How have you been?
I think it would be good to have a little intro, before we start off with the actual series.
Why am I writing letters to strangers on the internet? Let’s hop into my time machine and go all the way back to 2018, when Love Handle Comics was started. In case you are wondering, my time-machine is shaped like a Viking boat, and you have to keep rowing it, to travel back in time with me. Reading is a good exercise.
It was a life-changing year. I had grown weary of all the negativity in the mainstream media. And I had been consuming news since the age of ten. I like knowing about things from around the world, and contemporary news gave me an idea of how the world is. Over the years, I saw news turning into “content”. A newspaper mogul once said, “We are not in the business of telling news. We are in the real estate business, and we have the highest rental per square foot”. Negative and polarizing content tend to sell better than positive and balanced ones. So, it’s only natural that the mainstream media became divided and divisive.
At this point, Instagram was a breath of fresh air. I have always enjoyed reading comics, often just for the humour. But here I came across comics that were so creatively positive without being sappy or preachy. They inspired us to publish our own comic series. With push and support from friends, Love Handle Comics was born on the first day of October in 2018.
In our early days, one of the things that we did on a weekly basis was the QnAs, where we would interact with the readers. It was one of the key things about this account that made me happy. I had finally learnt to use social media to directly connect with people from across the world over a shared theme. Love.
Love Handle Comics went viral and grew fairly quickly in 2019. Of course, we were overjoyed. But the more we grew, the less time I had for the interactions that I enjoyed so much. Some of the older readers would get upset that we have become so busy and are not replying to them. Some new readers would see us as social media influencers and, would either revere us or shy away from connecting, presuming indifference on our part.
At the beginning of 2020, a little virus changed the world in ways we hadn’t imagined. We shut ourselves indoors. We were safe. Work kept us fairly busy. Thanks to work from home policies, we were able to spend more time with family. But was it enough to meet our social needs?
Meanwhile, the platform itself began to pivot to short-form videos, to compete with TikTok. In mid-2022, the head of Instagram made it clear that short-form videos are the future of Instagram. I enjoy making short animations. But they are purely for entertainment. We don’t get to meaningfully connect with our audience via those reels. And maybe, that’s something I miss even more after the social confinement during the lockdowns.
At times, I have imagined my work as one of sitting under a tree and regaling weary travelers with entertaining conversations. You don’t know who I am. I don’t know who you are, but if you are interested in talking, you will find me sitting under an imaginary Banyan tree on Mondays, talking about love, interlaced with other related things.
At the end of the day, it’s therapeutic for me to write to you. As a kid, I would scribble long letters to my grandpa which strengthened our bond. Later, I enjoyed writing extensive texts and emails to Lil Boo during the early years of our relationship. And now, I shall write to you, and tell you what thoughts have been swirling in my brain recently. Unlike a large social media account that is there for one-to-many communication, this is a much smaller group, where we can have conversations. I want to hear what you have to say. So, please don't hesitate to share your feelings and opinions.
Well, this was a little welcome and introduction clubbed together. The first letter would be sent out next Monday. Please email any questions to us before that. Each week we will try to incorporate queries from the readers into our writing.
Now, stow the oars away and get off this Viking boat time machine.
See you next week! Have a great time till then.
- Big Boo