. “I’m also currently working on some comic short stories focusing on PTSD of soldiers in the USA. It’s a commissioned job and will be published if the client agrees.”

 Personal life 

When he’s not drawing comics, Thilosha is working on graduating his bachelor’s degree, conducting research, working on outdoor surveying projects and living the student life. Apart from that, he also is involved in SEDS Sri Lanka a reputed space-based students organisation. Besides that, he regularly makes time to engage in leisure activities such as watching movies, television and anime. He is also a fan of basketball, regularly watching the NBA games. 

Building a creative career 

Although an enthusiast in comics, a creative career is not a main goal for Thiloka, who shared that although he is grateful for “the chance to work with many reputed brands as a creative artist,” which he has enjoyed greatly. He did note that although there had yet to be a mainstream following for Sri Lankan comics in general, “good career opportunities can be found even in Sri Lanka now,” he shared. “A few years ago, there was hardly any clear path comic creators had in Sri Lanka to follow. But now, new opportunities do exist,” he explained. 

“Even in our country, many reputed brands are interested in promoting their products through comics. Also, many reputed writers are interested in publishing their short stories as comics. Especially sci-fi writers. I think being in Sri Lanka is no longer an obstacle for an artist because these days every one of us is connected. You can always find opportunities to find work as an artist, show your colours and have decent pay when you reach out to international communities. Even so, I think finding a secure job in the comic industry in Sri Lanka is still a major challenge.”

 Be the best you can be

“There are a lot of great, talented young comic artists in Sri Lanka. I am grateful to be acknowledged as one of them. Thank you very much for this opportunity,” Thiloka shared before sharing a piece of advice for any of you who might be interested in becoming a creator in the future. “Don’t limit your reading to only certain types or genres of comics or manga,” he shared. “Always try new genres and explore the world of comics and manga the best way you can. It will help you in dealing with your daily struggles. 

This is a medium that motivates you to be the best. So, be proud you are one of the lucky ones who have witnessed the beauty of comic paradise. Try to apply those pieces of inspiration into your real life. And always try your best to support local talent. Give constructive criticism instead of negative feedback. That will be an immense help towards sharpening their talent. Good luck.”  

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage | Published: 2:00 AM Dec 4 2021

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