Indian artist Krish Raghav sees the world in comics form

Comic Artist Krish Raghav adds color to a sketch that he plans to submit to the upcoming comic festival, Short Run. Having lived and traveled in cities around the world, Raghav narrates his travels and gives journalistic insight into the everyday lives within different cities in his comics. (Photo by Varisha Khan)
Comic Artist Krish Raghav adds color to a sketch that he plans to submit to the upcoming comic festival, Short Run. (Photo by Varisha Khan)

Krish Raghav is a public policy expert, journalist, music festival organizer and a native of New Delhi who is based in Beijing. These all come together when he publishes his comic books.

Raghav, 28, documents his experiences internationally in what he calls journalistic “slice of life” comics. His work depicts locations such as Beijing, Moscow and Mexico City and are drawn in non-fiction, first-person narratives. The personal stories shift into historical, social and political contexts before ending with a punchline.

Raghav says his comics are unique because they are socially and politically conscious, especially coming from the perspective of a person of color.

“Travel writing tends to be dominated by white people with a first world passport. As a POC, I understand international connections to history and culture, and I’m tolerant of chaos,” said Raghav over email.

One scene in his latest comic book “Estilo Hindu” takes place in a Mexico City café that is bustling with activity but self-regulated, and “just works somehow.” Having grown up in New Delhi with similar chaotic environments, he said he felt right at home in the café, and didn’t bother to try to comprehend the café’s structure and flow.

Raghav was able to publish “Estilo Hindu” — which means “Indian-style” in Spanish — after being the first recipient of the $250 Dash grant from Short Run, a free comics and arts festival that takes place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday Oct. 31 in Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion. The festival will feature comics, art, zines and other media from self-publishers and small presses.

Raghav is one of the exhibitors at the festival and will also be a special guest at the pre-festival reception at Fantagraphics Gallery and Bookstore.

Raghav studied public policy in Singapore and also has worked as a full-time journalist, writing for Mint, a business publication in India. His writings and drawings can also be found in BBC News, National Geographic Traveller India and GQ India.

Raghav started doodling comics during office meetings and was encouraged by his friends to publish his comics beyond his social media posts.

Three years ago, he moved from Singapore to Beijing, transitioning from policy research to take a job at Split Works, a music company, and to work on his comics. By day, Raghav organizes music festivals and shows for local and international musicians in Beijing and participates in the city’s thriving indie arts scene.

To him, comics stand apart from other media because he can emphasize body language, and the many layers of the city life he draws.

Pens, markers, watercolor paint, paper and a computer are all Raghav needs to put together his hand-drawn comics. In one sitting, he can complete a strip in 9 hours, including free-drawing and looking at images online for inspiration.

Once all the pages are drawn and colored, the comic book is put through screen printing, which is like a printing press that layers colors physically to create a cover page.

He said over email that he looks forward to visiting Seattle as he participates in Short Run’s festival.

“As someone outside looking in, I can tell Seattle has such a rich history of comic books across a variety of styles, genre and subject matter,” he said.

Original pages from "Estilo Hindu" laid out. Short Run will be Raghav's first comic festival, but his comic and journalistic work has also been published in BBC News, National Geographic Traveller and GQ India. (Photo by Varisha Khan)
Original pages from “Estilo Hindu” laid out. (Photo by Varisha Khan)

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